Monday, February 26, 2018

This Is. . .A Show I Think I Like?

First off, let me get something off my chest. . .

Y'all, I haven't been watching This Is Us this whole time.

I tried. In fact, I tried three times.

I tried when it first came out. I couldn't do it two episodes in.

I tried to binge watch once this summer. I still couldn't do it.

I tried after watching the Super Bowl episode. . .and finally succeeded. We'll come back to this. And yes, you read that right, I started with the Super Bowl episode.

You see, while I haven't been watching I've been aware - very aware of this show. I see the updates each week of what it does to people.

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However, here's my issue. I have off the charts empathy, and movie/TV feelings wreck me more than most. They have my whole life. This started with a trio of movies from my childhood - Bambi (Sidebar: I watched this as an adult, and HOW WAS THIS A CHILDREN'S FILM?!!?), The Fox and the Hound, and All Dogs Go To Heaven. Most recently, I had to stop watching Parenthood because it was impacting my emotions outside of the hour I was spending with the Bravermans. There are host of other examples, but these are the bookends of my overly emotional life.

Anyway, so I tried This Is Us so hard, and I just couldn't. However, I've been reading the summaries/spoilers the whole time. So, I can legit tell you everything that has happened, but I have watched none of it.

When Super Bowl Sunday came around, I decided to the show another go. I figured if this was the worst that it was going to get, and I knew what happened, I should start there. I'm not sure if this rationale works, but whatever. 

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So, then I started over. I watched them all. Feeling after feeling after feeling after feeling. Also, as I found out, there were way more feels aside from the Super Bowl episode. I totally should have seen that coming.

But wait, I have to be honest, y'all. I didn't fully engage.

I was doing other things. I wasn't fully glued to each one because I still just couldn't. Honestly, I'm not sure how people do this every week. Because even though I wasn't 100% locked in, it wrecked me. In fact, I almost quit again. Halfway through season two, it just was a lot to manage. Again, HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?!!? 

However, I pushed through, and I'm caught up now. I'll watch the rest of season two. I won't do it in real-time because I'm still having to read those spoilers/summaries to get through. 

Oh, and maybe I should mention this - I'm pretty sure I dig the show. I don't love all the ugly cries, but you know, it is what it is, I guess? I'm still confused . . .Anyway.

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Oh, and two bonus cast questions/thoughts. . .

1). Does anyone else remember Justin Hartley from Passions? Because I do. He was Fox Crane. Also, I miss that show. I wish NBC would reboot that.

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2). Remember when Mandy Moore made music. Here's my personal favorite jam.

And because there are too many feels up in here, I'll end with this.

"Love Always, Mandy"

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Sweet Sixteen of 2018 Reads.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning was interesting enough. As someone who has read her fair share of books about simplifying, this one was okay. I read something somewhere how this is the "next cleaning craze," and y'all that's not totally true. The premise of the book is talking about how the Swedes have a literal word to explain the process of sharing/getting rid of dead people's stuff, and we shouldn't wait until we're six feet under to undertake this process. The author walks through different spaces explaining the why and how of the process. As a stand-alone book, I'm not sure I would have dug it, but as a part of the collection of books I'd read on the topic, it does. It was another reminder to stay strong on the path of decluttering my life.

Read this book if - You need a little nudge towards that decluttering life. You tend to read the books that are allegedly the "latest and greatest cleaning craze."

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a book I wanted to love. It was such a fun concept, and I've wanted to read this for sometime. For me, this one just didn't connect. There were moments where I chuckled with the integration of zombies, but then it was just straight Austen, and in this read, it wasn't what I was looking to check out. Oh, and true confessions time - I don't often straight skim books, but I did for this one. I just wanted more of the zombie stuff to see how it creatively twisted the plot, and that's no way to read. 

Read this book if - You really like Jane Austen and zombies. If you have a love exclusive to one of these, I'm not sure that you'll dig this one.

How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price was a book that came to me at the exact right time. I'm currently amidst a Lenten detox of my phone/social media, so this was a particularly helpful read for me. The book does a really good job of not going into an accusatory tone, but instead explaining how this happens, encouraging you to reflect on what needs to change, and then giving you a manageable and achievable process to make that happen. I really appreciated that this book centered around the idea of a big question - What are you choosing to pay attention to? Taking the time to explore that question in a number of ways together with action items sets up a book that works. Oh, and thanks to Blogging for Books I received (and loved) this book for free.

Read this book if - You want to have a healthier relationship with your phone, but you just don't know how the heck to do it.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a book recommendation that came to me via a friend which first of all qualifies it for part of my 2018 Reading Challenge. Second of all and more importantly, this book is just an outstanding read. I'm always fascinated by unique characters with a story that has never been told before. Eleanor was one of the best written characters I've read in some time. She was complex and emotional and funny in such a way that I can't even fully describe with my own words. There are also some secrets within Eleanor's story, and they are masterfully hidden. You want to know what is there, but you're also so captivated by her story, you know they'll come when they come. There is another character, Raymond, who helps drive the plot, and he is also wonderfully written. I can definitively say I haven't read a book like this one, and that's okay because I want this book to have its own little niche in my memory.

Read this book if - You love a book with character and heart. You are literally looking for a book to read. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Four More Reads! Four More Reads!

Natural Disaster: I Cover Them, I Am One is Ginger Zee's memoir. I'll be honest that aside from Ginger providing the weather each morning via my morning show of choice (Good Morning America, obvs) and being a contestant on Dancing With the Stars I knew very little about her life outside of the ABC Network. I was pushed to read this when I saw Ginger's interview with Robin where she shared that the book included her mental health struggles. One of these involved here checking into a mental health facility just one week before she started on GMA. This book was emotionally honest and so refreshing. For better or worse, Ginger shared every step of the way that got her to where she is now. I read this cover to cover on a plane ride (To be fair, while I do read fast, I flew Dallas to Portland, so I had some time), and it was just outstanding.

Read this book if - You're a fan of GMA and/or Ginger Zee. You appreciate a memoir that doesn't just cover the happy stuff. 

Letterman was another book I read on my trip. Spoiler Alert: This one is about David Letterman. The Late Show with David Letterman was always my late night show of choice. I used to love the compilation books of Top Ten Lists as a teen, and in my twenties and early thirties, I regularly tuned in. While I spent a lot of time watching Dave, I didn't know a lot about him pre-Late Show. This is a book written by a super fan who does a deep dive into finding out all things Letterman. It was really fascinating to see what Dave could have been, including doing daytime talk and game shows. I always appreciated the unique brand of humor Dave had, and this was a "behind the scenes" look at how that was crafted. Also, it made me miss Letterman, but happy he's got new stuff on Netflix to fill the void.

Read this book if - You are a fan of David Letterman. Otherwise, I'm not sure you'd enjoy this one as I did.

Soar With Your Strengths is the original "source text" for the concept of CliftonStrengths (aka StrengthsQuest). I've been working with Strengths for a lot of my career, and I'd somehow never read this one. The edition I found was even before the assessment was even a thing. I appreciated that this helped me understand where the stuff I've been referencing for years legit came from. It's a little odd that I've waited this long to take it back to where it all began, but also I feel like having all the practical experience was a good full circle reflection. I'm definitely planning on infusing some of this book as I continue to work with Strengths going forward. Also, if you ever want to talk Strengths, HMU.

Read this book if - You have worked with CliftonStrengths and like understanding where it came from. You've taken CliftonStrengths and want to know more about how to put it into action.

Who Do You Love was predictable in the best of ways. When you read Jennifer Weiner, you know what you're going to get, and this was no different. The premise of this one begins with a chance meeting in a hospital of a girl with a congenital heart defect and a boy who's unexpectedly there. From there, they become connected, but at the same time, they can't get their timing just right for THREE DECADES of life. I'm going to go ahead and tell you surprising no one that this has a happy ending. However, despite knowing that was exactly where this was going from the first page, I still devoured this one. I've read a fair amount of JW, and this is one of my favorites.

Read this book if - You are looking to read a rom-com in book form. You are okay with a book where you know exactly how it's going to end, but you'll still read a story to find out about how they get there.

Monday, February 5, 2018

More January Reads

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott was an intriguing thriller. It centers around a tragic death with suspicious circumstances that affects a high-achieving gymnastics training facility. The book focuses on the demands of the gym both on the athletes and the families as they also try to piece together just what the heck when down. I liked this one because I couldn't figure out the twist, and there were some bonus twists built in along the way. I also liked that it was a pageturner because of the mystery, but also because of the environment it was exploring. This one had a been on my wish list for awhile, and I'm glad I was able to finally check it out.

Read this book if - You love a good Lifetime move and wish it came in book form.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan was this month's book club selection. I'll be real that it took me awhile to get into this one. Even about 75% of the way through, I wasn't quite sure if I liked this book. However, with the last 25%, I was totally captivated, and I am eager to find out what happens in the second book. I should also let you know this book is stressful, and I don't do well with rudeness in books, and for much of this book, that's what kept me reading. I needed resolution, and I needed it to get better. I recognize this explanation isn't totally a glowing review, however this one is a unique spin on a rom-com/chick lit that is actually quite good. The story centers on Nicholas who brings home his American-born Chinese girlfriend Rachel, and all the madness ensues. Turns out, Nicholas really didn't tell his gf anything about his family's high profile life in China, and that's kind of important because it's a lot - A lot of personality, money, attitude, etc. etc. From there, well, things just go as you can imagine. . .

Read this book if - You like a good chick lit read with a heaping helping of draaaaama. You want to read a book that will probably be better than the movie version of it that is due to come out this year.

P.S. Since this is a book due to be a movie in 2018, it meets one of my reading challenges! Woohoo!

Only Child was a book that gave me SO. MANY. FEELS. Y'all, this one will easily be one of the most emotional reads of the year. It was an ARC by Rhiannon Navin, so it's just now really getting out into the world, but I expect it'll get some well-deserved big buzz. This book centers on a six year old boy who experiences a school shooting, and the book is told entirely from his perspective. While the book is entirely from his point of view, he describes how the other characters (his family, his teachers, the media, the shooter's family, etc.) react to what has happened. This is particularly poignant given his older brother is one of the victims. Zach's story is both beautiful and tragic, especially in light of how 2018 has begun. It is an emotional read, but I would say the feels are worth it as Zach shares the characters and their stories in such incredibly well-written depth.

Read this book if - You are a fan of well-written literature. You are looking for a book that explores the range of human emotion from hurt to healing and everything in between. You are okay keeping Kleenex handy as you read.

Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker was a book I bought for my husband at some point. I think I heard about it on a podcast? It was also clearly early in our relationship because I had that, "Well even though he doesn't like reading, if I get him the right book, he will." No way I'd try that now. Anyway, we are doing some big decluttering, and I thought maybe I should give it a read since my husband won't ever. Note: That wasn't bitterness. That's just reality. The book is built around the author's baseball card collection. For each card's picture, he anchors a time of his life and/or an analogy for the card involving his life. As I was reading it, I realized something - Books (both fiction and nonfiction) involving dudes coming of age/revisiting their teen years just aren't my jam. I don't know if it's because I can't relate or what. The use of cards in this one was unique and interesting, but overall, this one was just okay. I always feel like a jerk when I critique memoirs, but it is what it is.

Read this book if - You were really into baseball cards during your childhood years and like books. As I said before, my husband only meets one of these criteria, and it didn't so much work.