My reading tastes tend to be pretty straightforward. I read non-fiction history, classic British mysteries and science fiction fantasy. I don’t read quite as much sci-fi/fantasy as I used to, but L. E. Modesitt remains one of my favorite authors.
Isolate is the first book in his newest series. It is set in a steampunk world with steamers (steam powered automobiles) and the beginnings of an industrial age. There are empaths who can detect emotions in others and use their feelings to protect or attack, susceptibles who are particularly able to be influenced by empaths, and isolates who are immune to empaths. While not devoid of action, much of the writing focuses around political intrigue and an exploration of issues that face society and government. I definitely enjoy the world building and the exploration of character that Modesitt portrays in this book. This is definitely a book I would recommend for those who enjoy reading intricate fantasy novels.
This is probably my favorite album of all time. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I have always been a huge fan of the pop punk scene. This album started all of that for me. At the time, it was the highest grossing indie album ever, though I had no idea of that. I enjoyed that they sang about real life events but didn’t take themselves too seriously. It has quite a bit of strong language; I remember playing this cassette on the stereo in my room and having to turn it down whenever there was an extended bout of swearing. I don’t listen to The Offspring quite as much as I used to (I have two children with me much of the time), but they definitely remain a favorite.
Available to stream here or any music streaming services.
Hobby: Home Brewing
I really enjoy tasting craft beer and am a huge fan of Central Standard Brewing. However, there is a lot to be said for making something yourself, which is what got me into home brewing. I started simply about 10 years ago as an extract brewer with kits that I purchased online. Extract brewing involves taking a malt syrup extract or powder, boiling it with 3 or so gallons of water on your stove while adding hops and then putting it into a vessel to ferment. When it is done fermenting, you add some sugar and bottle it up. In 4 to 6 weeks you have beer.
I made some good beer this way, but when you are a home brewer you are always looking to up your game. At the start of the pandemic and unable to visit many of our favorite places, my friend and I decided to recommit to home brewing. He has an all grain system in his garage, so we started brewing exclusively on that. We began to develop our own recipes and have produced some excellent beer. While brewing does require a high level of cleanliness and precision, it is definitely a rewarding hobby. It’s a lot of fun to share a beer with your friends and hear, “You brewed this? It’s really good!”
TV Show: Castle
Growing up, I used to watch a show called Murder She Wrote with my mother. We both enjoyed its lighthearted nature and trying to figure out the killer before the reveal.
Fast forward twenty or so years, and my wife introduced me to a show called Castle. Just like Murder She Wrote, it features a mystery writer who solves murders when the police appear to be baffled. The two leads, Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, have great chemistry that makes the show fun to watch. I enjoy the witty repartee and discovering who the killer is. True, it’s a bit more intense than Murder She Wrote, but it’s still a fun show. Like many long running TV series, I would definitely saw that the first three seasons are the best, though the series remains fun throughout.
When Lux and her boyfriend are hired to sail two women to a remote island for a large chunk of change, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. After a few days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise they expect, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. And when one person goes missing and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them will make it off the island alive.
There is quite a bit of tension and unease throughout this book. What seems to be a light and fun time suddenly becomes a nightmare. Nothing major happens in this book until about a third of the way into it, and then it becomes fast-paced and full of action. It all happens so quickly, so I think the ending could have been a little tidier, but otherwise, this is an interesting island thriller!
The long-awaited season four of Stranger Things came out this summer and… WOW! I watched seasons one through three in a several-day-long binge with my husband in 2019, so we have been patiently waiting for the story to continue for the past few years. Season four came out in two parts, and for each one, we spent the day hunkered down binge-watching! I am so excited about how the plot is progressing in the series. If you have no clue what Stranger Things is about, here is a summary.
“When Will Byers suddenly goes missing, the whole town of Hawkins, Indiana, turns upside down. Many people search for Will, including his mother Joyce, his brother Jonathan, his friends Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Police Chief Jim Hopper, and a few others. But one thing leads to another, creating a supernatural trail. And things get even weirder when a girl, Eleven, comes into the story. She has telekinetic powers and is on the run from the Hawkins Laboratory. The laboratory is researching supernatural phenomena and might have unwittingly unlocked a gateway to another dimension.” (imdb.com)
If you have not watched Stranger Things yet, I recommend hopping on the bandwagon because the next season will be the final season!
Available to stream on Netflix.
Hobby:MadFit for Lifestyle/Health
When the world shut down in 2020, we all had to find ways to live our lives within our own four walls. Working out is something I enjoy, and I go to the gym nearly every day. I like working out in a way that works strength and mobility, but not in a way that makes me feel like I am dying (no offense runners). I discovered the YouTube channel MadFit in my search on how to do at-home workouts without equipment. Maddie Lymburner runs the channel and offers workouts for literally everything. HIIT workouts, dance workouts, stretching, strength, and anything else you can think of. Even now that the gyms are open again, I have her workouts written down in my notes on my phone, so I do them there too.
Recently, she has created an app where you can pay for a subscription to keep you on track with your fitness goals. This app helps track your diet and make workout plans designed for your needs. I just like to use the free YouTube videos, but this is a great option for anyone who might want a little more structure with getting started!
Available to watch here and the MadFit app can be downloaded on the App store or Google Play.
Music: Harry’s House
Oh boy, do I love a good Harry Styles album. Harry’s House is the third solo album from Harry since the band he was in, One Direction, went on a hiatus. Many may not know, but I was an avid Directioner (still am), which is what One Direction fans called themselves back in 2012. While I occasionally listen to the other four member’s solo music, Harry’s has consistently been my favorite. I have even gotten my family to be fans of the music. Harry’s House ranks second on my list of his albums. My absolute favorite is the first album, Harry Styles, and third is Fine Line. All are amazing, and I recommend you give them a listen if you haven’t already. My favorite songs from the new album are Matilda and Daydreaming.
Here is 12-year-old me pumped to get a magazine with One Direction on the cover for my birthday. I guess I am just as big of a fan girl as I was ten years ago!
Stream the album here or any music streaming platform.
This is one of those books that will stay with me forever. The Center of Everything is about Evelyn and her journey from childhood to the end of high school in a small town in Kansas. She’s being raised by a single mother and has a younger brother with mental development issues. Evelyn is an intelligent girl with a lot of opportunity, but she’s battling poverty and being raised on a single income.
I loved everything about this book. The timeline didn’t feel slow at all, and the progression from her being a young girl to an almost college student felt natural. She’s spunky and funny, and though it can feel easy to feel frustrated at her sometimes, remembering she’s a young fictional girl dealing with a lot of grown-up issues really sets the story in perspective. Evelyn deals with religious questioning and peer pressure all throughout the book, as well as figuring out her relationship and feelings towards her mother. These difficult topics in this book hit hard, and the way Evelyn deals with it all is realistic for a teenage girl just trying to figure out life. The other characters in this book are also well written, in my opinion. No one is perfect, and there are a lot of characters I feel like I’ve met before. Another thing I liked about this book was that it was set back in the 1980s, so seeing how a young Kansas girl’s life was back then was cool. I am so glad that I was able to read this book as a young adult because I feel like a lot of my teenage memories are still fresh, so I was able to really immerse myself in Evelyn’s world, a world that was very similar to mine.
It’s been years since I’ve binge watched a show in one sitting, but Under the Banner of Heaven changed that. I had seen the book being checked out quite frequently and noticed it had a large hold list, but I’d never given it much thought until I saw it being advertised on the home page of Hulu. From the first episode, I was hooked. The story and characters were intriguing, so I had to keep watching. The story centers on the Mormon faith and a real-life murder in Utah. Andrew Garfield plays a fictional detective, but his character was by far my favorite. His personal dilemma keeps the show interesting, and I loved his interactions with any of the characters on the show. The show goes between past, present, and historical times, which I did like because it helped set context for what was going on. Because of how fantastic this show was to watch, I am now reading the nonfiction book on which it was based.
The show has seven episodes, and each is about an hour long. Viewer discretion is advised for topics such as religion, abuse, abuse of children, and murder.
Available on Hulu and we do have the book the show is based available to check out here.
Music/Album: Un Verano Sin Ti
Have you listened to Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti? I would be surprised if you haven’t, seeing that the album is the most streamed album so far this year, earning 357 million streams just on the Spotify app on its debut day.
Besides listening to every music genre under the sun in English, I also grew up listening to just about every music genre in Spanish. Reggaeton quickly became one of my favorite genres when I was little, as it was a mix of Latin and Caribbean sounds paired with American hip-hop rap and music. It’s a fun genre that I will never get tired of. Bad Bunny is a modern reggaeton artist from Puerto Rico, influenced by the same classic artists I grew up listening to. His most popular album, YHLQMDG, is regarded as one of the most important albums in reggaeton music. His newest album was no exception to that popularity.
The album title in English is “A Summer Without You,” and it makes the perfect summer playlist for a day by the pool or at the beach. Each song is danceable and no song is just like the last, as Bad Bunny experimented a lot with this album. There are a lot of sounds that are familiar to me, but that is because he samples old songs from the many genres I grew up with, like merengue or hip-hop. The album has two sides, with one being pure party and the other being easier to listen to. Side B has a lot of political songs with great messages, all tied together with instrumentals rarely seen on a party album. Nonetheless, Un Verano Sin Ti is still a high energy album for sure, and I make sure to play any song at the loudest volume possible. I can listen to this album at any time, it doesn’t matter if I’m cleaning, walking, or swimming. My favorite songs are Despues de la Playa, Efecto, Andrea, Party, and Me Porto Bonito.
Even if you don’t speak Spanish, especially Puerto Rican and Caribbean Spanish, I think this important album is a must-listen to if you’re looking for a top tier summer playlist.
Available to stream here or on any music streaming platform.
Video Game: Kirby and the Forgotten Land
The Kirby games are a huge comfort for me, since I was probably 8 years old. Kirby is my favorite video game character and I’ve enjoyed all the Kirby games I’ve played. Needless to say, I was super excited for the release of Kirby and the Forgotten Land. The pre-release footage looked so fun and the story seemed fascinating. Thankfully, our library is pretty good at getting new video game releases out to be circulated!
The game was adorable and nostalgic. A lot of Kirby’s powers were just like his powers from some of the previous games, but the new ones were just as funny and cute. The villains were exciting, and some of them were tough to beat, admittedly. While Kirby is the cutest creature in the universe, this is a fighting game through and through. Getting to learn how to use certain powers and upgrades was challenging, especially when you’re fighting with a low health bar. The story almost had me playing this game in one sitting too! Not only that, but the mini-games and hidden levels make it so easy to get out of the main story. There’s so much to learn about the game, and I’m excited to beat the game again and again to make sure I don’t miss a thing.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is available to check out here for the Switch.
Hobby/Concert: Monsta X Tour Show
I’ve been waiting for this concert for years—literally. I originally bought my tickets back in January 2020, fully expecting to attend the show that following June. A pandemic, rescheduled shows, and a canceled one later, I would finally get to go see a favorite group of mine at a new show with new seats.
Before I turned 18, besides studying, I actually spent most of my free time at concerts. Since college and the pandemic, I haven’t been to a concert in a very long time. I mainly just went to punk rock shows and the occasional pop or rap artist, but my tastes have grown since then to include the Korean boy group, Monsta X. They’re natural performers, winning awards back home for their stage presence and ability to sing and dance live. I don’t really like pop boy groups, but Monsta X easily stole my heart. If you don’t like listening to music in a language you don’t understand, they have two English albums dedicated to their international fans, full of pop and R&B songs.
The concert itself was just top-tier amazing. They are so interactive with the crowd (I even got a wave!) and hype the audience up all the way. Their live vocals are fantastic, even while dancing, and their dancing abilities are insane. I also loved all the outfits they wore throughout the show. They matched the themes of their songs and helped set the scene for what they were about to perform. I have so many favorite moments from the concert. From solo stages that showcased their individual talents and strengths, from the EDM-esque songs that led me to bump into the people around me, and especially their speeches. Three of the members are near fluent in English, so it was so nice to hear them talk to their international fans about how the pandemic affected them and their tours. All of the members love touring and performing live, and after leaving that show, it was beyond a doubt proven to me.
Below are some of my favorite photos that I took from the show.
You can listen to Monsta X here or on any music streaming platform.
A terrible accident kills a daughter, her father, her mother’s boyfriend, and her fiancé the night before the wedding. Since it’s a small town, rumors fly and having a space to grieve is difficult for the few family members left. So difficult that one of them goes across the country for a clear mind. The book is told in no particular order from many people’s points of view, all leading to a true resolution. This was a super emotional read. Going through multiple points of view during different times and nothing in order, I came into it thinking I would be confused and wouldn’t enjoy it. I’m glad I was proven wrong. Despite timelines seeming like they’re going all over the place, it was pretty easy to grasp the story early on, and I felt the flow of the story was better this way than it could’ve been from just one point of view and sequentially. Bill Clegg tells the story of grief and broken families with imperfect people. There weren’t any main characters, but I would say that the mothers really drove this story. This is definitely a depressing book, but I felt like the book ended in the best way that it could, with comfort and resolution.
I read it on our Libby app but we also have physical copies in our catalog.
I am finally catching up with the rest of the world and have started watching Succession. It is brilliantly funny. Succession takes a look into the lives of a family that has built its massive wealth by managing the news, media, and theme parks from all over the world. The family is messy and two-faced, with the main siblings fighting for power amongst one another and doing anything they can to get it. No one is likeable in this series, and I think that’s why I’m obsessed with it. Also, the soundtrack is killer, as well as the acting. It doesn’t seem like a comedy from this description, but I think it’s because it is actually dark humor in the true sense. The stuff that happens to this family and the stuff that they do is just so surreal that you just have to laugh. It’s hard for me to take breaks while watching Succession. I am almost done with the latest season.
There are a lot of adult themes and scenes, so I would refrain from watching if you’re underage or not comfortable with watching that.
You can find it on HBOMax and we do have the first two seasons on DVD at the Derby Public Library.
The album that has been on constant rotation these past few months has been Hozier’s Wasteland, Baby! This genre is one I do not listen to much of. My Spotify statistics can verify that I mainly listen to R&B, but this album has a lot of influences from gospel, soul, and blues artists—the beginnings of my favorite genre. Hozier is a powerful singer and a remarkable lyricist. His debut album caught my attention for the first time back in November, and I had it on constant repeat. Naturally, I found myself listening to his second one, and it became an instant favorite, moreso than his debut. Themes of activism and love found throughout this album resonate with me, and the blend of folk with different genres is done so well. My favorite songs on the album are “No Plan” and “Dinner & Diatribes.”
We have the album available to checkout at the Derby Public Library or you can stream it on any music streaming service you use.
Hobby:Lego (Batman Car)
Following the theme of “stuff I usually don’t do,” I have accidentally found myself creating a LEGO collection. I did not grow up with LEGOs and never saw the appeal of them as I got older. Last month I built a set meant for someone else, and thus my newest and most expensive hobby was born.
I mainly started off with smaller sets of franchises I liked, then worked towards more difficult sets with lots of pieces. Admittedly, I love doing puzzles, so it’s not that farfetched that I got into LEGO building. My newest build was a Technic set of Batman’s car in the latest movie, and it was a beast. I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to pick out my next LEGO set.
I adored the 1954 version of Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn, so I was pretty excited to see how the 1995 version would hold up. It was just as comedic and romantic as the original. Sabrina’s actress was phenomenal in the role, and I especially liked her solo parts. Harrison Ford’s character was also entertaining, and certainly different from the majority of the roles he does. My favorite difference between this version and the older one is that the Paris scenes are actually filmed in Paris. It made the film look more authentic and helped with the growth of Sabrina’s character on screen. Maybe because I usually find romantic endings to be cheesy, my favorite part of the movie was Sabrina’s time in Paris. I think if you’re looking for something familiar and sweet, I would give this movie a watch if you haven’t.
We have the DVD to check out in the library catalog.
A few weeks ago, per one of my best friend’s advice, I started New Girl. I’ve almost started it many times, but I’d heard mixed reviews (from people I know. The show overall has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, though, if that means something to you. The first season only has 87%, but that’s already a great place to start). I am an avid re-watcher of Parks and Recreation, and while the writers are different, the idea of having a quirky and passionate protagonist (Jess), who is definitely naive and socially awkward at times but still very loved by those around her, is still at the heart of the show. Because I trust that friend who said, “Grace, I know you’re Leslie Knope, but you’re also very much Jess,” and she was right.
The first season begins with our main heroine, Jess moving into a loft with three bachelors. Their lovely apartment boasts one bathroom, a sketchy garbage disposal, and terribly patched up plumbing problems (by Nick, one of her new roommates), due to their fear of the landlord, played by Jeff Kober. The guys and Jess learn about love, friendship, how to compromise on sharing their space, even when Jess spends all day crying on the couch, watching Dirty Dancing for the seventh time, and cry-singing along to I’ve Had the Time of My Life.
Available for checkout from the Derby Public Library (because I just returned it, don’t worry), streaming on Hulu, and maybe still streaming on Netflix?
This Black Panther comic book follows NYPD officer, Misty Knight (girlfriend to Sam Wilson aka Captain America), as she investigates the death of a civil rights activist named Ezra, who died while in police custody. Featuring familiar names and faces such as Storm, Black Panther, Luke Cage, and Manifold, Misty must uncover the truth about the dark forces at work in Harlem.
The story spans decades and shows how Ezra has been trying to make Harlem a better place since he was a young man, back in 1957. There is a moment in the story, where some of the “good guys” realize that they have grown to have the same calloused, and bitter hearts as those they are fighting, and they have begun participating in the same senseless acts of violence that had separated them from the “bad guys.” That’s one of my all-time favorite tropes in any action story, especially in comic books, and one of the many things that made this a fantastic read!
Available for checkout from the Derby Public Library and online, if you’ve set up your Hoopla account (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do! It’s a super convenient way to still get the titles you need, especially during those crazy snow days when you don’t want to leave the house).
I know Black History Month will technically have just ended by the time this post comes up on the blog, but that only means that you’ve (hopefully) seen a lot of great new authors promoted over the past month and your TBR list is now a mile long. An author I follow on Instagram shared this challenge, and I was really excited (and not just because my copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God has been sitting at home, unread).
Here are a few of the books that I’ve read / am reading for this challenge:
(If you haven’t read this book yet, know that the author did not shy away from raw dialogue and difficult scenes. Her book contains a lot of triggering content including but not limited to domestic abuse, racism, references to slavery, and violence – especially towards women.)
Written in the style of a news hour from a town that sounds like Lemony Snicket thought it up, welcome to Night Vale gives “community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, where every conspiracy theory is true.” I can’t think of any other way to describe this except to say that if you enjoy satire and sci-fi this podcast has a great mix of both. Here’s an excerpt from the first episode:
“Lights. Seen in the sky above the Arby’s. Not the glowing sign of Arby’s. Something higher, and beyond that. We know the difference. We’ve caught on to their game. We understand the ‘lights above Arby’s’ game.
Invaders from another world.
Ladies and gentlemen, the future is here, and it’s about 100 feet above the Arby’s.”
Available on Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts
Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, Rory, live in the small town of Stars Hollow. Their life is full of drama, life changes, and small-town relationships. My mom and I first watched this when I started high school, and every year since then, we have watched it. Somehow, it has become our cozy series to watch during the holiday season. All of the actors and actresses in the show are talented and well-known today. Despite the series being released in 2000, it is a timeless coming of age story that is enjoyable for all audiences.
Available for checkout through the Derby Public Library
Podcast:Dark History hosted by Bailey Sarian
Bailey Sarian is the host of the Dark History podcast, which I listen to on Spotify. She started the podcast to talk about topics that are a little too dark or theory-based to cover in history class. I first found Bailey on YouTube with her Murder, Mystery, and Makeup series, where she does a full face of makeup while explaining a true murder story. She has a talent for researching and retelling stories with such dark topics. She is loose with her language and is a little sarcastic. Although in my opinion, that adds to the story. Most podcast episodes are pretty short and fun, and I enjoy listening to them in my free time.
Available on Spotify, Youtube, or whatever you listen to your podcasts.
Organizing and reorganizing are two of my favorite things to do. Last year, I aimed to adopt a capsule wardrobe. If you are unfamiliar with this idea, essentially, you own just enough clothes that you will regularly wear and nothing more. I first found the author, Anna Newton, on YouTube as The Anna Edit. On her channel, she has videos explaining her wardrobe. She explains what she looks for when purchasing new items, quality over quantity.
Her book, An Edited Life, describes living a semi-minimalist lifestyle. It gives the basics of how to start decluttering your mental and physical space. Anna Newton uses comedic writing and colorful language in this book. It makes it feel like she is just a friend chatting with you about living a simple life.
Available for checkout through the Derby Public Library
Audiobook:Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I listened to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell on Libby. This is a young adult book about a college freshman, Cath. Her twin sister, Wren, has committed to the college girl lifestyle and leaves Cath on her own. Cath is a writer of Simon Snow fan fiction. She has spent years editing the fictional world of her favorite story in order to escape her reality. Throughout the story, Cath is falling in love with a real guy, not a fictional character, and it was fun to hear her inner dialogue as she tries to navigate her priorities and emotions. I enjoyed how easy this book was to listen to, and that it was a simple boy meets girl kind of story.
Audiobook available for checkout through the Sunflower eLibrary or the Libby app, book available for checkout through the Derby Library
I love all kinds of music, but lately, this album by Kaleo is the only thing I play. I am a fan of their album A/B which they released in 2016. So, when Surface Sounds came out in 2021, I was more than ready to hear it. Kaleo is an “Icelandic blues-rock” band, and their style checks all the boxes for what I think makes music enjoyable. My favorite songs on this album are Skinny and Backbone. Plus, this CD is available for checkout at the Derby Public Library!
A TV show that I have been watching is White Collar. This TV show is really funny and enjoyable for the whole family. This show ran several seasons. It is about the FBI White Collar division and several cases they handle on a daily basis. The lead actor Matt Bomer plays Neal Caffery, a notorious art thief and con man that is doing his time by helping the White Collar division catch thieves and con men. Neal uses several tactics, most of which are not FBI approved and he always gets out of trouble. His handler/assigned detective grows close to him and eventually calls him family. This show was funny and heart warming with a tad bit of mystery all in one. I liked this especially when I had a long day and needed something to laugh at and something to calm down to. It quickly became a routine to watch after getting off work.
Available for checkout from the Derby Public Library
Game:What Do You Meme?
Currently I am playing a board game called ‘What do you Meme.’ This game is really fun to play with friends and family. I play it every Wednesday night with a group of 7 friends and we always end up laughing and having a great time. There are different variations of the game, but I like the Tik Tok version. It is a lot of fun.
Available for purchase through Amazon, Walmart, or Target.
Emoji:Smiley with hearts
My favorite emoji is the smiley emoji with the heart eyes. I use this emoji a lot because it tells people that I am super happy. I am pretty sure that I use it 20 or more times a day.
I am currently reading The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I am enjoying this book so much. I have read it several times and every time I read it, the book gets better. I love the thrill of going on an adventure to pick out a false prince and con the king and queen, but is it really a con? I love the mystery and the new little bits I pick up from reading it over and over.
My favorite soundtrack right now is the Encanto soundtrack. I am loving the upbeat and catchy music. Every time I hear it I just want to sing and dance along. In the soundtrack, my favorite song is We Don’t Talk About Bruno because it is really catchy, plus it tells the story really well.
Available for checkout from the Derby Public Library
I absolutely adore this show. It was created by the Irish actress, comedian, and writer Aisling Bea, who also stars alongside the hilarious and talented Irish actress and writer Sharon Horgan. Bea plays the younger sister to Horgan and is struggling to regain her confidence after spending some time in a mental health facility.
The show consists of the two women trying to figure out their lives and relationships, and also goofing around together. It is really funny, but it’s also sad and relatable and poignant. In addition to being hilarious, Bea and Horgan’s characters are complex and feel real. If you’re anything like me, you’ll wish you could hang out with them!
Available on Hulu and best watched with a large glass of wine
I recently came across this newsletter in the Sunday New York Times and had such a good time reading her book reviews I tore through a bunch more from an earlier iteration with Vulture as well. Young is witty and concise. At one point, she admits to being a slow reader and was practicing to get faster. I mention that just to say, I admire her honesty and slightly confessional tone.
She reviews books old and new—it’s all fair game. But perhaps my favorite feature of each review is the “read if you like” bit at the end. They’re creative, and helpful in figuring out whether or not to add the book to my reading list. Here’s an example from Young’s most recent newsletter about the book “The Possessed” by Elif Batuman:
“Read if you like: Sherlock Holmes, wearing a big shapeless coat, reflecting on your plight, the comedy of Tim Robinson”
Here, I’ll take a stab at my own:
Read Read Like the Wind if you like: Telling jokes under your breath no one can hear, black and white movies, freshly sharpened pencils, Dorothy Parker, endlessly adding to your reading list
I saw this book in our new book section at the Derby Library and immediately picked it up. For starters, the title. And then to go with it, that far away look in the woman’s eyes on the cover. It’s that kind of Betty Draper, privileged, overwhelmed, lonely woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown thing. Her life looks perfect from the outside but she probably goes into her giant walk-in closet and screams when no one’s home to hear, kind of thing. I’m into it.
The book contains a collection of short stories centered around domestic life, and Wolitzer captures it so well. It’s a quick read–light and fun but also thought-provoking.
Available for checkout at the Derby Public Library
Activity:Standing over a steaming kettle
It’s winter in Kansas and therefore super dry. Although I have two little humidifiers, I’ve recently taken to putting an analog kettle on the stove and standing over it so the steam rolls over my face. It makes my skin dewy and my hair curl up. The trick is forcing yourself not to run off and check your phone or get distracted by what you could be doing. It feels like this little bit of time I’m taking to do something nice for myself. I put on some music and might pour myself a beverage and just lean into that steam. It’s my version of a spa day.
Podcast: Cover Story: Power Trip by New York Magazine
I binge-listened to all available episodes of this podcast on my way back from visiting family in Lawrence about a week ago. Perhaps, like me, you’ve never stopped to ask yourself whether there might be a dark side to the re-emergent world of psychedelic therapy. Turns out, it isn’t all well-intentioned professionals harnessing the benefits of powerful substances to heal others.
It is a fascinating and at times horrifying glimpse at some of the things happening inside the psychedelic therapy community.
Available wherever you listen to your podcasts
FYI: The experiences told describe the use of psychedelic drugs and instances of sexual abuse.
The Nanny is a reliable old favorite, perfect for relaxing after a day of non-stop social interaction. Fran Drescher is charming in the title role. The stories get convoluted, often, but you watch it for the humor; and who doesn’t love Niles and C. C.?
I have the DVD, but it is now available on HBO Max and Prime Video.
I saw Almost Christmas for the first time. Gabrielle Union, one of my favorite actresses, portrays perfectly the awkward girl-next-door we all know, Mo’Nique shines in anything, and Danny Glover is substantial as the family patriarch. It’s a good family comedy with some high-key dramatic moments.
Available for streaming on Prime Video and for checkout as a DVD through KanShare Libraries.
I recently read Gabrielle Union’s second memoir You got anything stronger?: Stories. She’s intimate and self-aware, sharing her journey in self-development and overcoming adversity as a black actress in Hollywood, as a mother, and as a woman. I believe it will inspire others to share their stories.
Demon Days is Gorillaz’ second album and one of my all-time favorites. When it came out, I was in college, going through early-adulthood growing pains, and it spoke to me. “Feel Good Inc.” was the big single, played a lots of nightclubs, but I also like “Dare”, “Dirty Harry”, and “Demon Days. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. I only recently learned that Damon Albarn from Blur co-created the Gorillaz, with comic book creator Jamie Hewlett, as a satire of the music industry.
Available on iTunes and for checkout as a CD through KanShare Libraries.
Video Game: Sumikko Gurashi
I started playing Sumikko Gurashi™ Gonna Make a Garden because I wanted something to do when I need a break from Pokémon Go. Perfect for Kawaii fans and Farmville nostalgics, it combines crop and product management with set-building, as you gain plots of land, facilities, decorations, and increased productivity as you progress. You can also make friends in-game and send them gifts.
Playing piano is one of my favorite hobbies. I have played on and off for about 7 years. I love playing Disney songs like The Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas. I also enjoy playing classical music and one of my favorites is the Moonlight Sonata. I have performed in several places and was part of my former schools’ piano club, serving as vice president.
The TV show Psych is about 2 best friends who run a psych business. It is a comedy mystery and will make you laugh out loud. I enjoy watching it because it makes me laugh, but also allows for my brain to work by trying to solve the mystery before the actors on screen do.
My favorite movie is The Princess Bride. I have watched this movie over and over again and memorized half the lines and it never gets old. I love the whole movie, but I like some parts more than others. This movie takes us on an adventure of love, mystery, wonder, and action. Westley, the main character, is off on an adventure to save his beloved from an evil prince. Despite it sounding like an all-around Disney fairy tale it is anything but that. It has blood, sabotage, backstabbing and peoples’ worst fears tied up into one amazing and thrilling movie.
My favorite book is The False Prince, written by Jennifer A. Neilson. This book is an action packed, thrill giving, hilarious, and mysterious book. It is about several young boys who are being tested to become a false prince. The story goes into depth on how they were trained and life before being kidnapped and forced to train with other boys who all look somewhat similar to each other. We follow the boy who gets picked to be the false prince and see the struggles he faces. This book is fun for any age and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is stuck on what to read next.
I love listening to country because the tune can get stuck in your head but when you need it to go away it does. A few of my favorite country artists are Gabby Barrett, Luke Combs and George Strait. A few of my favorite songs are, I Cross My Heart by George Strait and One of the Good Ones by Gabby Barrett.
Music CDs by George Strait, Gabby Barrett and Luke Combs available in the KanShare catalog. Digital music by George Strait and Gabby Barrett available through Hoopla.