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!!

What I Read and Watched May 2017

It’s book time! Four 5 Star books in a single month. That’s got to be a record for me. Page turners, tears, deep emotional connections. They have them all. I can’t wait to give you all of my recommendations!

BOOKS

the beauty of darkness

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Rating: 3.5 Stars

If you remember last month, I finished the second book in The Remnant Chronicles series and highly recommended it. I thought the grand finale in the series was a bit disappointing. Still worth reading the trilogy, but this book seemed bogged down with all the political stuff and had very little interesting interaction between the main characters. A lot of emotion was pushed aside to fight for their territories. Which some people love reading about, but I much prefer the inter-character development to be first and foremost in every story.

come back to me

Come Back to Me by Mila Gray
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I had a hard time reading this book because I felt so certain I’ve read it before. I realized later that it had a very similar storyline to Karen Kingsbury’s Ever After/Even Now books, which used to be some of my favorites. Anyway, that’s probably not a valid reason to rate a book 2.5 stars – one of the lowest ratings I ever give a book that I actually finish. But it just felt so familiar in a frustrating way. Forbidden romance, tragedy in war, a lot of messed up emotional responses. It wasn’t really for me.

51o5CUlC70L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Rating: 4 Stars

This is a book about a series of characters that find their way into circus life during WWII. While circus set stories are something I usually tend to avoid, it was interesting to read about how they managed to continue performing in the midst of so much tragedy. The main characters are a former Nazi’s wife who was divorced and sent away because she was Jewish, a young woman who was disowned by her parents when she had her soldier’s born baby taken away right after birth, and another baby that was taken off a train car filled with mostly dead babies on their way to work camps. The only thing that really bothered me about this book was its title. Who was the orphan? Probably only the baby – and the story really wasn’t about him. If I realized this book was about the circus I probably never would have picked it up. But it was definitely another eye opening account of lives set in WWII Europe that I never would have considered until reading this book.

ready player one

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I’ve heard this book recommended on numerous podcasts in the last few months. It’s also a book that Greg read and really liked. We don’t often have the same taste in books, but since it kept coming up, I decided to give it a chance. I do have to say it took me about a full week to read this. It felt SO LONG. The first 20% of the book (thanks, Kindle for the number) was setting up the story. If you can get through that, the rest of the book is much more exciting. It’s about our future world that has become so destitute that just about everybody lives most of their lives in a virtual reality universe. The book was very heavily focused on 80’s nostalgia and video games, which I had no interest in. But the premise was unique and kept my interest to the end.

suffer love

Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
Rating: 5 Stars

This is a story about the after effects of two families when their parents have an affair. The daughter of the man and the son of the woman meet under random circumstances and instantly have a connection. The boy soon realizes who the girl is, but she is left clueless for most of the book. There is a whole lot of emotion packed into this book and how it feels to be betrayed by those you love the most. People pick up the pieces in different ways and choose to be bitter or choose to forgive. This is definitely one of my favored YA books that I had a hard time putting down. It’s a little on the serious side, but it was good.

51BqBLJMfDL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I never, ever would have picked up this book on my own. But I received it in a book exchange I did a few months ago and felt like I should give it a chance. It’s basically a memoir of a woman who suffered for twenty years from a mysterious illness that left her completely bedridden and unable to do almost anything on her own. A friend brought her a snail that she found out in the woods and the author learned to come to terms with her own existence and contribution to the world by spending her days watching the snail beside her bed. While the book was beautifully written and mildly intriguing, it is still just basically about the life of a snail. I don’t feel any richer for have read it, though I do know a whole lot more about snails!

51PF6PHQmRL._SX364_BO1,204,203,200_

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Rating: 3 Stars

I bought this book for Caden soon after we got Annie. It’s about a boy and the connection he has to his fox, and I thought Caden might appreciate the similarities between him and his new dog. But he read two pages and said he didn’t like it. So I read it myself! Meant for ages 8-12, it was still a full length book, but had some beautiful pictures thrown in the middle. Each chapter goes back and forth between the boy’s and the fox’s point of view. It was an interesting read. Slightly boring at times. But it had a very bittersweet and appropriate ending. If you or your child is into more introspective books, this might be a good one.

caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Rating: 5 Stars

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. But I kept seeing it every time I went into bookstores – in the YA section, of course. I kind of assumed it was about a carnival, which is much like a circus, and I already said I’m not interested in those. But it wasn’t. This was kind of a dystopian/fantasy type story. Two poorly mistreated sisters sneak away from their father with a handsome sailor and join in the magical game called Caraval. I admit the background information was a bit confusing. It was constantly repeated that Caraval was magical, but also it was just a performance. But if you don’t focus on all of that, the actual story and character interactions were truly wonderful. I love the connection that was made between Scarlett and Julian, the sailor. The only disappointment was getting to the end and realizing that there will be a second book coming. I try not to read books with sequels until they’re both out. I hate waiting!

41hBFe3dbCL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock
Rating: 5 Stars

I hate waiting, but I did for this one! Though I was extremely upset to get to the end and find out that the story still isn’t over! Anyway, this is the sequel to a book called If I Run. Both books were fabulous. It’s the story of a woman who is wrongly accused of murdering her best friend. She is on the run while trying to find ways to prove her innocence and show that the dirty cops working on her case were also the ones to stage her father’s suicide many years before. The main character, Casey, distantly teems up with the private investigator who was hired to find her, but believes in her innocence. What I love most about these two books is that despite being one of America’s most wanted, Casey is constantly finding ways to reach out and help other people. In the first book she rescues a girl who was kidnapped. In the second book she stops a man from committing suicide and helps a young girl who is forcefully being abused by her parents’ drug dealer. There’s a lot going on, but I love Casey’s clear cut purpose in always doing what is right and fighting injustice. I can’t wait for the third (and hopefully final) chapter in this series.

windfall

Windfall  by Jennifer E. Smith
Rating: 5 Stars

The situational premise of this book is that a girl gives her best friend a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday and he wins. Previously very down on his luck with a history of family financial woes, Teddy’s life drastically changes with a sudden 55 million dollars in his possession. Emotionally, this book is about Alice, a girl who lost both of her parents at a young age and despite growing up with a loving aunt, uncle, and cousin, continues to feel lost and alone on many levels. Despite not being an orphan or having any experience with coming into piles of money, this book really resonated with me. There were a lot of tears watching Alice learn to deal with change and truly learn to accept the love around her and let people deeper into her life. While Teddy definitely isn’t my favorite male lead in a book, I enjoyed watching the two of them grow and change throughout the story. I highly recommend this one!

MOVIES

MV5BMTAwMjU5OTgxNjZeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDUxNDYxODEx._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Greg LOVES the first movie, so of course we had to see the second one right when it came out. We went on a Friday morning, which was fun. I really liked this movie – more than the first. It was so funny! Chris Pratt is just the best.

MV5BOTEzNDU0OTgxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjA0ODM2OTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

Deepwater Horizon

Just another movie I’ve kind of wanted to see and finally got around to watching. It kind of bothered me how they just immediately jumped into the tragedy without much happening ahead of time. I guess it was a bit entertaining, but not that great.

TV – Alone

MV5BMTk1MjE3ODY3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDYyMjI5MDI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

I’ve been avoiding watching this Good Wife spin off because I figured it was just the same show, except with Diane instead of Alicia. And I always hated Diane. But really, this show was so good! Definitely worth the watch, even if you’ve never seen The Good Wife.

MV5BOTM0NDg3NTQ3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIyNjMxMjE@._V1_UY268_CR9,0,182,268_AL_

I finally caught up with the latest season. Young & Hungry is so ridiculous, you guys. But it never fails to make me laugh out loud either. The main character Gabby is so obnoxious, there are way too many fat jokes, and the on again off again romance between Gabby and Josh feels like it will continue on FOREVER. But it’s still funny. And cute. Good for when you need something lighthearted.

last man on earth

I think I heard this is the last season of Last Man. It’s okay. I continue watching, but it definitely lost a lot of its earlier charm.

izombie

Still love it! Still recommend it. The newest season is especially good. I love Wednesdays when I can watch the newest episode from the night before.

quantico

I’m not sure if this one has been renewed, but I’m okay if it wasn’t. It finally ended with everybody being happy. I’d like to imagine that’s it, no more insane drama.

modern family

It’s getting old, guys. But…it’s there. I need these sitcoms in the middle of the more serious shows I watch.

jane

While I’m still bitter about Michael’s death, I am enjoying this season a lot more than I expected.

TV – Together

MV5BMTk3ODYxNjQ3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzA1MDQ5MTI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

Master of None is SO good. I really hated Aziz Ansari for such a long time because of his character Tom on Parks & Rec. But on this show his character is so much deeper, and yet still deeply hilarious. Each episode is like a random slice of Dev’s life. Which I feel makes it really unique, but also slightly frustrating when they act like we should just know who everybody is, when there’s no introduction of them. But overall – I love this show. A lot.

superstore

Watched the finale at the beginning of the month. I’m not going to stop recommending this one. I LOVE IT.

flash

This season really seemed to drag, but in one of the final episodes when Barry’s memory was taken away and he was suddenly happy and carefree – it was so funny. I hope the show somehow gets back to its humorous side. That’s the reason I’ve always liked this superhero show best.

arrow

While Arrow is not my favorite, I did really like this season’s nemesis.

riverdale

I think I maybe liked this show less with every episode. But still thought it was worth watching. I’m interested to see where they go with it next season.

brooklyn nine nine

Still funny. Still makes me laugh so much. Such a good show!

And that’s it! It was a busy month. What have you read or watched?!

What I Read and Watched April 2017

It’s the end of another month! My favorite post to write! Here’s everything I read and watched this month. I have a lot of good recommendations for you!

BOOKS

meant to be

Meant to Be by Terri Osburn
Rating: 4 Stars

I was in the mood for a lighter series and this one was very nice. I liked this first book the most. Definitely a romance novel, but it had a great story, characters, and I loved the setting. I wish I could live on Anchor Island too! Though I don’t usually love books where the obstacle between two characters is another relationship, this book played out pretty well.

up to the challenge

Up to the Challenge by Terri Osburn
Rating: 3 Stars

Not as good as the first book, I still enjoy a good series with revolving characters you can delve deeper into. I don’t have a ton to say about this, other than it’s a nice light read if that’s what you need.

home to stay

Home to Stay by Terri Osburn
Rating: 3 Stars

About the same level of enjoyment as the second book. They moved beyond the main four characters a little bit, but everyone is still around. I liked the book, but needed to move on afterward. There’s a fourth book, but it’ll be a long time before I pick that one up.

the best possible answer

The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
Rating: 3 Stars

The story of a girl whose life was ruined by one bad photo mistake and how she deals with it while her family falls apart. I thought this book was pretty dull. I did enjoy the character and her relationships she made over the summer, but it really wasn’t a very exciting read.

thirteen reasons why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Rating: 5 Stars

I’ve had this book in my to be read list for quite awhile, but decided it was time to read it so I could watch the netflix show based off of the book. It was truly a captivating read. Fascinating, sad, full of regret. I think I read the book in a single day. I highly recommend it.

sing me to sleep

Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison
Rating: 4 Stars

This was a wonderfully written book. The second half of the story really caught me off guard. It was not where I expected things to go. But I appreciated how messy and not quite perfect everything turned out to be. The book is the story about a “beast” of a girl who transforms herself for a high class choir competition. You’ll love the main character, and also want to scream at her. But it was a quick and good read.

the heart of betrayal

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Before you read this, be sure you read The Kiss of Deception first. But read them because they’re good! I read the first book a couple of years ago, probably when it first came out. So I had to read a few summaries before I was ready to move on to the next book. I kind of wish I had just re-read it because it was one of my rare five star rated books. In case you haven’t noticed, I read A LOT of young adult and contemporary type books. But every once in awhile I just love getting lost in a fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian type series. And this is a great one! I’m currently reading the final book, so I’ll let you know how that is next month! 🙂

MOVIES

Not a very good month for movies! We usually watch movies on weekends, but apparently we had other things to watch this month!

passengers

There was nothing earth shatteringly great about Passengers, but I did enjoy it. How can you not enjoy Chris Pratt in anything??

TV – Together

santa clarita diet

I think we binged this one in a week. I loved it! I mean, the premise was slightly ridiculous, but I really thought it was so funny. Be sure you’re actually watching-watching because the facial expressions and little slights here and there are what make the comedy so fantastic.

love

The second season of Love is a lot better than the first. You still want to murder the characters off and on, but for the most part it’s worth sticking with.

superstore

I’m just going to keep saying this: I LOVE Superstore. It’s one of my favorite tv shows of all time. I’m so glad we stumbled on it a few months ago. SO, so funny. Watch it. Seriously.

arrow

Eh, Arrow. Still sticking with it, still not overly thrilled with it. Everything is so dark and evil. I find myself much more excited about the lighthearted shows we have to watch every week.

flash

The Flash, better than Arrow, but still kind of dragging this season.

homeland

Finished up the current season of Homeland. I am NOT happy with how it ended. My reason for watching is no longer alive. I’m not sure I’ll be watching it again next year.

the americans

Greg still really loves this one, but more often than not I find myself falling asleep during it. And I pretty much never fall asleep during tv time. It’s a really well done show, I’ll give it that. But it just doesn’t grab me the way it used to.

brooklyn nine nine

Always good for a laugh! Captain Holt continues to be one of my favorite characters ever.

riverdale

Okay, Riverdale is pretty ridiculous. I was pretty excited about it the first few episodes, and now I’m just kind of annoyed with the characters and the storyline. It’s okay. I’d still pick it over Arrow any night.

TV- Alone

I did a lot of sewing the last few weeks, which means I’ve watched a lot of tv! Don’t judge! 🙂

13 reasons why

The tv portrayal of this book was fantastic. I loved how deeply they delved into each of the characters and focused so strongly on the aftermath of Hannah’s suicide. So much of the book was just listening to Hannah’s tapes and Clay’s internal reactions to everything. The show is about so much more. I loved how it was done, but was also deeply saddened by it. So much regret for what could have been and what was lost. I’ve been reading some of the controversial articles about why people want this show taken off of netflix. And I kind of agree – it really does romanticize the notion of suicide. If my kids were old enough to watch it, I wouldn’t want them to. The way each character spirals after listening to the tapes, it kind of seems like everyone is heading to their own suicide. But overall…I really appreciated this show.

big little lies

Okay, first of all – READ THE BOOK. It’s such a great book! One of the most memorable books I’ve ever read. And the mini-series based off the book? Amazing! I just watched all seven episodes in the last day and a half. It was SO well done. Reese Witherspoon was incredible. Everyone was. I guess it’s been awhile since I read the book, but I think very little was changed. I really love this new era of tv and mini-series being made from books. Especially when you can read first. I love seeing the characters come to life on screen. Watch this show! Read this book!

quantico

I don’t even know why I like this show, it’s pretty dumb. Ha! But I still like it and find myself watching it before anything else more often than not.

modern family

Another standby that I won’t stop watching, but don’t necessarily love. It’s good for a few laughs here and there.

last man on earth

Oh man, such annoying characters! I definitely have a love hate relationship with this show. Phil/Tandy is SO obnoxious. But the show is occasionally funny. Interesting premise, at least!

jane

I was pretty angry about a major character’s death. But I’ve kept going and the show is still entertaining. I’m sad they killed him off, but I guess they need more drama. The only thing I dislike about this show is how many things are typed on screen and how many subtitles you have to read when Spanish is being spoken. Since I almost solely watch tv while sewing, it’s super annoying to always stop what I’m doing to read what’s on the screen.

izombie

iZombie is back, hooray! I love this show. So good! I’m excited to have this one to watch every week again.

grimm

Grimm is over. This kind of fit the bill for my sci-fi/fantasy television watching. It was sometimes bizarre, but I loved the core cast of characters and their friendship. I’m sad it’s over. So many of my favorite shows have ended this season.

And that’s about it! What have you been reading and watching? I’d always love more recommendations!

What I Read and Watched March 2017

It’s the end of the month! Time for another post on what I read and watched this month. I love this little series!

BOOKS

by your side

By Your Side by Kasie West
Rating: 4 stars

I was so excited to read a new book by one of my all time favorite authors. Unfortunately, this one didn’t hold up to the level of love I hold for her other books. It’s about a girl who accidentally gets trapped in the library for a long weekend and a boy who chose to hide out there on his own. I appreciate how they got to know each other over the days they were stuck, but I didn’t feel super connected to the characters. I feel like once they were out of the library there was almost no interaction between the two which is always frustrating. But nonetheless, I still give it 4 stars!

my not so perfect life

My (not so) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Rating: 4.5 stars

I really enjoyed this book! It’s about a young woman who finds herself at her ideal job, working in marketing at a fancy agency in London. She has the “perfect” boss and changes so much about herself to try and fit the image she wants to portray. But throughout the book she learns a lot of lessons about what’s really most important in life and staying true to herself, her roots, her family. The book is full of humor, friendship, and a bit of romance. I loved everything about it!

sugar

Sugar by Kimberly Stuart
Rating: 3 Stars

The premise of this book sounded awesome, but it definitely wasn’t one of my favorites. A high level pastry chef moves across the country to work in an ex-boyfriend’s fancy new restaurant, and ends up being the star of a reality show she wants nothing to do with. I found the book a little stressful thinking about how every minute of her life was devoted to the job and how easily she looked over every other person around her. The reality show was much more of a sub-plot, almost a very annoying addition to the story. The book was just okay.

the secret of a heart note

The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Rating: 4 Stars

This was a sweet and unique book about the only two aromatuers left in the world. A teenage girl is trying to find her way in her first public school, while constantly dealing with the scents of people and emotions that are always swirling around her. The scent descriptions did get a bit old after awhile, but the story line was refreshing and fun. I loved the relationships Mimosa developed throughout the book.

the crown

The Crown by Kiera Cass
Rating: 3 Stars

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass is one of my favorite young adult book series. I absolutely loved the first few books, but I feel like they’ve gotten progressively worse. I found this final book to be rather dull and frustrating. I didn’t like the main character that much and was disappointed with how little she interacted with the men who were in the castle trying to win her hand in marriage. This book was focused so much more on the political nature of their dystopian world. Something I was not interested in reading about.

a thousand letters

A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart
Rating: 4 Stars

I have very mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I really wanted to scream at the characters – a lot. They supposedly had such a deep and driven romance and then let something completely childish ruin the next seven years of their lives. I enjoyed reading about the way they found each other again, but the process was frustrating! Elliot’s family situation was pretty horrific, nearing unbelievable. But I loved how she stayed strong and didn’t let things get to her. She was a strong, yet fairly quiet character that I admired.

the secret wife

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul
Rating: 5 Stars

I think from the unfitting picture on the cover of this book and intriguing title, I expected this book to be about some sort of affair and hidden away mistress of some sort. It was NOTHING like that. It’s the story of Tatiana Romanov and her secret relationship with Dmitri, a soldier in Russia during WWI. The story follows Dmitri’s life, interspersed with chapters about his great-granddaughter Kitty who is trying to piece together his past. The story is deep and involved, and I loved everything about it. It’s a true testament to love that can last and stand the test of time.

to catch a killer

To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough
Rating: 4 Stars

This was an interesting read about a couple of teenagers trying to catch a murderer using their own methods of crime solving. I liked the way they worked together and found justice in the end. The book kept my attention, though it wasn’t incredibly memorable.

MOVIES

It’s been a big month for movies! Usually I’m lucky to watch one or two movies and they’re usually not that great. This month was a good one!

lego batman

The Lego Batman Movie

We saw this in the theater – the first ever movie we went to as a family. I liked it! It was pretty funny and I really liked how Robin fit into Batman’s life, as his adopted son. I definitely recommend this to anyone who likes legos or Batman!

masterminds

Masterminds

Another fairly ridiculous comedy, but it wasn’t terrible. I enjoyed a couple of laughs. It did really make me miss the Owen Wilson of Wedding Crashers, though. Where did he go??

snowden

Snowden

Okay, I thought this was pretty dull. But I’m always up for a Joseph Gordon Levitt movie. He did a great job, as always. It was interesting to watch, knowing it was a true story. But also seemed to drag on forever.

beauty and the beast

Beauty and the Beast

I’m so glad I was able to see this opening weekend! Beauty and the Beast was always one of my favorite Disney movies, so I was really excited to see the remake. This is the only one of the new live action remakes I’ve seen. And it was great! I did feel like they made Belle rather pretentious in the beginning – something I didn’t feel in the animated version. But overall, it was an awesome remake. The singing and dancing and everything were fantastic!

trolls

Trolls

So, in general, I don’t like animated movies. I never really have. But we’ve been trying to find more things we can all watch together for movie nights on weekends. I’ve been avoiding Trolls since I assumed it would be pretty girly. But we finally watched it and we LOVED it. Seriously, one of my favorite animated movies ever. Everything about it was so great!! Shepard, who just plain hates movies, has watched it like four more times since then. On one of the days he was home sick he just watched it on a loop. The music is so great we’ve been listening to it every day. Great movie!!

TV – Together

superstore

Superstore

I have to start adding pictures for the tv shows I’m enjoying the most. So once again – Superstore!!! I completely love this show. It’s so funny!! I feel like it’s been a long time since a really great comedy has been on the air. Greg and I binged the second season and are all caught up now. I hate waiting a week in between like normal people. Such a great show!!!

Homeland – Still a pretty serious watch. I usually don’t even understand half of what’s going on because I’m much more interested in the character development than the nitty gritty of the plot. I’m still highly intrigued by Quinn’s character this season.

The Flash – Getting kind of sick of the must save Iris plotline. They had a musical episode last week with half of the Supergirl cast. It was kind of strange, but not bad.

Arrow – Eh, as usual. This show is so dark and serious these days.

Love – The second season of Love was released on netflix, so we just started watching that. I’m liking the second season so much more than the first. The characters are funny, but also incredibly annoying. It’s amusing, though.

TV- Alone

the royals

The Royals

Okay, this has totally become my guilty pleasure. I binged all three seasons in a week and a half. I LOVED this show. So juicy and delicious! Jasper…yeah. Liam is pretty great too. Even Eleanor is an awesome character. The first and third season were amazing, second was a little slower and more focused on the older generation. But overall, I highly recommend this show if you just want something fun to watch!

New Girl  – Sticking with it. I still love all the guys on the show and am super annoyed by Jess. It looks like they’re gearing up for a great finale, though. About time!

Vampire Diaries – It’s done and over. I think I binged this show last spring or summer. It definitely has its ups and downs. A lot of people dying that are never dead for long. But I enjoyed it and I’m sad it’s over. I’m glad they were able to pull all the characters together for the last episode.

The  Mindy Project – Just kind of sticking with this one too. It used to be one of my favorites, but I’m just not that into it anymore.

Bones – Another show that ended forever. I can’t remember if I watched this when it first started however many years ago, but I’ve definitely been watching a very long time. It was a solid show with many likable characters and interesting plotlines. I’m sad to see it go.

Modern Family – Also, just okay. I pretty much only watch tv when I’m sewing, so most of my shows are just kind of fillers to entertain me while I’m doing mindless work.

Grimm – There’s just one episode left and then this is done forever too. 🙁 I really liked Grimm! The friendship between the characters was so strong. I enjoyed watching how they worked together every week. What am I going to watch now that so many of my shows are over??

And that’s it! What have you been reading and watching this month?!

What I Read and Watched February 2017

It’s been a good month for reading! I have lots of great books and movies and tv to share with you today.

BOOKS

sound of gravel

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Rating: 5 stars

This book, you guys. Wow. It’s a memoir, but written as a novel from the perspective of five year old Ruthie, the 39th of her father’s 42 children, living in a Mormon polygamist colony in Mexico. The story follows Ruth, her mom, her immediate siblings, and her step-dad through about 12 years of her life. And it is fascinating. The book is focused on their family life and the struggles they have growing up incredibly poor with resources spread way too thin among the men’s many families. Nothing I say will do this book justice, so just read it and trust me. I’ll never forget this story. And all the more because it’s true. This is a very powerful read.

we are still tornadoes

We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
Rating: 4.5 stars

This book is told entirely through letters sent between male and female best friends in the girl’s first year away at college. I’m always a sucker for books that have letters in them and this was no exception. I loved how incredibly well they could fill in almost all the gaps of seeing their real lives just by the letters they wrote each other. But near the end, I really, really wanted them to ditch the letters and have a few chapters in person. I thought the final letters to each other were very rushed and lacking after all the words that flowed so freely in the rest of the book. I wasn’t entirely satisfied after finding so much delight in the rest of the book. But still good!

children of eden

Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa
Rating: 4 stars

So I’m also a sucker for dystopian fiction, and this was a good one! It’s about a future society that only allows families to have one child. It’s the story of a hidden “second child” who finds a chance to escape and find a clan of other second children. There were a few literary things that irritated me in this book – constantly referring back to things that happened only a day or two ago and acting like it’s been going on for months, and many times when actual dialog was skipped to just summarize what was said between people. But besides that, it was a good book. It didn’t have an entirely complete ending, so I’m hoping a sequel will be coming out soon!

salt to the sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys
Rating: 5 stars

Another amazing look at an aspect of WWII that I was completely unaware of. Salt to the Sea follows the journey of a group of teenagers, an old man, and a boy that make their way by foot across Germany in winter to the Baltic Sea, hoping to catch a ship to freedom. The journey is harrowing and incredibly sad. It was fascinating, but also extremely heavy. It’s another of Sepetys’ books that will stay with me for a very long time.

food anatomy

Food Anatomy by Julia Rothman
Rating: 5 Stars

This is just a fun book to keep on your coffee table and flip through when you’re bored. It’s the third in a collection of her books made up of interesting facts and hand drawn illustrations. This is my favorite because it pertains the most to things I’m interested in. It’s also where I found that awesome butterscotch recipe!

everything everything

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Rating: 4 stars

I passed this book up many times last year when I kept seeing it all over the internet. It just didn’t sound that great to me. But then I happened to see a trailer for the movie they’re making of it and I wanted to read the book immediately. It was worth it! A very interesting story about a girl who has to spend her entire life inside her germ free household. It’s about her relationship with her mom, her nurse, and eventually the boy who moves in across the street. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending of this book and I’m really looking forward to the movie!

the wonder

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Rating: 3 stars

Donoghue’s Room is one of my favorite books of all time, so of course I was thrilled to read another written by her. Well, this was a far cry from the other’s captivating story. I think I stopped reading this twice because I was so bored. SO bored. Then I’d look it up online again and see that it’s called a “psychological thriller.” Yeah, I didn’t see that. But about halfway through things really picked up. Again, I was very surprised by the ending. But in the best of ways. I wouldn’t recommend the book, but I’m glad I stuck with it.

the boy most likely to

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rating: 4 stars

I admit that I spent most of this sequel trying to remember if I had actually read the first book. I just looked it up and I read it in 2014, which is why the vast array of characters were so hazy in my memory. So read My Life Next Door before you read this one! I won’t spoil it, but this story line strayed so far from what I expected it to be about. I found it to be quite endearing. But that being said, I also had a hard time connecting with the female character. It was an okay YA read, but not one of my favorites.

MOVIES

the edge of seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen

I really wanted to see this in the theater, but didn’t get a chance, so I was desperate to see it asap when it came out. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It was good, but it was so, so full of teenage angst. Which was the point, right? But I don’t think I could ever sit through it a second time. But I still enjoyed it the one time.

chronicles of narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia

One of our family movie night movies.

arrival

Arrival

I know I’m probably in the minority here, but I did not like this movie. Two hours of Amy Adams’ heavy breathing and facial closeups. I was bored and thought the whole story line was pretty bizarre. Not my kind of movie.

don't think twice

Don’t Think Twice

I probably shouldn’t add this because we only watched about 20 minutes of it. I wanted to see it because of Chris Gethard, from the podcast Beautiful Anonymous that I used to listen to addictively. But this movie – oh so uncomfortable. I think I just hate improv. Anytime people are trying too hard to be funny is just so cringe-worthy. I can’t stand to watch it. So we gave up! No time for bad movies.

the jonses

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Probably also unpopular opinion here, but I liked this movie! It was ridiculous, but also funny. A few one liners that had me laughing pretty hard. It was a nice light movie after a tough week.

TV – Together

SUPERSTORE – Have you seen this show?? I don’t know how I never knew it existed. We binged the first season in a couple of days. So funny! It’s very similar to The Office, but in a superstore environment. I loved it, though.

Homeland – Always a good show, but always so serious and heavy. I’m really liking this season, despite my favorite character Peter Quinn’s setbacks. The most current episode was amazing.

Riverdale – I really like this show! Maybe just because Archie (K.J. Apa) is like the most adorable high school kid ever. I watch for him lol.

The Flash – Good, as always.

Arrow – Eh, okay. Kind of over it.

TV – Alone

Jane the Virgin – Um…WHAT THE HECK??? I am NOT happy with where this one went. I was going to give up, but I’m still intrigued. It’s not one of my favorites, but I like it enough to keep going.

Quantico – I’m still unsure of what’s happening here half the time, but I like the characters so I keep watching.

This is Us – I’m definitely not as hyped up about this show as most of the world. I like it well enough, but it doesn’t come anywhere near Parenthood status!

Shameless – I caught up! Sad, sad. This really was a great show that I can’t believe I never even heard of until a few months ago. I’ve watched seven seasons since then and haven’t regretted it.

The Mindy Project – Always love this one! Mindy is annoying as ever, but I love the rest of the cast.

I think that’s about it for my month of book and tv entertainment! What have you been reading or watching??

What I Read and Watched January 2017

Hello! I wanted to start a series this year summarizing what I read and watch each month. I’ve noticed some other blogs that do this and I really enjoy it. I’m always up for more recommendations of books, tv, and movies, so maybe you are too!

BOOKS

the edge of never

The Edge of Never by J. A. Redmerksi
Rating: 4 stars

An interesting YA book that mostly takes place on a Greyhound bus. It’s about character development between the two main characters as they slowly get to know each other and inevitably fall in love.

the edge of always

The Edge of Always by J. A. Redmerski
Rating: 3.5 stars

The sequel is more about trials and challenges the couple faces after their whirlwind romance. It’s about loss and heartache, but ultimately sticking together and becoming stronger. Both books in this series were solid YA novels, though neither were un-put-downable.

a man called ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Rating: 3.5 stars

There was so much hype about this book. Everywhere. So many people absolutely adored it. I did not. I actually found the first 3/4 of this book to be very predictable and boring. I’d rate that portion of the book 2 stars, which is about the lowest I’ve ever rated anything. But I powered through and it got really touching and wonderful at the end. I’m not sure I actually recommend reading it, but if you’ve started, it’s worth finishing.

did i mention i love you

Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame
Rating: 3 stars

A story about a girl who spends a summer with her dad and his new wife and 3 sons. Predictably, she falls for her stepbrother. Normally I’d like this story line, but I HATED the main male character. He was pretty much the worst teenage boy you can imagine. So it was a struggle to be invested in their relationship. And yet I kept reading.

did i mention i need you

Did I Mention I Need You? by Estelle Maskame
Rating: 3 stars

This follows the main characters a year later in New York for the summer. They’re a little more mature and likable, but there was just a lot of excess detail and drama that annoyed me.

did i mention i miss you

Did I Mention I Miss You? by Estelle Maskame
Rating: 3.5 stars

Another year later, the story of Eden and Tyler concludes. I liked the character development better in this one, though from the beginning of the series to the end, it’s truly hard to believe it’s the same boy turned man. This series really could have been condensed to a single book. Possibly two. Three was way more than you need.

the night bird

The Nightbird by Brian Freeman
Rating: 4 stars

This was my Amazon Prime pick of the month. I really enjoy reading the occasional psychological thriller, even though it’s not a genre I read regularly. This story was pretty fairly fast paced. The character development did not delve very deeply, but the story line was intriguing. Worth a read if you like psychological mysteries.

the sun is also a star

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Rating: 3.5 stars

Another book that was getting a lot of attention in my online circles. I’ve been trying to throw in a lot more popular and well talked about books in between my favored YA novels. This was the story of a teenage undocumented Jamaican girl on her last day in New York City, and a first generation Korean American teenage boy that met her that day. They have a worthwhile adventure together and ultimately fall in love, after spending the intense day together. I didn’t appreciate having that obvious deadline looming over the whole book. Why read something when you know they can’t possibly have a happy ending? But I’m glad I read it overall.

too late

Too Late by Colleen Hoover
Rating: 4.5 stars

Colleen Hoover is one of my all time favorite authors. Her books are intensely romantic and fast paced and addicting. This one didn’t disappoint, but it was also very dark and violent. The story centered much more around an abusive relationship than the romance between that woman and the undercover cop who was there to take down her boyfriend. It was certainly a unique story and I couldn’t put it down. But it also made me uncomfortable and sad to see a woman used in such a way, so I couldn’t quite give it her usual 5 star rating. If you like romance novels with legitimate and interesting story lines, though, check out some of her other books! Slammed is one of my all time favorites. November 9 is also really good.

MOVIES

lalaland

La La Land

When I first saw a preview for this movie I wasn’t interested at all. But after it won so many Golden Globe awards and people were talking about it all over the place, I decided to check it out. I thought it was a little bit slow going at times, but definitely a very uniquely put together movie. The ending really threw me for a loop and I wasn’t in a very good head space at the time to appreciate it. But it truly was a wonderful movie.

sing street

Sing Street

We just watched this the other night and I loved it! I’ll watch pretty much anything that takes place in Ireland or has Irish actors. I’ll also watch just about anything with singing in it. 🙂 It was a really sweet movie about a bunch of Irish teens that started a band to try and better their lives. I found it highly enjoyable.

storks

Storks

I’m not usually a huge fan of animated movies. But we were looking for something we could all watch together and this was new at redbox and looked cute. I really liked it!!

honey i shrunk

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Caden and I needed something to watch together on the day he stayed home sick. All he wanted to watch were Pokemon things, which I have ZERO interest in. So I found this on netflix. He was not impressed. But he did start “playing invention” that day, so it did help his imagination a little! 🙂

antman

Ant-Man

Another family movie night. My kids used to hate movies, but suddenly this winter it’s all they want to do, if video games aren’t an option. Greg’s been watching a lot of Marvel movies with them, and I tuned in for this one. I’ve seen it before, I like it. But it does have a whole lot of swear words in it, very worthy of it’s PG-13 rating. Oops.

TV

I watch a lot of tv because I can do it while I’m working on an abundance of hand sewing. With doll making there’s a lot of that. Greg and I usually watch one tv episode a night as well.

TV – By Myself:

  • Shameless – I started this maybe in November. I’m just about caught up with all seven seasons.
  • Grimm – The newest (and last) season just started a few weeks ago. Still love this show!
  • Bones – This newest (and also last) season recently started too. Always a good one!
  • New Girl – I stick with New Girl purely for Schmidt, Nick, and Winston. I can’t stand Jess. Seriously, so annoying. And most fake laugh ever.
  • Vampire Diaries – I think this is also the last season for this show. What am I going to watch next year?!
  • Quantico – Still hard to follow half of the time, but I like the second season more than the first. We used to watch together, but Greg got sick of it.
  • No Tomorrow – I just found out about and started this one on netflix. I don’t think it’s one of my favorites, but it’s cute and fun.

TV – Together:

  • The Affair – Still trucking along. I’m not really sure where this show is going. It’s okay.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Funny and entertaining and a little bit annoying. I’ve been irritable ever since Greg, my favorite character, left the show. I don’t like it as much as I used to.
  • Riverdale – This just started and we watched the first episode. I think we’ll like it!
  • The Flash – Always a favorite! Love that Barry Allen. 🙂
  • Arrow – Not so much a favorite anymore. But we can’t give it up.

I think that’s about it! With such a cold, icy, gloomy month there’s been a lot of book and tv consumption. I’d love to hear what you’re reading and watching!