A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adored this story about Ove, a grumpy man, and the people that invaded his life. It's so charming and funny and sweet. I laughed out loud many times, and also had a few tears. There's such beautiful and thoughtful language:

One of the most painful moments in a person's life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. Memories perhaps. Afternoons in the sun with someone's hand clutched in one's own. The fragrance of flowerbeds in fresh bloom. Sundays in a café. Grandchildren perhaps. One finds a way of living for the sake of someone else's future.

This was my favorite quote:

People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.

I simply loved this book.

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book made me laugh. A lot. I went back and forth between reading the book on my Kindle, and listening to the Audible version. One day, I'll have to go back and listen to the whole thing because as read--almost acted--by Martin Jarvis, it's even funnier.  The story is about end of the world.  Because the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale have come to enjoy life on earth as it is, they decide to try to stop it.  I really enjoyed the friendship between Crowley and Aziraphale, and Crowley was my favorite character, actually. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because I was a bit disappointed with the ending. Still, I enjoyed every bit along the way.

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Almost Interesting by David Spade

Almost InterestingAlmost Interesting by David Spade

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

I've never been huge fan of David Spade's. I liked him on SNL well enough, but I haven't seen many of his movies, and didn't know much about him. At the recommendation of a good friend, I went ahead and listened to his audiobook, which he narrates. It's pretty crude and raunchy at parts, but through his story, his self deprecation, and the way that he chuckles at what he's reading, he endeared himself to me. I really enjoyed the chapters about SNL and movie making. I had never seen Tommy Boy, but after listening to that chapter, I watched it on Netflix, and was pleasantly surprised by what a sweet movie it actually is. I had no idea. The audio book with David's narration is quite funny and I'm glad I listened.

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Jennifer's Way: My Jouney with Celiac Disease.... by Jennifer Esposito

Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live AgainJennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again by Jennifer Esposito

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was diagnosed with celiac disease in October 2015 and found it interesting to read about someone else's diagnosis and recovery. My symptoms are different than Jennifer's and thankfully, I haven't (yet) come across any doctors, employers, friends, or family who questioned me or treated me poorly when I'm not feeling well. I thought the book could use some editing--there was a lot of repetition, so I did find myself skimming quite a bit. Still, it was interesting to read another perspective. I also think it would be a good read for non-celiacs so they can get a better understanding of the disease and learn the differences between this auto-immune disease versus a fad diet. Those points really resonated with me.

I do look forward to trying some of the recipes at the end of the book.

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Not my thing, but...

The other day, four separate friends were posting on Facebook that they were at the Cure concert.  They were reminiscing about the old days and saying the band sounded as good as ever.  I started thinking...do I even know any songs by the Cure??  When I was in high school, there was an alternative rock radio station that I only listened to occasionally.  I know they played The Cure, and Depeche Mode, and, and and....  Stuff I never got into.  It just wasn't my scene.  (Though, I know they played the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I somehow got into them in college.)

ANYWAY.  I went to iTunes and pulled up The Cure's Greatest Hits album.  Out of 18 songs, I recognized two:  "Just Like Heaven" and "Friday I'm in Love."  And that was it.  And the only reason I recognized those two songs is because they were in movies I enjoyed.  (Of course, I can't remember what movies those were.) 

I started thinking about how I have pretty diverse musical tastes, but there are still things I don't care for.  Like The Cure, I realize now.  And as I've mentioned plenty of times, I'm not a real fan of country music.

HOWEVER.  There are exceptions.  There's an album my dad had called "Rhythm Country & Blues" which was a collaboration of country singers and R&B or Blues singers.  I love that album.  (I'll have to write another post about this at another time--someone remind me about "Patches.")  I love the Zac Brown Band's "Free."  I have Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" on my iPod.  I eventually got the Rhythm Country & Blues album for myself.  I even downloaded a few songs from the TV show, Nashville.  So, every once in  while, a country song will slip through.

This morning I texted my dad and sister to announce that another country song is being added to my country collection.  Steven Tyler was on the Today Show this morning.  He has a new country album coming out and he debuted the title song, "We're All Somebody from Somewhere."

Well.  I LOVED that song!  I rewound and watched the performance about five times this morning.  Here's the kicker for me:  It's a FUNKY country song with a horn section and everything.  I can get down with that.  I just loved it.  I'll definitely be adding it to my iPod and I'm actually looking forward to hearing what else Steven has to offer in the country genre.

Actually, that bass line that starts at about the one-minute mark reminds me of one of the Chili Peppers songs.  Can you hear it?


Man. Season 4, Orange is the New Black (SPOILERS!!)

Warning--this post has SPOILERS!!!!!

I watched Season 4 of Orange is the New Black this weekend, and as someone said on Twitter, it was both deeply disturbing but also the best season yet.  I agree whole-heartedly.

Around episode 11, I texted my friend Alicia saying, "I've never been so infuriated with the show.  Not because there's anything wrong with it at all, but because of the plot lines."  After I confirmed that she was watching, I wrote, "These new guards are KILLING ME!  So much abuse and the ladies taking all that abuse are not able to say anything.  I want to smack Caputo in the head.  I had this same feeling when I read the book."  Alicia wrote back:  "Watching this is so uncomfortable.  The abuse of power is especially terrifying, since it's probably pretty realistic."

At the end of last season, the old corrections officers walked off the job.  This season they were replaced with militarized guards who had serious issues with abuse of power.  Abuse of power was a big theme in the book as well, and it's infuriating to read, because the inmates are people too, and I think that thought gets lost in the correctional system.

When I was watching the final episode, I was literally on the edge of my seat, screaming at the TV and covering my mouth with my hands in anticipation.  It was INTENSE.  Alicia wrote: "I just finished this season" with what I would call an "OMG" emoji.  I wrote back and said, "Me too!  Just now!  Holy fuck! (Pardon my French!)"  I later said, "Oh my god.  My heart is still pounding.  I'm all cried out from Poussey's death.  All the feelings!  Oh my god."

Alicia said the season did a good job of showing that there are good people and bad people.  On both sides--the guards and the prisoners.  I told her, "Wow.  What writing.  So many of those ladies deserve acting awards.  Alex contemplating what she did.  Taystee when Poussey died.  Pennsatucky.  Piper during the branding.  Holy shit. There was so much."

Then I added, "My head hurts from crying.  I was seriously sobbing when Poussey died.  I don't usually react to TV like that.  Goodness."

Alicia said, "Goodness.  I can't even process how emotion this season was."  I said, "I know!  Oh my god!  When Diaz picked up that gun, I was screaming in my house.  By myself.  Nooooooooo!!!!   Oh man."

So there you have it.  My reaction to Season 4.  I cannot wait until Season 5.  What did Diaz do?!?!?!

UPDATE (6/21/16) - I opened up a Vanity Fair article and just this photo of Taystee and her grief made me tear up.  The photo alone should garner Danielle Brooks an Emmy award.


Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - SPOILERS!!

Luckiest Girl AliveLuckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Mixed feelings about this one. The first half was better than the second. The parts written about what happened to TifAni was difficult and painful to read. The part about the school shooting was also tough to read, not just because it was a school shooting, but also because I didn't see it coming, and read it just days after the horrendous Orlando shooting at Pulse. After that took place, the last third of the book dragged along and I found myself skimming quite a bit.

I was prepared to give the book 2 stars because I didn't enjoy it that much, but then I learned that the author herself was a victim of rape (http://www.elle.com/life-love/a35202/...). I then understood why that section was so painful to read--it was because she was writing from a horrible, personal experience. I bumped my rating to 3 stars because I have to respect that she was able to write that down. I hope it was cathartic for her.

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I hate feeling disappointed.

When I first turned on the TV this evening, I saw that a hockey game was starting on NBC.  I immediately said out loud, "Jesus.  Is hockey still on?"  It's got to be the sport with the longest season, ever.  It seems that an ice sport shouldn't still be on in the final days of May.

Anyway, I checked the guide and saw that So You Think You Can Dance was on.  I felt excited, changed the channel, and then was reminded that this season is for the "next generation," meaning, 8- to 13-year-olds.  Eh.  That was a bummer.  I didn't realize the whole season was kids...I thought they were just a part of the show.  I'm not taking away from these kids' talent at all, but I'm not really interested in a full season of young kids.  I'll give it a try, but definitely feel disappointed in the new format.



Feeling old with the Billboard Music Awards

I recorded the awards so I could see Madonna's tribute to Prince.  I saw that it was panned pretty badly in the reviews the next day.  But, I wanted to see it anyway.  I also like what Questlove had to say:  
So I know there is gonna be A LOT of ‘feel a certain ways’ about who you want to see do his music justice – but you gotta put that aside y’all....Every Prince rendition will not be a life changing orgasmic [experience]. Just to SING his work is brave enough. Again feeling are on high, and EVERYBODY wants and deserves a chance to say goodbye in their own way. But remember: there will be AMAs, SoulTrain, NAACP, mtv, GRAMMYS, and a gazillion other tributes. But the point is let’s not get ugly with playing the ‘Prince would and wouldn’t approve’ game.

I admit, I wasn't thrilled at first to hear Madonna was doing the tribute, but the more I thought about it, why shouldn't she?  She, Michael Jackson and Prince were all born in the same year.  Prince was a friend of hers. She's from his era.  She knows his music.  It makes more sense than some up and comer doing a tribute, who wasn't even born when Purple Rain came out.


Okay, I'm done.

I've been mulling this post over in my head for quite some time now, and today I'm finally ready to put the words down.

Let me start by saying that my favorite night of television is Wednesdays on ABC.  I love The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, and black•ish.  Especially the first two shows.  It seems like each week, when those shows end, I say--out loud--"Oh!  I love this show so much!"  A couple of weeks ago, The Goldbergs had a "behind-the-scenes" episode and they mentioned how the first two acts are funny and then the third act will have a tender moment that gets you emotional.  It's a formula, but it works for me.  The Middle follows this same pattern, so really, when I'm saying, "Oh! I love this show so much!' there are usually tears in my eyes as I say it.

There are other great shows on that I just love every time I watch them--these currently include Veep, The Good Wife (which, sadly just ended), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Grinder.

Watching TV consumes my time, and I know I watch WAY too much TV.  And lately, I've been taking note of the fact that there are plenty of shows I watch out of habit or loyalty, that I really don't enjoy that much.  I don't end each show saying, "Wow! That was great."  And often, I'm moaning and groaning about what's going on.  These shows build up on the Tivo, which is a sign to me that I'm not all that anxious to watch.  The shows I love, I watch immediately.

With all this in mind, I'm starting to eliminate shows that I'm just not enjoying that much.  I already deleted Gotham. I think after Jada Pinkett left, it just wasn't as interesting.  When it was gone for winter break, I didn't miss it, and when I saw that it was on again, I let 2-3 episodes build up on the Tivo and I realized, you know what?  I really don't need to watch that, and I deleted the season pass.  The same exact thing happened with Empire.  I really enjoyed the first season, but then it just started to get too soap-opera-y, and I realized I was no longer interested.

Things came to a head today (and this is what prompted this post) when I was watching this week's episode of The Blacklist.  It was on for about 20 minutes, and I realized, I couldn't care less about what was happening.  It was dull and I miss Red and Liz's interactions.  I'm not convinced that she's really dead, but I'm not going to spend one more moment waiting to find out.  I stopped the show, and said, "That's it.  I'm done."  Deleted.

I've got some other shows that need to up their game, or they're going to be dropped too.  Nashville comes to mind.  Oh god--the drama is so bad and repetitive, and again, too much soap opera stuff.  Then there's Gray's Anatomy, although this week got interesting, so we'll see what happens.  I'm going to drop Madame Secretary now that The Good Wife is gone.  I really only watched it because it came on between 60 Minutes and The Good Wife.  

Meanwhile, this summer I'm looking forward to So You Think You Can Dance, though I'm not sure about the twist with young kids.  We'll see.

Speaking of young kids--Little Big Shots has been a joy to watch.  It's a nice way to end the weekend and head off the Monday blues. (Even though I don't really suffer from Monday blues anymore now that I'm in a new job I like, but still.)

It feels good to clear this clutter off of my Tivo.   It's freeing up time so I can work on the clutter in the rest of the house!

UPDATE:  Just saw that I'm not the only one ready to drop Nashville.  ABC is dropping them too--now I don't have to make that decision.  I'll go ahead and finish out the last three episodes and then it'll be done.

UPDATE 2 (5/16/16):  Now I just heard that Jada Pinkett is coming back to Gotham tonight.  Sorry Gotham.  You're too late.  I won't be back.

UPDATE 3 (5/24/16):  AND, I was right about Blacklist!  I'm still not going to keep watching though.  Too little, too late! Oh and The Grinder was cancelled.  That one upsets me.