Friday, April 9, 2021

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Oh, to be youngish and in love–ish.”

The above is my favorite line from the book. It's funny and flip while being something I could honestly imagine someone feeling. It embodies the best of French Exit.

The worst, well, the worst for me was turning the final page and thinking, what the hell did I just read?!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ain't no party like a late to the party, amiright? Yes, no, maybe? Hey, that could be a book title! Hell, it probably is!

So, I finally read Eat, Pray, Love. Fifteen years after publication, but so what? (People still read Moby Dick and that came out in the 1800s and is boring AF.) I fully admit I only picked it up for a zoom book club (which proceeded to be cancelled the day of the meeting, which is just one of the reasons why you rarely catch me messing with book clubs anymore).

I actually gave this a whirl shortly after it came out and quickly lost interest. The reason why escapes me, but maybe it was early on when our protagonist fell to the bathroom floor and began to pray. At that point I probably wondered if the "pray" part of the title was more key than I first imagined, and if this was going to be heavily religious, which isn't my bag, baby. I may have wondered that back then because I wondered this time around, too. Only this time I plunged onward because it was for a soon-to-be nonexistent book club meeting that I wanted to attend so I don't become a full-on hermit. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

What to Watch April 2021

What to Watch April 2021

Spring is finally here! Will I be plotting all the things I'll do outside, or what I'll be watching inside? Haha just kidding, we all know the answer to that. New shows will rain down on us in April, and I'm most looking forward to the comfort viewing that is Younger (in its seventh and final season!). But there's so much more that looks pretty damn good for a wide range of tastes.

As always, I've compiled a list of shows I'd like to see that will be available soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch viewing. 

And away we go! 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll by Ann & Nancy Wilson

Kicking & Dreaming by Ann & Nancy Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Heart, at its height, was a kick-ass band fronted by two talented sisters, the queens of rock. The book they wrote together doesn't rock as hard as they do, instead offering a limp look back at their lives. Fans will find a little something here to make it worth the read, but newcomers to the world of Heart won't find much to keep them turning those pages.

Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll tells the tale of Ann and Nancy Wilson from the beginning – the very beginning. As in, going back to long dead ancestors, then recounting how their parents met, their own births and childhoods, etc., before getting to the meat of their musical journey. They make a weak attempt at employing the popular method of starting with a smashing story to pull you in and then going back to tell things chronologically, but even the prologue isn't all that thrilling. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It feels weird to call this a fun book when it's about a serial killer, but it kind of is. The tale of two sisters, one blithely homicidal, the other dutifully trying to protect the other, is a fresh take on both the experience of being a woman in the world and dealing with a difficult sibling that you love in spite of it all.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is not really a laugh-out-loud type of story, but there's a bit of wit to the telling of it. There's just enough depth to glean an understanding of the two sisters and their motivations, but it's not trying to delve deep into plot or motivation. It gives enough to make it a good read (or listen, in my case).

Friday, March 5, 2021

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On the surface, this is a tale of a young woman who's had some hard knocks and her friend who got all the gifts of wealth, privilege and beauty. And also it's about some kids that burst into flames when upset. Nothing to see here, move along. Wink, wink.

It's different, witty, and off-beat. It's also a sly examination of what parenting must feel like, about what even making the decision to become a parent might be like. Good and bad, welcome and unwelcome, all at the same time. A huge change in your life either way. I don't know if that's what you're supposed to see here, but I think so. It's what I saw, anyway.

Friday, February 26, 2021

What to Watch March 2021

What to Watch March 2021

The world's still a huge mess, there's not enough vaccine, I'm spending my days hunting for shots for family members and dealing with other needs of elderly relatives amid a pandemic. The rough ride isn't over yet. One thing we look forward to at my house each night is setting the worries aside briefly to watch a little TV. On that front March is looking up, preparing to bloom with shows, documentaries and movies (some of which are big-budget blockbusters premiering on HBO Max!).

As always, I've compiled a list of shows I'd like to see that will be available soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch viewing. 

And away we go!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Lowborn by Kerry Hudson


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I was a private investigator, digging my way through my own deeply buried secrets, both desperate for answers and fighting to keep them hidden."

Growing up in poverty can leave lingering effects for the rest of your life. Author Kerry Hudson writes about surviving her impoverished childhood spent in public housing throughout a series of downtrodden towns in Great Britain in her insightful book, Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain's Poorest Towns.

She couldn't remember a lot about her young childhood, and had long-since broken contact with her mother. The erratic lifestyle and desperate poverty of Hudson's existence with her single mom left scars that lingered as Hudson, in her late 30s, decided to finally investigate her own past and put it down on paper. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

My Life So Far by Jane Fonda

My Life So Far by Jane Fonda

I can't remember the first Jane Fonda movie I ever saw. Perhaps it was Barbarella when I was way too young to take in all the sexual overtones, and I simply thought it was a fun sci-fi adventure (and that she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen). Also, that the biting dolls freaked me out.

Or maybe it was Barefoot in the Park, which bubbled with chemistry and charm so strong it almost sizzled off the TV screen. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford made a fizzy, fantastic pairing, and I couldn't resist watching whenever it came on.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Stonk stink made me think about investing


I finally find the stock market compelling, and all it took was a revolt against Wall Street.

Mentions of a tremor in the stock market pierced my Twitter feed here and there in late January, but I paid little mind. I understand the stock market about as much as I understand the appeal of heist movies – both baffle things me, but at least with the films I can follow the action and once in a blue moon enjoy it. I couldn't say the same of the stock market.

Then a Facebook friend shared a post explaining what the hell was going on with GameStop stock and the Reddit group wallstreetbets. (This post on Tales from the Geek gives an easy-to-follow rundown of what a short is and how Redditors took action when someone noticed that a hedge fund had dived deep into short trades against GameStop, making the stock ripe for a short squeeze, also explaining what the hell a short squeeze is.)

Friday, January 29, 2021

What to Watch February 2021

What to Watch February 2021

Ah, February is upon us, and the world is full of woe. But wait, what's that, does hope begin to grow? Who's to say, after all, I'm just here with the shows.

As always, I've compiled a list of shows I'd like to see that come to streaming soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch shows. 

And away we go!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Revisiting Sharky's Machine

Sharky's MachineEver harbor fond memories of a film you saw as a kid, then watch it again as an adult? Do that at your own peril, pal. Turns out you really can’t go home again, so to speak, but you might have fun trying.

Awhile back my husband and I sat down to watch Sharky’s Machine, a 1981 gritty crime thriller starring and directed by Burt Reynolds. We both originally watched it when we were too young to fully get it, possibly on HBO or cable. We couldn’t recall the where of it, only that we remembered Sharky as a badass with a cool name.

On our adult viewing, it looked a bit different. It’s hard to define – it wasn't good but not entirely bad, either; you could tell it was trying for something, a style, a mood, an artsy feel. As my husband put it afterwards, “I wouldn’t exactly call it good; it’s ambitious. It’s bizarre and trippy and very ’70s.” (Even though it came out in 1981, the lingering mist of the '70s was very much alive, especially in this film.)

Friday, January 15, 2021

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

This book is a wonder. It takes topics that normally wouldn't grab me (an old former soldier travelling around the Old West, a tragic tale of an orphan that sounds way too sad for me) and it snares me, hook, line and sinker. 

News of the World by Paulette Jiles introduces us to Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd as he makes his way through Texas post Civil War, making a living giving readings from a stack of newspapers to audiences seeking a window on the world. The old man has fought in two wars and lost a wife, and now enjoys his rambling life on the road. When he's asked to deliver a young orphan who had been captured and raised by members of the Kiowa tribe to her only living relatives, he reluctantly agrees. The heart, understanding and courage he displays on the perilous journey is matched by the young girl's bravery and tenacity in the face of being torn from the only family she remembers – her Kiowa family.

Friday, January 8, 2021

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel has a lot going on, a lot of different threads. There's a Ponzi scheme, ghosts, and moral dilemmas aplenty. It was a lot; at moments a little too much, but it somehow never quite went overboard for me.

Thanks to the dumpster fire that was 2020, my attention span for reading dimmed as the year wore on. I turned to short stories (and found many great ones), and still managed to get in several novels or full-length nonfiction books. But they seemed to take so long to get through! I didn't fly through this one at top speed, but I finished in less than two weeks, which was pretty damn good given my difficulty staying focused by the end of the year.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Slow Burner by Laura Lippman


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't read a lot of mysteries, but this was kind of fun. 

In Slow Burner by Laura Lippman, a woman finds her husband's secret burner phone with flirty text messages to another woman. Whatever will she do?