7.07.2019

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior DoctorThis is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book contains the journal entries of a British junior doctor's six-year career in England. It was interesting to read his perspective on England's National Health Service as compared to the American system. Adam Kay worked as an OB/GYN and his writings about all that happens (or could happen) during childbirth confirmed for me that my decision to not have kids was the right one (for me). This book also confirmed that I could never, ever, be doctor. The book is at turns funny, heartbreaking, educational, and cringe-inducing, and I enjoyed it.

View all my reviews

5.03.2019

Dammit. I love this.

Beyoncé dropped a new album the other day, Homecoming.  It's a live album and I just heard her cover of Frankie Beverly and Maze's "Before I Let Go."  (This is a song that my sister and I dubbed  the Black People's Anthem.  It's always played when black people get together.  I saw many comments on YouTube saying this is cookout approved.)  I'm really annoyed at how much I love her version.  Not only is she doing Maze's song, it's also got Cameo's "Candy" mixed in and it's so fun to dance to.

Here's the thing.  I'm not a big Beyoncé fan.  But every once in a while, she comes out with something that I can't stop listening to.  My prior fave of hers was "Love On Top. " I've never tired of that song--it makes me happy.

Anyway, she's done it again.  This makes me happy too!




I'll go ahead and throw in Love on Top too, for good measure:

4.13.2019

New-to-me music, featuring Sister

I was listening to Dax Shepherd's podcast, Armchair Expert, and before the interview got started, he played a song by Sister called, "Love Me Right."  I came home and went searching for it, and Sister has a new fan.  I love this song. 

Here it is:



I also came across this video and I swooned.  I love To Sir, with Love (song and movie).  (I think I've mentioned it before.  Oh yes!  Here it is.)  And she does such a beautiful job with it.  What a clear, beautiful voice.



I've now followed her channel on YouTube and can't wait to hear more.

3.23.2019

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Shrill: Notes from a Loud WomanShrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. I read this in anticipation of the Hulu series inspired by it. There are some essays I'd give 5 stars to, and other I didn't like as much, so for me it averaged out to 3.5 stars. She's a great writer and offers many thought-provoking points of view on various topics. The chapters about her exchange with Dan Savage and then her experience with stand-up comedy were most interesting (and troubling and infuriating). I had to admire how she persevered through it all.

I just finished the Hulu series, which I really enjoyed.  There were only six episodes.  The last episode about the troll that she talked to in person was better handled in the book, but it still drove home a point.

View all my reviews

3.21.2019

RENT Live! (Catching Up)

RENT Live! aired on FOX on January 27.  I think we were out that night seeing our favorite local band, so I recorded it and told my sister we could get together and watch it later.  We finally did that this weekend, along with two other friends.  This review a little late to the game, but here we are.

As it turns out, Brennin Hunt, the guy playing Roger, broke his ankle during the dress rehearsal.  As a result, most of the RENT Live! was actually a pre-recorded version of the dress rehearsal.  That was unfortunate.  They did the final scene live, and they included the original Broadway cast members, so that was exciting.  Everyone looked and sounded great.  Poor Brennin.  During that last scene, he sat on the table with his foot in a huge cast and propped on a chair, but he still sang the heck out of Your Eyes.  Way to persevere!

Overall, I thought the casting of Brennin as Roger and Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen was perfect.  The other cast members were good too, but these two stood out for me.  Both of them did so well in their roles.  Brennin is quite easy on the eyes and his voice was great.  (Incidentally, I just looked him up on IMDb, and he was a contestant on The Voice.)

There was some pitchy-ness in some of the songs, and some of the supporting cast members were off in pivotal songs like Will I? and Seasons of Love.  I had to keep in mind that this was a dress rehearsal and perhaps if they had really done it live, they would have been pitch perfect.

I noticed early on that some lyrics were changed, mostly due to cursing, so I figured that they'd probably change a lot in La Vie Boheme, and I wondered if they'd do the sex song (Contact).  In La Vie Boheme, Maureen did not moon the businessmen and they changed "dildos," but left in everything else including, "mucho masturbation," "to sodomy," "to marijuana!" and, "to S&M!" --that surprised me!  And they did do Contact, but it was condensed and didn't have all of the sexually suggestive choreography that the stage show has.

I've lost count of how many times we've seen RENT (maybe 20?!), but I'll add this one to the list.  Overall, I thought it was enjoyable.  I was glad to hear the music again, and I've been listening to the original soundtrack all week.  As we were watching the show, I told my friends that I was having a hard time controlling myself and not singing all the songs to them.  Now I sing away!

3.10.2019

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent PatientThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read part of this on my Kindle, but listened to most of it on Audible. I enjoyed both formats. The story is told alternately between a psychotherapist, Theo, and his (silent) patient's diary, so his parts are read by a man, and the diary is read by a woman. The writing is great and I don't want to say much more for fear of giving anything away. I look forward to more from this author.

*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***

Debbie, if there's any chance you're going to read this book, stop reading now.



Stop.  Stop now, I tell you!



Okay, you've been warned.

Here I go....

I'm glad I didn't read any reviews of this book before I picked it up.  As I read the reviews after the fact, people say things about the "big twist" and the "twists and turns" in the book.  Reading that kind of review, even if it doesn't tell me what the twist is, builds anticipation, so I'm just waiting for "the thing" to happen, and when it does, I'm often disappointed. 

Even though this is called a "psychological thriller," it's really not that.  I was glad to hear an interview with the author at the end of the audiobook where he says other people put that term on the book.  He was surprised by the word "thriller."  He thinks of it as a slow, suspenseful story.  The lady doing the interview points out that there's a real richness to the characters and their lives.  I agree with that.  It's not so much a thriller--there are no jump-out-of-your-seat moments, that I usually associate with thrillers.  Instead, it's more clever and I found myself grinning when all was revealed.  The author said he had Alfred Hitchcock in mind as he was writing it, and I can see that. 

And now a word about potential spoilers.  As you see, I didn't really give away any plot points here.  However,  I've written before about inadvertently spoiling something for my sister, hence my warning to her above. 

View all my reviews

3.03.2019

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane, #1)Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I've had this book on my shelf for at least 10 years but had never read it. This year, I kept seeing Kristin Hannah's name all over the place, because of The Great Alone, and I decided before I delve into that, I should read her book that I already own.

I started off liking Firefly Lane a lot. The story of two girls meeting in 1974 at the age of 14 and becoming best friends resonated with me and reminded me of some of my own childhood friendships. Then through 30 years of their friendship, it just started to drag and become unbelievable and clichéd. I disliked both of the main characters at different points for different reasons and it was difficult to believe they'd still be friends over all those years.

I can definitely understand the comparisons to Beaches, which I enjoyed a whole lot more. (However, I also read that 30 years ago, in my late teens, so maybe I'd feel differently reading it now.)

Nit-picky minor detail: If the girls met at the age of 14 in 1974, then presumably, it'd be approximately 1978 when they graduate high school and then 1982 when they graduate college. There's a scene right before their college graduation where they were listening to the Purple Rain soundtrack. That album didn't come out until 1984. As soon as I read that I was annoyed. And the annoying feeling, unfortunately, never went away as I read the book.

Despite all that, I finished the whole thing and even shed a few tears toward the end. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but I liked it well enough and it didn't turn me off Kristin Hannah forever.

View all my reviews

For what it's worth, I enjoyed the "soundtrack" of the book--the author makes notes of the songs they're listening to and I created a playlist that's fun to listen to.  Here's the playlist.







2.24.2019

2019 Oscar Predictions (and Wins)

The Oscars will be on shortly and I just finished watching "Roma," the final Best Picture nominee that I needed to see.

Here are my predictions for who I WANT to win, and who I think WILL win.  Movies I haven't seen yet are in italics.  

UPDATE:  I've added who won in RED.

BEST PICTURE
  • BlacKkKlansman WANT
  • Black Panther WILL
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book WON
  • Roma  
  • A Star Is Born
  • Vice
There's been a lot of talk about Oscars not awarding blockbuster movies, which is why I think Black Panther could win this.  Each year it seems Oscar voters try to address all the criticism they receive from previous years. This list of nominees is evident of that.  A couple years ago, the biggest hashtag on Oscar night was #OscarSoWhite.  Now look at all the diverse nominees this year.  Hopefully that's not just a temporary correction.  I personally liked BlacKkKlansman the best of these nominees and am hoping for it to win.

BEST DIRECTOR
  • Alfonso Cuaron for Roma WON
  • Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman WANT / WILL
  • Adam McKay for Vice
  • Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War
  • Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite
This category is fully of great nominees this year.  Roma and The Favourite were intriguing to watch, but I think the award they're more deserving of is the award for best cinematography. (Roma did win Best Cinematography)

Spike is due for an Oscar and I think it's well deserved for BlacKkKlansman.  I think the Academy could give him the award this year and give themselves a pat on the back for honoring not only this movie, but also his whole body of work.

BEST ACTRESS
  • Yalitza Aparicio in Roma
  • Glenn Close in The Wife WANT / WILL
  • Olivia Colman in The Favourite WON
  • Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born
  • Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
I love actors who can convey so much meaning with just their facial expressions.  I saw The Wife the other day and Glenn Close does this in spades.  She's very deserving of this award.  I just can't predict whether she'll win or not, but I went ahead with the prediction that she will win.  It could go any way.  All of the performances are great--I didn't see Melissa McCarthy, but I'm sure her nomination is deserved--she's so talented.

BEST ACTOR
  • Christian Bale in Vice WANT
  • Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born
  • Willem Dafoe in At Eternity's Gate
  • Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody WILL / WON
  • Viggo Mortensen in Green Book
Christian Bale just disappears into Dick Cheney and I think this would be a deserved win.  Rami Malek was great too as Freddie Mercury and I wouldn't be upset by his winning.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Mahershala Ali in Green Book WANT / WILL / WON
  • Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman
  • Sam Elliott in A Star Is Born
  • Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Sam Rockwell in Vice
Mahershala is just so great at what he does.  I would be really happy to see Adam Driver get this too.
Sam Rockwell was great as Dubya in Vice, but his role didn't provide much oomph to the movie.  Same for Sam Elliott in A Star is Born.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Amy Adams in Vice
  • Marina de Tavira in Roma
  • Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk WANT / WILL / WON
  • Emma Stone in The Favourite
  • Rachel Weisz in The Favourite
Emma and Rachel were great in The Favourite and might cancel each other out in votes.  Despite that, I have to go with Regina King.  She was so good in Beale Street, and again, does so much acting with her eyes and facial expressions.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • BlacKkKlansman WANT / WON
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • A Star Is Born WILL
I'm behind BlacKkKlansman all the way, but I wouldn't be mad if A Star Is Born won.  I liked it better than the Barbra Streisand version.  A win here would keep it from being shut out of the Oscars.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  • The Favourite
  • First Reformed
  • Green Book WILL / WANT / WON
  • Roma
  • Vice 
I'm torn on this category.  I think Vice was quite clever, but I liked Green Book better, and would like to see it win.  I think it could.

So that's it.  I'll come back tomorrow with who did win.  I'm looking forward to Queen and Adam Lambert opening up the Oscars tonight.  Should be a good show considering the musical numbers.  Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will be singing too.  Will we miss there being a host?  I suspect not, but we'll see!

UPDATE/Comments on the Show:

Who needs a host when the show opens with Queen and Adam Lambert?!  That was fun to see everyone in their red carpet gowns just rocking out.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's performance:  ooh la la!

As my sister said, we need more Spike Lee at awards shows...she pointed out that he's so entertaining!

My biggest disappointment was Glenn Close not getting her Oscar.  Olivia Colman was great in The Favourite, but I was really, really pulling for Glenn Close.  Olivia gave a great speech though!

I'm surprised Green Book won Best Picture.  Based on what I'm seeing on Twitter, there's a lot of disappointment.  Well, people are pissed, actually.  I'm not disappointed, I enjoyed the movie.  Just surprised.

I did a decent job with my predictions this year.

Overall, it was a good show.  I didn't miss a host.  It didn't run on too, too long.  And now I have some more movies to see.

2.09.2019

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death RowThe Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the true story of Anthony Ray Hinton, an innocent man who spent 30 years on death row. It's so difficult and frustrating to read about how the system was stacked against Ray, and so astounding to read about Ray's perseverance and positive attitude. It should be required reading for every single person.

View all my reviews

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

The Gilded HourThe Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd give this 3.75 stars.

The author pays a lot of attention to detail so I always had a very clear vision of the characters, scenery, clothing, and atmosphere. The book is very long and I felt some parts perhaps had too much detail. There's a little bit of everything here: female doctors (in the 1800s), one of them half black, racism, misogyny, contraception and men controlling women's reproductive rights, humor, sadness, religion, conservative folks and progressive folks, orphaned children, the police, and oh, a serial killer. It was a lot. I was very disappointed that some storylines weren't resolved over the nearly 800 pages, but I am now indeed curious about the coming sequel.

View all my reviews