Friday, September 12

my late summer in entertainment

my late summer in entertainment

books i read

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Memoir) - Since this book is insanely popular (and for good reason), I'm sure you already know that Cheryl Strayed, aka advice columnist Dear Sugar, dropped everything and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  That's what I knew going in, anyway. I'm glad I finally got around to reading this one, because it kind of blew my mind and challenged the way I think about many aspects of life.  Before Cheryl hikes the PCT, she is in a terrible downward spiral following her mother's death.  In said downward spiral, she makes the kind of choices that would usually lead to me putting down a book, but her writing style is so honest, straightforward, and funny even when describing bleak situations, that I had to keep reading - I was rooting for her to turn things around even when I wasn't sure she was capable of doing so.  On little more than a whim, she packs her very heavy bag, puts on some hiking boots that don't really fit, and takes to a trail that will guide her through California, Oregon, and Washington in every climate imaginable.  The idea of doing something like what Cheryl did - hiking alone, as a woman, through unknown territory - absolutely terrifies me. But Cheryl proves that terrifying things can be done, one step at a time.  I can't wait to see Reese Witherspoon play Cheryl in the film version, especially since much of the dialogue in the trailer is straight from the book.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fantasy) - When I heard that a new television series was coming out based on a series of novels about a womanwho travels through time to 1700s Scotland and falls in love, I decided to check it out - I mean, how could you go wrong with a little bit of fantasy, a little historical fiction, and a lot of romance?  Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the detail that the show is on Starz, which we don't get, but fortunately, I did fall head-over-heels in love with the book.  Claire, the main character, is already feeling out of place in 1945 when she and her husband, Frank, are finally reunited after their years of service in the English army - Claire as a combat nurse and Frank as a spy.  She and Frank are on a second honeymoon of sorts in Scotland, and Frank, a history professor, is fascinated by the traditions they observe on their trip, especially the Druid ritual they see the local women participating in around a circle of standing stones.  When they return to the site of the ritual, Claire is transported to Scotland in 1743, where danger is a constant fact of life, feudal society is still in full effect, and her nursing skills come in very handy.  She is taken in by a highland clan, including dashing young Jamie McTavish.  While the love scenes in this book are a little more scandalous than what my YA-loving heart is used to, I can't resist the romance between Claire and Jamie, and it's hard to put the book down when someone is in danger of being murdered in basically every other chapter.  

Everneath by Brodi Ashton (YA Fantasy Romance) - I checked Everneath out of the school library because one of  my students said it was the best book she'd ever read.  The book reminded me pleasantly of other YA folkloric retellings I've enjoyed, like Carrie Jones' Need and Nancy Werlin's Impossible.  Everneath puts a modern, high school spin on the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades.  At the beginning of the novel, Nikki has just returned to her regular life after being, by all accounts, missing for six months.  Through flashbacks, we learn that reeling from her mother's death in a car accident and believing her boyfriend, Jack, has been unfaithful, Nikki had happily accepted her rock star friend Cole's offer to take away her pain - by taking her to the underworld, where he would feed off her energy for what felt like a century.  Nikki's return is anything but smooth, and she has only six months to smooth over the relationships with Jack, her best friend, and her distant father before she must return to Cole and the Everneath - unless she can find a way to remain on the Surface.  There were definitely some plot holes - her father, the mayor of the Utah town in which the book takes place, seemed to accept not knowing where his daughter had been for six months - but overall I enjoyed reading this new twist on a familiar myth.

movies i saw

Guardians of the Galaxy - As much of a geek as I can be, and as much as this movie was promoted, I still didn't really know what to expect going into the theater.  While I was basically familiar with characters like Iron-Man and Thor going into the previous Marvel movies, I really didn't understand how there could even be a successful series including (what look like) a raccoon and a tree as major characters.  However, from pretty much the first strains of 80's music, I was along for the ride.  My love of Chris Pratt is no secret, and he brings a lot of heart to one of my favorite storytelling tropes - a ragtag bunch of misfits saving the world.  Zoe Saldana is awesome as always, Dave Bautista is surprisingly funny as a warrior who takes everything literally, and the "raccoon" and "tree" ended up being my favorites after all.  There's so much quirky goodness in this movie.

The Croods - When I am home alone, I like to watch cartoon movies.  I don't know why, it's just my thing.  I remembered the previews for this one looking cute when it was in theaters, and Emma Stone voicing a cavegirl is kind of an irresistible premise.  What I did not expect was that a movie about a family of cave people escaping from catastrophic natural disasters would make me ugly cry.  The overprotectice cave dad/rebellious and independent cave daughter dynamic really got me in the feels.

television favorites

You're the Worst - A show on FX that has at least three different kinds of warnings on it is not my usual fare, but I guess I've really been mixing it up lately and I gave this comedy a chance this summer.  The show begins when Jimmy, a sarcastic and oblivious writer, and Gretchen, a public relations agent with self-destructive tendencies, meet at the wedding of Jimmy's ex - he's basically there to heckle the bride and Gretchen is stealing gifts.  Their "what could it hurt?" one-night stand gets complicated as they realize that they actually kinda like each other, at least better than anyone else.  The subsequent episodes have been less raunchy and way funnier than the pilot and the show has a weird sweetness that has really grown on me.

What's been keeping you entertained lately?  Do 
you have any recommendations for me to check out?

Linking Up:
The Grits Blog - Little Friday Linkup

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