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