books and reading · pop culture

January 2018 Recap

January flew by, and I’m not sure I got as much done as I hoped I would. But let’s see how the month shook out:

Books:

Total: 51
Picture Books: 36
Middle Grade: 0
YA: 5
Adult: 10
Fiction: 48
Non-Fiction: 3
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 4350

Favorite Reads in January:
31207017Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed:

American-born Maya Aziz wants to be a good Indian Muslim daughter, but she also wants to make her own way in the world. She loves filmmaking and wants to attend NYU, but her parents are completely against it. And don’t even get them started on what it would mean to date a white boy. When a terrorist attack close to home threatens everything she loves, Maya has to figure out how to stand on her own.

A very well done book about coming of age in the modern era, with a narrator whose voice is authentic and compelling. This sweet story was really great and holds a ton of teen appeal. It reminded me in many ways of an updated version of Marie G. Lee’s Finding My Voice.

Next Year for Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson: Chris and Kathryn have been together for 30201150nine years, and they’re pretty happily ensconced in their domestic life. But then Chris meets Emily, and Kathryn tells him to ask her out on a date. The two embark on open relationships that alter their perceptions of romantic love and of themselves.

Read for my book club, I really loved this weird literary novel about polyamory and bucking convention. It was well-written, thoughtful, and totally ambiguous, which I like. Full of complicated and garbage-y characters, too. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it was for me.

Viewing

Total Movies: 3
New: 2
Re-Watch: 1

Favorite Movies in January:

ladybirdLady Bird: I loved this movie by Greta Gerwig about a girl’s senior year of high school. It’s a quiet, weird little movie, set in 2002-2003, which is when I graduated high school, so I’m sure that’s partly why I liked it so much. But it’s also about mothers and daughters, and being a weird girl, and it was a total delight.

I’m already way behind in my “watch 52 new movies in 2018” thing, so we’ll see how the rest of the year goes.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’m nearly done with a re-watch of The Fosters, which I can’t even explain. I really like the first two seasons of the show, but I have to say that as I approach the end (with the understanding that new episodes are still airing, for now), it’s become so sudsy and silly that it’s hard to stay with it. Callie makes the dumbest choices and Jesus is the WORST, no matter who they cast to play him.

I’ve gotten really into 911 on Fox, and I’m embarrassed to say that that is the only thing I’m current with (except for The Bachelor, but that is another story entirely).

I’m also watching One Day at a Time on Netflix, because the second season just premiered, and it is as great as I remembered it. Seriously, it’s a show you should be watching.

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books and reading · pop culture

November 2017 Recap

I spent a lot of November writing for NaNoWriMo (and finished by the skin of my teeth), which meant I didn’t read as much as I would have liked, and I stopped blogging almost completely. But here’s how the month shook out:

Books:

Total: 32
Picture Books: 22
Middle Grade: 3
YA: 2
Adult: 5
Fiction: 32
Non-Fiction: 0
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 2927

Favorite Reads in November:
33876540Bonfire by Krysten Ritter:
Abby left her tiny hometown in Indiana and never looked back. But now she’s an environmental lawyer in Chicago, and her team has been sent back to her hometown to investigate a company that might be leaching chemicals into the water. She has to confront the demons of her past as she digs deeper into a conspiracy that’s more far-reaching than she ever imagined.

I devoured this twisty thriller in a couple of days. Ritter’s debut novel is compelling, smart, and super well-written. I was blown away by this one, and it’s one of my favorite reads of the year.

Viewing

thor_ragnarok-115636540-large

Total Movies: 4
New: 4
Re-Watch: 0

Favorite Movies in November: Thor: Ragnarok 

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

Somehow I’ve ended up deep into a rewatch of Grey’s Anatomy, which has taken over my life. I’m into season 6, and I don’t even know how it’s happened.

We’re onto the last month of the year! I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more movies and books before revamping my goals for the new year.

 

books and reading · pop culture

October 2017 Recap

I can’t believe October is over and we’re into November. I’m sad that my favorite month of the year has come to a close. Here’s how October shook out:

Books:

Total: 34
Picture Books: 25
Middle Grade: 2
YA: 3
Adult: 4
Fiction: 34
Non-Fiction: 0
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 3079

Favorite Reads in October: 

31931941Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: I just loved this sweet story about a weird girl and a weird boy who meet and form a friendship. I loved the exploration of the online world merging with the real world, and I thought that Zappia did a nice job of blending two very different stories together. I think this is one of the best YA books I’ve read this year.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare: A super fun regency33259027 romance featuring two strong characters and genuinely scorching chemistry. This wasn’t my first Dare novel, and it won’t be my last one, either. The first in a new series, this is definitely one to check out, even if you’re not a regular reader of romance.

 

Viewing

Total Movies: 2
New: 2
Re-Watch: 0

Favorite Movies in October: 

None. I watched 47 Meters Down and Kong: Skull Island, and both were DUMB.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’ve been re-watching Sex and the City, and I’m up to season 4. The show is still funny in many ways, and I do love the female friendships that center the series, but there are things about it that have not aged well at all. It’s really transphobic, and it’s still maybe the whitest thing on television?

We’re still watching The Office, and we’re in season 6, which apart from Jim and Pam’s wedding, is a pretty unremarkable season. It’s starting to be a slog, but I think we’re both determined to finish it.

 

I’m hoping to get a few more movies in this next month (I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s no way I’ll meet my year-end goal), and read some more titles on best of lists.

 

books and reading · pop culture

September Recap

September was a busy month, which meant considerably less reading and watching of all sorts of things. Here’s how the month turned out:

Books:

Total: 15
Picture Books: 6
Middle Grade: 1
YA: 4
Adult: 4
Fiction: 14
Non-Fiction: 1
Audiobooks: 1
Total Pages Read: 2169

Favorite Reads in September:

25062038Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert: Colbert’s sophomore novel about a girl back from boarding school for the summer who is grappling with her brother’s mental illness as well as her own burgeoning bisexuality could be a heavy-handed “issues” book, but it isn’t. The novel is actually an understated, compelling look at a bunch of things that happen when you grow up. It’s a strong second book, and Colbert continues to be an author to watch.

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner: A 25701463compelling story about a deaf girl being mainstreamed at a hearing school after getting booted from her Deaf one, Gardner’s smart novel about street art, passion, and feeling like an angry outsider had me turning pages waiting to see how it shook out. I think this is one of the best YA books of the year and will resonate with a lot of readers.

Viewing

Total Movies: 3
New: 3
Re-Watch: 0

Favorite Movies in September: 

the_big_sickThe Big Sick: I loved loved loved this fictional take on Kumail Nanjiani and his now-wife Emily’s relationship when she got really sick with an infection. It’s funny, sweet, weird, and heartfelt, and I found it totally charming. I watched it twice in a row, I loved it so much. One of my favorite movies of the year, absolutely.

 

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I watched all of season 1 of The Good Place and absolutely loved it. I think it’s smart and funny and totally weird, and I can’t wait to get more into season 2.

We’re still watching The Office, and we’re in season 4, which is definitely a creative slump for the show. But there’s still some good stuff coming, so I’m hopeful the boyf will stick with it (his track record is not great when it comes to finishing shows.

I also watched 3 seasons of You’re the Worst and looooved it.

That’s it, really. I’m hoping to read more genre fiction in September, and try to squeeze in a few movies, too. My movie watching ratio is absymal.

books and reading · pop culture

August 2017 Recap

This is how the month of August shaped up for me in terms of reading books and watching movies. And a lot of terrible TV.

Books:

Total: 35
Picture Books: 21
Middle Grade: 3
YA: 3
Adult: 8
Fiction: 30
Non-Fiction: 5
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 4254

Favorite Reads in August:

32940879Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed: I loved this dystopian tale about an island where the (increasingly inbred) population follows a religion based on ancestor worship and strange mating rituals. It’s dark and haunting and beautifully written. I couldn’t pt it down. It’s one of my favorite reads of the year.

Grit by Gillian French: This fantastic YA novel about a girl31706530 living with a reputation in rural Maine was gripping and gorgeous. It’s my favorite kind of YA: dark, a little gritty, and featuring an authentic teen voice. French is an author to watch, and this is one of my favorite YA novels of the year, for sure.

Viewing

Total Movies: 6
New: 5
Re-Watch: 1

Favorite Movies in August: 

landlineLandline: I really really liked this dramedy about a family each dealing with their own issues. Set in 1995, things change for youngest daughter Ali (Abby Quinn) when she realizes her father (John Turturro) is having an affair. Meanwhile, Ali’s older sister Dana (Jenny Slate) starts to question her long-term relationship with nice guy Ben (Jay Duplass). It’s a smart movie, full of genuinely funny and sad moments about family and love and sisters, and while director Gillian Robespierre’s first movie Obvious Child remains my favorite, I really loved watching this tighter, more controlled narrative.

Everything else I watched in August was mostly garbage, including Baywatch, Beatriz at Dinner, and The Dinner.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’m almost done with Dawson’s Creek, and I want it to be over so desperately. I also can’t not finish, so I’m stuck in a pain cycle of my own doing. Everyone on the show is simultaneously boring and also the worst. I forgot how boring the show is in general, but it’s especially true of the college years.

I finally convinced the boyf to watch The Office, so we’ve been tearing through that. We started with Season 2, because he’s particularly sensitive to super awkward humor, and he seems to really be enjoying it, which is fun for me because it’s still one of my absolute favorite series.

That’s it, really. I’m hoping to read more genre fiction in September, and try to squeeze in a few movies, too.

books and reading · pop culture

January 2017 Recap

This is how the month of January shook out for me. These are the things I watched and read:

Books:

Total: 49
Picture Books: 27
Middle Grade: 6
YA: 4
Adult: 12
Fiction: 41
Non-Fiction:8
Audiobooks: 5
Total Pages Read: 5596

Favorite Reads in January:
30231763Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller: A collection of stories about women in doomed relationships. While most are romantic in nature, there are a few where unhealth friendships or other non-romantic relationships are explored.  All of the stories are beautifully written, with searing truths about what it is like to be an American woman in this day and age, and Miller’s writing cuts right to the bone.  There are some standouts here; in particular “Big Bad Love” and “The House on Main Street,” but all of the stories can stand on their own.  This is one I’d like to own, so I can revisit favorite passages again and again.

The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan: I read this short middle 28594983grade novel in one sitting at the desk at work, and I had to work very hard not to sob while doing so. It’s a simple story narrated in large part by a dog who has recently lost his owner, a poet.  The dog rescues two children in a terrible snow storm, and the three form an intense bond. The result is a lovely story about the unconditional love dogs have for humans, the wonder both children and poets have, and the hope that life can bring. I loved it.

6527979The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na: A very cute, beautifully illustrated picture book about an elephant who cannot figure out what the thingamabob is supposed to do. It will captivate young readers and entertain adults, too. I have hopes of using this in a toddler storytime sometime this year, because I think it will be a hit. Il Sung Na is an author to watch out for.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: Amanda has moved to a 26156987new town after a brutal attack and is hoping to start over as her true self. But she also knows she has to try to fly under the radar for her own safety, which becomes harder when she falls for a boy at her new school. A story about a trans girl by a trans author that doesn’t result in total tragedy or darkness, this is a contemporary, necessary story that’s important not only for cis teens but for trans ones as well. It’s romantic, universal, and engaging. I loved it.

Movies:

Total: 17
New: 11
Re-Watch: 6

Favorite Movies in January: 
hf.jpgHidden Figures: The Oscar nominations for this movie are well-deserved. It’s a fairly typical bio-pic, but it’s still compelling as hell and very moving. I loved every minute of watching these amazing women solve math problems and face unbelievable sexism and racism.

American Honey: Definitely overly-long (I couldn’t believe the ah.pngruntime was nearly 3 hours), but very compelling. Star says she’s 18 and might be telling the truth when she hooks up with a ragtag group of teens who travel the country in a van, selling magazines and partying in cheap motels. The result is a road trip movie that sort of meanders through its storyline, and if it weren’t for the excellent cast and interesting directing, it would fall apart. But the result is a beautiful movie more interested in examining the inner life of its female protagonist than anything else. I really liked it, but I’ll admit it’s not for everyone.

books and reading · pop culture

October 2015 Recap

Reading:

Best Book of the Month:  Infandous by Elana K. Arnold

Books Read: 21
Adult: 0
MG: 0
YA: 21
Children’s: 0
Fiction: 21
Non-fiction/Memoir: 0
Graphic Novel: 0
# of Pages Read: 5343

Thoughts on October’s Reading: 

I read a lot of books but still feel like I could have read more.  I love reading for the Cybils, but work has gotten unexpectedly busy and life is getting in the way consistently.  I’m hoping to at least match the number of titles read for November, but we’ll see.

October was a bad month for watching stuff.  I watched a few movies and marathoned The Good Wife, but nothing to really report on here, which is embarrassing.

Goals for November:

  • At least 20 more books read for the Cybils.
  • At least 10 movies that are new to me.  I need to get out of the habit of re-watching shows/movies I’ve already seen.  It’s easy to do when you’re a distracted viewer and like to multi-task, but it’s wreaking havoc on my pop culture goals.