Tuesday, May 31, 2016

seriously romantic: marrying winterborne by lisa kleypas

i'm not kidding when i tell you that i've read the opening chapter of this book 50 times. i've been dying to read this book since i finished cold-hearted rake. i liked the first book in the ravenel series just fine, but the characters of rhys and helen hooked me then. so i was thrilled to get a hold of marrying winterborne today.

as soon as i had it in my hands i read the first chapter for the 51st time and then kept on reading until i was done. and oh, i just loved this book. helen and rhys are made for each other. i loved the contrast between the self-assured, independent welshman and the gentle, strong lady. they are two people who you wouldn't think could have any way of understanding each other. except they both ache for exactly what the other has to give. reading this book you could just feel the pull between these two characters. it was there in cold-hearted rake, but the magnetic attraction between helen and rhys intensifies in marrying winterborne. i can't say this enough, but i just love helen and rhys, i loved every second of their story. i am happy to spend as much time with them as i can. this is another one that is going on the re-read pile. i may re-read it again now.

lisa kleypas has written some of my favorite romance novels.  i'm not sure how many books are intended to be written for the ravenels, but hopefully beyond twins, pandora and cassandra, we'll also get west's story and tom severin's, and maybe ransom and garrett's as well. kleypas is good at developing secondary characters that you want to know more of. and seeing more of this world can't be a bad thing. the next book in the series is devil in spring, which is awesomely related to devil in winter as it is about sebastian and evie's son and pandora. and since devil in winter happens to be one of my favorite romance novels ever i can't tell you how excited i am for the next book in the series.

what a problem it is to have to wait!

Monday, May 30, 2016

simply enjoying the cold war

one of my favorite shows to binge watch is the americans. i probably would have watched it regardless of the plot because i love keri russell so much. one of my all time favorite shows is felicity [#teamben] and besides all the angsty love triangles, it was because felicity was experiencing college the same time i was. and even though there are many, many differences in our college experiences, there is something to be said for a television show that captures a seminal time period of your life. i will always associate felicity with my college years, and that love extends to pretty much anyone who took part in that show, but especially keri.

when i first heard about the americans i was so excited for it. not only was felicity in it, but it was a show about the cold war and the leads were russian spies masquerading as american citizens. this was basically the made up game i played my entire childhood. [i am obviously a child of the 80s. i grew up during the cold war. which is such a weird era, because it was all about the threat of war without any actual war happening. and all we knew was that there was always the danger of being spied on by the russians and an atomic bomb could destroy the world. pretty dark, right?]

anyway. because we are at war with time warner cable we do not get fx. so i have to wait until the most recent season has started to watch the show on amazon prime. i suppose i could pay more to watch it, but i don't really mind the wait, it just means i'm a season behind everyone else in the world. i think that this also turns out to be a good thing, because i can just binge-watch the episodes. not having to wait a week to watch the next show. i think the ability to binge-watch makes the television viewing experience better than before. but i'm an instant gratification kind of girl. i hate to deny myself things, i don't see the point of that. so binge-watching the americans is totally the way to go.

one of my favorite things about this show is that it's not just this intense spy drama, it's also the story of a marriage. and the way elizabeth/nadezhda and philip/mischa interact, the push and pull between them, it's fascinating to watch. these are two people who are so dedicated to their country that they have created a family all to further the cause, and they can't question their cause, because then they'd have to question everything they've done in its name. and it's all so complicated. it's not just about patriotism, it's about marriage and family, it's about love. and keri russell and matthew rhys play all these layers so beautifully.

and i'll be honest, i kind of love that they fell in love while portraying these characters. and now they just had a kid and it's totally the best. those two people definitely needed to procreate. they are beautiful and the chemistry they share is just amazing.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

seriously romantic: wicked intentions by elizabeth hoyt

wicked intentions is the first book in elizabeth hoyt's maiden lane series. as of now there are 9 novels, with the 10th (duke of sin) publishing on tuesday, may 31st. i had read her previous series, the legend of the four soldiers, and liked the books a lot. so i'm not sure why i didn't read wicked intentions until now. i remember reading the excerpt, but i'm 85% positive i hadn't read the whole book. amazon reassures me that it has no record of me buying the book previously and i did go through a phase where i needed a break from historical romances, which probably explains why i hadn't picked up this series until now.

anyway, netgalley offered this book as a "read now" option, likely to drum up interest in the latest release. and guess what, the marketing worked! now i want to read the rest of the series, including the latest novel. wicked intentions takes place in the 18th century england, in the st. giles area of london, which during that time period was one of the poorest sectors of london and was riddled with crime and depravity. because this novel is the first of a series, a lot of time is spent not only establishing the area of st. giles known as maiden lane, but also a lot of groundwork is laid in getting to know secondary characters that will no doubt end up with starring roles in later novels. for the most part this is done somewhat organically, but the time spent establishing certain events that befall other characters takes away time from our two leads. both of whom have somewhat tortured backstories.

i do wonder if some of lord caire's back story was left out after editing? there are hints that he suffered some severe abuse, but the worst that is revealed is that he suffered extreme neglect. There is a hint that perhaps one of his early caregivers abused him, but it's never overtly stated in the manuscript and so remains a mystery even by the end of the novel. but wanting to know more about your characters isn't the worst thing in the world. it's certainly something that will keep me coming back for more in this series. temperance and lazarus are well matched, even up to their ridiculous names.

**i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/forever/grand central publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

seriously romantic: how not to fall by emily foster

i read how not to fall in one sitting it feels like, it was a quick, enjoyable read with lots and lots of sex. i'm putting that out there first, because if you don't like books with explicit and lots and lots of sex, then this is probably not the book for you. i am also going to advance warn you that this book is part 1 of a duology. so it totally ends on a cliffhanger and since i did not know that in advance i was a little bit frustrated and a little bit like "oh my god, how long do i have to wait for book 2?!" [the answer to that is not terribly long, just 7 months since it appears to be scheduled to publish in december 2016.]

this might seem weird, but i also researched the author a little bit after i read the book. the characters are super science nerds and what i learned about the author is that she has a phd and her area of study is human sexuality. and this all made so much sense to me. her background really does inform the book. i work in an academic setting and she described working in an academic research lab perfectly, which happens to be something that so rarely happens that i knew she had to have a background in what she was writing.

the other cool thing i learned is that part of her impetus for writing this book is that she read the 50 shades of grey books and was so frustrated and horrified by them that she felt obligated to write a sex-positive, feminist romance about characters in similar circumstances to anastasia and christian. full disclosure: i haven't ever read the shades of grey trilogy, i read an excerpt once and was horrified by how bad the writing was that i didn't even try to read the allegedly sexy parts. one thing i appreciate about those novels though is that they did seem to bring out into the open that reading erotica is normal thing to do.

and one thing that i liked about how not to fall is how the characters talk about and describe sex. one thing about romance novels is that they tend to use flowery prose to describe genitals and i always appreciate the novels that name body parts using their actual names. using the word penis or vagina shouldn't be unsexy. it should be normal, they happen to be generally the organs involved in sex. at least they are generally the main players, right. other things get involved but the penis and vagina get to be the stars of the show.

anyway, so like i said there is a lot of sex in this book. annabelle and charles are the ones having it. and they are hot together. annabelle is a super smart senior at indiana university who is moving to boston to get her md-phd at harvard. so she's brilliant. charles is a postdoc at the lab where annabelle works/studies at. she's in love-lust with him and propositions him during her last semester, but charles is an honorable guy and won't touch her until she's graduated. no matter how much he wants to. [an aside i just noticed that the character names begin with an/ch just like the ones from the e.l. james book, an homage perhaps? an acknowledgement that these novels may have sprung from the shades of grey books even though they are 100% better--at least as far as the writing goes.]

charles is a guy who likes to be in control. this isn't a bdsm novel, but the characters do fall into some sort of D/s roles. i actually read an interview with the author who describes charles as a service top, which is probably the best way to describe him. he likes to hold his pleasure back until annabelle has taken and received all the pleasure she possibly can. it's an interesting dynamic to read about. a lot of the science and psychology behind the story and the characters are really interesting. how not to fall is told entirely from annabelle's perspective, so at times charles can be frustrating as a character because we can't see his inner thoughts the way we do annabelle's. from the excerpt from how not to let go [book 2 of the series] i noticed that we did finally get a chapter from charles' pov and that will be an interesting addition to the story for book 2.

there is more than just sex here too. there's science and a story, and all of it is really good. i liked the characters, i was rooting for them, and given the way the story ended, i want more of them!

**how not to fall is scheduled to publish on june 28, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books. i received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, May 27, 2016

simply no, thank you

i so badly wanted to like amy poehler's memoir, yes please. because i love amy. i loved her on snl. i loved her on parks & recreation. i loved her when she hosted the golden globes. i loved her bits during the emmys. i think she is funny and smart and she has a lot of smart and funny friends. and she's been a comedy writer her whole career. you'd think that she would have written a very funny book, but she didn't. and for someone who talks about how badly she feels when a joke falls flat it's so disappointing that this was her best effort. it's like someone told amy, here's some money, write a book. but she had no idea what she wanted to write about and many ideas about what she didn't want to write about. for someone who seems to be open and committed to taking a bit as far as it can go, she does not do that here. the glimpses she gives us into amy poehler the person are too slight. and the stories she tells about the people she's met and how she got to where she is are too unfocussed and lack depth. one of the best chapters in the book is when she talks about the development of parks & rec. she gets michael schur to add footnotes to her memories of that time and the back and forth provides a light touch that the book desperately needed. she has so much affection for the series and yet it feels like she barely shares anything about it. for a memoir it's very strange because in many ways you feel like you know less about the person who wrote it after reading it than you did before you started.

instead it's probably best to think about moments like this on parks & rec. this moment felt more real than anything in the book. and that's saying something.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

something from the archives: after vegas - part 8

one last look at things from liz's point of view. the next chapter is more of an epilogue where everything gets tied up in a neat little package--or something like that. but before things end for good, there's just a little more to resolve after the jump. if you need to catch up here are links to parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

simply unreal

so it's no big secret that i'm a huge fan of shiri appleby's. i loved her on roswell. and i've watched terrible shows like life unexpected just because she was on them. last summer she starred on this surprisingly amazing show called unreal. surprisingly amazing because this show airs on lifetime, a channel better known for it's cheesy movies of the week instead of cutting edge black comedies.

unreal takes on the reality dating television genre and exposes the manipulative, overproduced underbellies of shows like the bachelor. it is totally awesome. shiri appelby plays a girl named rachel. rachel is a total mess. she keeps meaning to improve her life and do worthier things with it, but keeps getting sucked into the game by her frenemy and boss quinn, played by the always amazing constance zimmer. the first season was spectacular and i am so excited for season 2. because i know it will be totally amazing. there is so much juicy stuff to be had. 

especially since this season there is a new bachelor--which makes me a little sad because i loved freddie stroma and his incredible chemistry with shiri and i have heard rumors he might be back, but he will probably not be a lead and i just loved his character in season 1 even though he was a total douche. but this season's new bachelor is black, which is kind of rad considering that the real bachelor franchise has never had a black lead bachelor/bachelorette in its 20+ seasons on television. sometimes while watching unreal i wish that it were real. even though i haven't watched the bachelor in fifteen years. season 2 premieres on june 6th, and i, for one, can't wait. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

simply rethinking the formula

so in chemistry formulas are a good thing. in baking recipes are necessary. in construction following a set of instructions makes the difference between freestanding furniture and a pile of junk. sometimes we see entertainment follow a formula. like in a romantic comedy, where the two leads have their meet-cute and then shenanigans occur and in the end they end up together because that's what you're signed up for.

i don't mind things that are predictable in broad strokes, especially if they are unique in the details. see for example the proposal which is one of my favorite romantic comedies, and is unique in that the leads in some sense swap gender roles. but sometimes formulas are bad, in that even with different details they still feel tired or easy. things wrap too neatly. most writers follow some sort of formula, and it's usually okay. it's more common in genre fare, but even some literary folks fall prey to this.

one recent example i've encountered is kate morton. i recently listened to the lake house on audiobook, and i liked it. it wasn't the perfect novel, but it was an entertaining story with enough mystery to keep me guessing and a nice balance of contemporary and historical plotlines. when audible had a two for one sale and i noticed that the distant hours was a part of it, i thought cool, let's try it. and again it was a perfectly entertaining story, but having read (listened) to two of her books in a short time frame, i don't think i'll come back for more.

i don't actively hate anything about her novels. and she does try to change up structure and the stories are all different. but i'm not sure they are different enough. from the descriptions of her other novels, it all seems to follow the same formula. long ago events end in mystery, contemporary person is somehow linked to long ago events and goes about deciding to solve the mystery once and for all, story developed in both present and past, and then everything resolves way too neatly. there is nothing wrong with that formula.

there isn't.

except i think in the end i found both her novels deeply unsatisfying. even as everything resolves way too neatly, i think because we spend so much time with the characters in the past—characters whose presents are already accounted for and they are because of whatever mystery somewhat lacking—these are characters who in the past have so much potential and in the present are clearly missing something—i don't know. it just doesn't work for me. it all feels like too little, too late. and i just think that knowing that this is the way kate morton structures her books means that i probably won't go back for more.

morton isn't the only author i'm not likely to seek out again, but she is the most recent. and it's not like this only happens in fiction. there are writer-directors whose shows i refuse to check out because i know in the end i'll be disappointed. because the fact is, i kind of hate their formula.

Monday, May 23, 2016

simply enjoying the celebrity gossip

you guys, i don't listen to country music. i don't watch the voice. i like gwen stefani, but my fondness has more to do with how no doubt figured into my high school soundtrack more than the artist she's morphed into. when i see her interviewed i'm not exactly convinced she's human. or if she is human, there doesn't seem to be much going on in her head. this is probably not a fair assessment of gwen. she's obviously a savvy businesswoman, she's a musician with a proven track record, and she has enough personality and charisma to front her own band.

before taylor swift made every one of her heartbreaks into a hit song, gwen stefani was doing it. i think we can all acknowledge that "don't speak" is an amazing f-u song. and the best part of the back story to that song is that gwen's ex was in the band. so he's been forced to play a bitter break-up song for 20 years. that is some amazing payback. she harnessed her bad break-up and made a career of it, but honestly, nothing was ever as good as those original break-up songs at least in my opinion.

but now that her "fairytale" marriage to gavin rossdale imploded and she has a whole new host of break-up songs to sing, i am really digging her music again. and i find myself fascinated by her new love story. especially since blake has a bad break-up of his own that he's moving through. and like i can't get enough of them. and i don't know why, because i never cared about blake shelton until he started dating gwen. and it's not like i avidly followed gwen news before that. but now i'm like obsessed with their instagrams and twitter pages. and i watch and re-watch their performances on the voice. and i think maybe it's because they've let us watch their relationship develop live? it's so public. nothing they do is truly private. and maybe it is all just a performance, but the way they look at each other doesn't feel like a performance. so maybe the fascination is because it's so hard to believe it is real so you keep watching to see what happens next. so far all that has happened is that they seem more in love than ever. and i say good for them.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

strictly literary: jane steele by lyndsay faye

imagine mild-mannered governess is actually a murderess several times over and there you have the hook for jane steele by lyndsay faye. this homage to jane eyre has been mischaracterized as a retelling, but that is absolutely not the case.

certainly there is overlap. jane steele's life story maps pretty closely to jane eyre's, with several key differences. jane steele's victorian england is a darker, grittier place. but the fact that the seedy underbelly is explicitly rendered in the text feels fresh, this isn't just some jane eyre wannabe we're reading about. this is jane steele, a woman who identifies with jane eyre, but who has more depth and more agency than our original victorian-era heroine.

even though our jane is a serial murderer, she is extremely sympathetic. also there is an argument to be made for the fact that all of her murders are somewhat justified. if anything she is a vigilante, not evil or wicked. her name is especially apt, as she has such a strong sense of self, an inner core of steel that makes her a character worth rooting for.

i also really enjoyed the addition of the sikhs to the story. it gives charles thornfield [our mr. rochester] some hidden depths. he's not just some dude unfortunately married to a crazy lady living in the attic. he's a man who has seen war and suffering, a man who feels honor and loyalty to the people who he's brought with him to england. the secondary characters are so richly drawn that there is much to enjoy in the details of this novel. it's worth reading and re-reading. and if i'm being completely honest, i may love it a little more than i love jane eyre. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

strictly literary: sway by katherine savage

this book is loooong. so long. maybe too long? from the description i thought sway was going to be some sort of james bond–miss moneypenny erotic thriller kind of deal, except it turns out the male lead is a sort of vampire and there is less espionage and more recovering from sexual assault than i expected.

not only is this book long and overly verbose, it doesn't even bother using words correctly! ascent is used for assent—and they are not the same thing at all. the word meet is used in a way i have never heard it used before and i read non-american authors all the time. silly typos just abound.  also this is meant to be canadian-british english, but it wasn't terribly consistent about keeping to one or the other and some american englishisms slipped in there too. and i get it, this was an 841 page beast of a novel, so it's no surprise that someone skimped on the copyediting/proofreading.

as for story, while there is nothing truly groundbreaking here, the kind of not-vampire the main character is and his bond with the heroine (who is stupidly named evening) is well thought out and the relationship is well-plotted. the author also does a good job of alternating point of views, and ronan's pov is markedly different from evening's in a good way.

my main issue is this, i picked this up because i thought it would be a quick read. it was not. it was an absolute shock to realize how many pages this book was and for the genre it was also exceptionally dense at times. so it was more of a commitment to read than i expected. and there were scenes of exposition that were so repetitive or didn't advance the story in any discernible way that i ended up outright skimming them until i got to some action. on the other hand, at least this book is not a trilogy or a duology or some other sort of multi-part series. i appreciate that about it at least.

**sway published on november 17, 2015. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/createspace/amazon kdp in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

simply loving this cameo

this scene in unbreakable kimmy schmidt made my day.

he is, and always will be one of my favorite actors. i wish he was in more stuff.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

something from the archives: after vegas - part 7

there are only two additional parts after this one. here's one last look at michael's journal. after the jump. catch up with earlier parts with these handy-dandy links: parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

simply talking about shoes

when i was in college i worked at a shoe store--actually it was a high-end shoe boutique. until that moment i don't believe i had any strong feelings about footwear. they just happened to be what i wore on my feet and my mom usually took me to buy them. until i worked at the shoe store i didn't have much in the way of expendable income. [n.b. i probably should have saved more of my earnings from that job.] but then i had a 40% discount and access to all these gorgeous shoes.

the rest, as they say is history. i have way more pairs of shoes than i actually need. but i still find myself buying them. i have a particular weakness for sandals and wedges. even though as much as i buy new pairs of shoes, i end up wearing the same ones until i destroy them. these are entirely #firstworldproblems as they say.

anyway, what got me thinking of shoes this morning was that i ordered a new pair recently. except by the time the box arrived i had completely forgotten why i had ordered the shoes until i opened the box. "oh," i said to my husband. "the navy sandals!" my poor husband looked confused, "the color or the army?" he asked me. i was confused until i thought about what i had said and then clarified that i meant the color. then he asked me "so you specifically went out and chose these shoes because of the color? like you thought to yourself i need some navy sandals?" and i said "yes."

he was so astonished that this was a thought that a person could have. and i was like "welcome to the mind of women. we like shoes and think of them in colors beyond black or brown." i don't think he appreciated my warm welcome though. he's much happier when he doesn't have to think about shoes. so i don't tell him how i think about shoes all the time, and constantly stalk designer shoes that i recognize i have no use for on sites like gilt and bluefly. but one of these days, i totally want to have a pair of louboutins in my closet. the red soles are so pretty! the heels are to die for. and i'm not entirely sure i can walk in them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

seriously romantic: within reach by jessica stevens

i don't know what it was about this cover, but i thought it was so pretty. like you can imagine someone coming up to the girl on the cover and being about to tap her on the shoulder, but maybe she's a hair out of reach. in this paranormal young adult romance, xan and lila are perfect soulmates who have wasted five lifetimes together because, well, let's just say reasons for now.

from the within reach back cover blurb we know that dying wasn’t on seventeen-year-old xander hemlock’s summer to-do-list. finding ways to spend more time with his girlfriend, lila, was the most critical thinking he planned on doing. but that was before he found himself trapped in a realm of only darkness with thirty days to convince lila he’s not actually dead—well, not completely, anyway. and from that description, this book seemed different than a lot of the ya i usually read, so i thought i'd give it a chance.

i don't regret having read this, but in the end i think the interesting idea wasn't executed all that well. there are tons of structural issues. characters don't move in and out of scenes in ways that make sense. and while some leeway should be given because this is a paranormal and the spiritual realm (for lack of a better descriptor) plays a huge part in the novel's setting. also, i think the alternating point of view in the novel doesn't really do it any favors. i know it's the flavor of the month in ya and new adult, but i often think that there are better ways to compose the story.

so here's the story, xan is trapped in this spiritual plane, he is dead but his soul is somehow still hanging around. a third character, wes, explains that he can't leave because lila is the other half of his soul. and that they've already had five lifetimes to try and get something right. but this is their last shot. if he fails then bad stuff will happen. the problem is that too much time is spent trying to explain this background, and it never makes sense. like i think the characters try to explain it like five times, and i'm still not entirely clear on the hows and whys of why xan couldn't move on.

it also felt like lila as a character had all this interesting backstory that was pushed to the periphery because the main thrust of the plot is all about getting her to recognize xan's spirit. actually the same goes for xan, so many tidbits of his past were thrown into the story, but not enough time was given to provide proper context, and in the end you feel like you've read this story, but you aren't positive it's the story you actually wanted to read.

**this book is set to release on may 17, 2016. i was able to read an advance reader copy thanks to netgalley/sparksbooks. i received a copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

simply getting my exercise on

i am no great athlete, unless you count my olympic level reading skills. but my eye muscle strength and ability to speed read will not really help burn calories. and as the march of time finds my forties closer each day i find that i can't diet without exercise. there are benefits to this. the last time i focused on losing weight it worked, but i didn't get toned so i didn't lose as many inches in the right places.

it had been a year since i had my last baby and i hadn't dropped more than ten of the thirty pounds i put on during pregnancy, so i was ready to put some work into losing the remaining baby weight and hopefully a bit more too. an old co-worker of mine had recently gotten divorced and discovered the beachbody programs and started a personal coaching business. she looked great and the more she talked about what she had been doing the more intrigued i was about giving it a try. i started the 21 day fix program a little over two months ago, and since then i've lost 13 pounds. beyond the weight i've lost, i've also lost three inches off my waistline, and i can see where my body looks fit and toned. i feel better. stronger too.

now, i will cop to not following the portion control part of the program to the letter. i tried that but realized that if i wanted to make this diet and exercise program part of my lifestyle i needed something that would allow me to be a little more flexible. so instead i am doing the weight watchers program. and it is working. it's also hard work too. but i feel good about myself when i exercise. and i find myself being able to do more and more challenging things each time i do the daily workouts.

i'm on my third round of the 21 day fix, and i think after this round i will try one of the other exercise programs. i feel like i'm leveling up. that's not something i've ever really said about myself and exercise, so that is pretty cool.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

seriously romantic: there's something about friendship

on an impulse i picked up the friends first series by laura drewry, perhaps the impulse dictated by one of the series being on sale for 99¢ and then realizing that it was the third one and i should really probably start with the first. which is totally an evil marketing ploy, but it definitely worked and heck, i enjoyed all three novels. the first one plain jayne was right up my alley, it's the story of two friends (jayne and nick) who reconnect and realize that there was love between them all along. it's a bittersweet story, because there's lost time and misunderstanding and insecurity and so much love and sweetness. one thing the book does well is establish the secondary characters who go on to get their own stories.

next one up was prima donna, which was probably my least favorite of the four, even though i really liked both leads (carter and regan). there was something about their story that didn't quite resonate with me. the obstacles that kept being pushed on them didn't seem organic, even though their story is also especially poignant. i'd say more but then i worry about ruining the whole story. it's not even that the secrets the characters are keeping are all that dramatic, but in order to believe the conflict you can't the secrets ahead of time. the book i originally wanted to read for the great sales price was accidentally in love, and it was honestly my favorite of the series. my favorite romance trope is the insta-hate to true love story. the leads (ellie and brett) in this one were my favorite of the series, and seeing them get together was the best. the way they came to realize that there was something more between them was so perfectly realized. it didn't feel forced at all. as characters without a ton of backstory together, it was nice to see how their love for each other developed. 

and the last book in the series, how forever feels, ties everything together beautifully. the leads in this one (maya and jack) get their own sweetly sentimental story, and even though the obstacles are entirely self-imposed they don't drag on so long that you get frustrated as a reader. the one thread that continues and grows during throughout the whole series is the friendship and relationships between all the characters. one of the things that made both accidentally in love and how forever feels the more enjoyable books in the series is that you get to see all the characters including the leads from previous novels interact, and you know the leads so well by that point that you are really looking forward to see how they get their happy ending. 

these books aren't deep. they aren't groundbreaking. but they are very satisfying reads. totally worth the 99¢ and several extra dollars that suckered me into buying them.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

seriously romantic: hello? by lisa wiemer

i picked up hello?  because i saw it on huntley fitzpatrick's goodreads list of books and since i liked huntley's books and other things she says she liked reading i thought, let's give this a try. i borrowed the book from the library, and i have to say that i wished maybe i had gotten an ebook version? i admit this was probably a difficult book to typeset, but it felt like the text ran almost to the edges and there was no space. the text felt so crowded. it made it hard to read at first, especially since my copy hadn't ever been taken out by anyone else, so it was totally like i was cracking open a new book and it didn't have any give.

what makes this book difficult to typeset is that there are 5 distinct main characters: tricia, emerson, angie, brenda, and brian. tricia, emerson and brian write in prose. brian has some illustrations in his sections, but there's mostly straight prose telling the story. angie and brenda write in poetry and screenplay form respectively. angie's poetry is that free verse stuff that teenagers and rosie o'donnell do. it's "poetry" except it's just choppily written prose. and then silly typographic stuff is done like writing down like:


or crying like:

  r   r
 y   y
 i     i
n     n
g     g

yeah, i'm not a fan of that stuff. the screenplay bits worked a little better, but i think the other problem this book has is that it tried to cover so much that it felt like not enough time was really given to the characters in order for each of them to deal with their problems. tricia is griefstricken and suicidal, emerson suffers ptsd, angie is a terrible human being with an abusive father, brenda was raped, and brian is mostly lame and mooning after tricia. tricia and emerson are really the heart and soul of the book, even though actually the characters most connected to each other are angie, brenda and brian. but i feel like dividing these two sets of characters and inviting them to tell their own stories in two separate novels might have functioned a lot better.

also, there's a lot in this book about signs and spiritualism that i'm not convinced help tell a compelling story. a sixth character in the novel is supposed to be tricia's grandmother, especially since it is her death that precipitates so much of the story, but i'm not sure it works? i know spiritualism helps many who grieve, and yet i'm not sure that the kind of spiritualism these teenagers are talking about fits their story? especially since we don't actually spend enough time with either tricia or emerson until the end, and then their conversation about death, signs, connections kind of feels tacked on to bring things full circle without actually achieving that?

in the end though, it was a good read. i like the characters, i just wish they hadn't been given short shrift. i liked the writing, except for the cheesy poetry. i think the author did something interesting with form, i'm just not entirely sure she accomplished all she meant to. i debated listing this as a romance or just something literary. and i think i went with romance because at it's bare bones it is essentially a romance. it does some different things with form in a literary sense, but not enough to lose the ya romance label.

Friday, May 13, 2016

simply taking some girl time

i'm always impressed at how i manage to carve out time for myself even with the three kids, husband, full-time job, house, and endless appointments. but i do, i have to, because otherwise i would go absolutely crazy. since moving to upstate new york we've fallen in with some friends who take annual girls and guys trips. the guys go to a hunting lodge and spend a weekend bbq-ing and playing lawn games and ingesting insane amounts of alcohol. while there is some logistical planning that goes into the weekend, the time of year, the location, and general itinerary are always the same, so man camp is so easy to plan. the girls' getaway is kind of a logistical nightmare, especially considering that there are 10 of us in the group and we don't all enjoy the same things.

plus we have to change up locales every year and not everyone can make it every year and there's a whole lot of drama. one of the husbands jokingly called the weekend cramp, and that's the moniker that stuck, and it's hard to argue that it isn't absolutely fitting.

this year we are going to lake placid, ny. it should be fun, once we are there i know i will have fun. but the lead up to the weekend is always stressful and exhausting. i always think that i'll have time to read or watch tv shows i haven't caught up on but that is never the case. (in fact by tomorrow night i have to watch episodes of vampire diaries and the originals lest i fall too far behind and the episodes fall off hulu.)

but lest i make it sound like this weekend is a total nightmare--it's really not--here are some of the fun things i got to do to prepare for it. i was put in charge of souvenirs for our weekend. a little too optimistically i decided on monogrammed flip-flops for everyone. here's a snap of mine:

one side has my initials and the other a logo i designed for us for the weekend. i bought the flip-flops at old navy and found two etsy shops to supply the vinyl decals. i'm so excited about the logo decals. i love it when i get to use illustrator for stuff. it's the nerdy graphic designer side of me that gets all excited, even though lord knows i'm not even all that good at it. it's still just something i love to do. and i'm excited to share it with my friends. i also made monogrammed stemless wine glasses and a goody bag full of treats like lipsmackers lip balm, mini nail files and polish, face cleansing wipes, chewing gum and some fancy hand lotions. now i just have to wait for them to open their gifts to see if they like it. waiting is the hardest part.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

something from the archives: after vegas - part 6

hey look, more from the past. this is another multi-character section, these were the hardest parts to write because i had a hard time capturing each character's distinct voice. i think there is some of that here, but perhaps not enough.

oh well. you can judge for yourself after the jump. if you need a refresher parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are linked for your convenience.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

simply listening to a story

i've always resisted the idea of audiobooks. i thought they would put me right to sleep a dangerous thing to tempt if i happened to be driving. especially since i suffer vehicular narcolepsy, something that usually plagues young children and, well, me. it might not actually be a thing. but it's a thing that happens to me all the time. so i was convinced that audiobooks would put me right to sleep.

but then, i kept getting these offers from audible. 2 free books to start a trial membership. and there were these two books i wanted to read but the library didn't have them. so i thought, what do i have to lose? the first two audiobooks i listened to were stillwater by melissa lenhardt and first & then by emma mills. and then i forgot to cancel the free membership in time and i had this other credit, so i decided to try listening to carry on by rainbow rowell. and then i admitted that i didn't want to cancel this thing. i enjoyed listening to books. this in no way put me to sleep. in fact, i usually just wanted to keep driving because i wanted to know what would happen next.

i have an hour-long commute to and from work. listening to audiobooks makes me feel like i'm not wasting time. and i am more willing to try books i'm not sure i'd have the patience to read. like kate morton's the lake house and the distant hours or kristin hannah's the nightingale. i'm not that big on reading historical fiction, but in audible form it becomes something i really enjoy listening to. on impulse i bought rosamund pike's narration of pride & prejudice and it was so fun. i realized i definitely have entire passages of that novel memorized. not surprising since i've read it a million trillion times and it's so fun to appreciate the language of a story i'm so familiar with in a different way.

i currently have three credits available on audible and i keep trying to figure out what to listen to next. i can't wait to listen to the next story on my list unfold. though one thing i definitely do before i buy any audiobook is listen to a sample. if i can't stand the narrator's voice there is no point to buying a book. i've also figured out that i prefer female narrators over male narrators. though euan morton's narration for carry on was spectacular. everything about that book i loved. the story, the narrator. it's one i'm probably going to listen to again i loved it so much.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

strictly literary: scarlet rain by kristin cast

scarlet rain is the sequel to amber smoke, which i've previously reviewed. given the cliffhanger ending of the latter i felt compelled to read the series on. even though i still think these books would have benefited from being all one novel instead of being forced into a trilogy (i'm assuming). i also still think it's so cheesy that both of them have ended with "the end...for now." it's like how the blob ends with "the end" and then changes a "?" to the screen at the last second. i just think this is so lame. because obviously we know that the story is still in the middle--too many questions remain to be answered. i won't spoil the cliffhanger here, though i will say that it isn't as impactful as the cliffhanger in the first book, so being forced to wait for more doesn't seem like that much of a punishment.

as with amber smoke, there are good things and things that don't quite work here. there is joking about alek and eva's insta-love from bridget, but bridget and james have their own insta-love/lust thing going on too. the jokes are a little to meta and fall a bit flat. and the way it all happens is kind of weird. it's like the character of james is written like he's much younger than the age he is in the novels. i will say that this time the police story wove in a little better with the mythological story, so it made sense that these characters would be converging.

i think the underworld scenes worked better this time around too. and the way the mythology feeds the action is still pretty cool. ultimately these books are a fun, escapist read. nothing to take too seriously, or question. some scenes are really well-written, with crisp dialogue and description and other scenes try way too hard and end up on this side of cringeworthy. but again, you power through and just enjoy where it's going. at least that's what i did. and i'm pretty sure i'm in for part three. though if this is going to be more than a trilogy i might end up annoyed because i already think that it's been gratuitously divided up.

**this book is scheduled to publish on may 17, 2016. i received a complimentary advanced reader copy courtesy of netgalley/diversion books in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

strictly literary: amber smoke by kristin cast

in amber smoke by kristin cast we are introduced to alek, the son of the furies and savior of the underworld and eva, a descendant of the first oracle and the only mortal strong enough to help alek save the underworld and the mortal world. sounds pretty simple right?

if only the novel hadn't taken so much time to get the lead characters in the same space. the first half of the novel is setting up the big moment where alek and eva meet. because even though she is a descendant of the first oracle he has to breathe new life into her in order for her to unlock her powers. so we are treated to a lot of exposition in the underworld realm and then a lot of exposition introducing us to eva and how she's a different kind of girl. except she's also kind of ordinary and seems to have terrible taste in men and friends.

her friend bridget--who nearly date rapes alek on first meeting him--is all over the place. she seems like an airhead party girl, but she also seems to genuinely love her friend. and once the action kicks in she is integral to keeping eva and alek safe. she accepts the things alek tells her more readily than eva does, even though eva actually experiences the underworld more directly.

added to the whole underworld falling apart and demons escaping and threatening the existence of everyone, there's a murder case that figures directly into this. eva and alek are unwittingly at the center of it, even though they have nothing to do with the original murder. this introduces a whole host of police characters, some of whom have interesting pasts that are only hinted at.

and this is where i think the novel fails, there is too much exposition on things that don't actually matter and not enough plot, but there is also not enough character development. the whole concept is interesting, but the fact that we don't really know the characters except as shallow tropes by the book's end is a problem. the author world builds the underworld beautifully, but then alek has to spend the book zapping back and forth between the underworld and the mortal realm and it feels silly. meanwhile it's not clear what the murder investigation plot is meant to accomplish, other than setting up one of the detectives as a more important character in the next book. shouldn't there be some pay off in this one? the book kind of cheesily ends with an ominous "the end...for now" and i just had to shake my head at that.

the follow up to amber smoke, scarlet rain is set to publish this month. amber smoke ends on such a cliffhanger it's hard to say that i don't want to read the sequel. because in spite of its problems it was a fun, quick read. but more than anything i think that they probably should have been combined into one book. i really think that not every book idea needs to be a series. sometimes ideas work better as a standalone, and i don't know that there is enough story here to justify a trilogy of books. i see this kind of serializing happen a lot with new adult novels, and i think it's kind of an unfortunate trait of the genre.

**thanks to netgalley/diversion books i received a copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

simply living life furiously happy

so i just finished reading let's pretend this never happened and furiously happy by jenny lawson (aka the bloggess). the former i read part of at work and seriously regretted it as i tried to mask my laughing into something dignified. but instead this made me end up snorting with laughter which is the absolute opposite of dignified and makes it totally apparent that you are not working. i basically re-read the beyoncé the chicken story once a year, but even though i've read this blog post multiple times i still end up ugly crying i'm laughing so hard as i read it for the fiftieth time in the book.

i don't know if it's just that her way of phrasing things just hits me right in my silly spot because generally speaking i'm not someone who laughs out loud at things. except maybe i'm the kind of person who laughs out loud at terrible things because the truth of the matter is that these books are about dealing with severe social anxiety and mental illness. obviously the bloggess uses humor to deal with a lot of her issues, but it starts in a dark place. and for some reason i just can't stop laughing.

so sometimes i worry that i'm seriously twisted. like there has to be something wrong with me that i am finding these things so funny. the truth is in my real life i'm the person who will laugh inappropriately when something terrible happens to someone. my kids face-plant and i will laugh while soothing their injured pride. which is usually all that's injured. i'd like to think i'd be a little less prone to the giggles if something were really wrong, like needing stitches wrong, but i can't guarantee what my reaction will be since (knock on wood) i've never been in that situation as of yet.

i do have a little boy so i'm sure it's only a matter of time. and my youngest daughter is kind of fearless in that reckless disregard for the sanctity of human life way, so i'm actually positive that it is only a matter of time. anyway, the point is, i really enjoyed reading these books. and i also learned a lot about how it feels to be depressed. i have one really good friend who struggles with depression and i could see echoes of things from these books in her. i also figured out that while it's not like i've never had depressive thoughts or insecurities, i've never experienced the kind of anxiety or darkness that she describes. and i'm not saying that makes me better than anyone, but more that it's kind of a relief to know that even at my darkest i somehow manage to avoid something truly difficult. i have it kind of easy, actually. and that makes me one of the lucky ones and i appreciate it.

one of my favorite things that the books cover is the author's relationship with her husband. he serves as her comic foil but in furiously happy she says to him "your life would be easier without me." and he agrees. then he says "it would be easier, but it wouldn't be better." and there is something about that that rings so true to me. there are moments when she talks about how he cares for her that just make you happy to know that these two people are there for each other. it's like my life would be easier if i didn't have kids, but it wouldn't be better. being a mother has made me a richer human being. and not a day goes by that i feel so blessed for having brought three unique souls into this world.

it's hard. there's no doubt about that, being a parent is hard work. but i never feel like i should whine or complain about it. more than most people i did have a choice about whether or not to have kids. two of them are here due to ivf, and one was a delightful surprise (and while it's so easy to guess who is who, we'll leave it a mystery in the blogosphere). anyway, i feel like this post has somehow gotten away from me. i think the lesson here is "and that's why you should learn to pick your battles" and if you want to laugh, definitely read the bloggess's books, even if they are actually about horrible things they are also incredibly, inappropriately funny. happy mother's day!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

seriously romantic: one paris summer by denise grover swank

when i read a book like one paris summer by denise grover swank i always have the urge to hop a plane to an exotic locale and fall in love. never mind that i am very happily married. i mean, it's paris. romance capital of the world. definitely on my bucket list of places i want to go. even if the only the only things i remember to say in french are je m'appelle jaques martineaux. je suis pianiste. j'habite à la place de la contrascarpe. (apologies, i just needed to get that out of my system. it happens every time i feel the urge to speak french. blame mlle. alió from my ap french class.)

one paris summer opens with siblings eric and sophie arriving in paris to attend their absent father's sudden wedding to a frenchwoman, eva. this is a family who's relationships are so fractured it is hard to know where to begin repairing it. eva, the future stepmother is written against type, she's a truly lovely person. she's warm and welcoming to her future stepkids. unfortunately she has a daughter, camille, who takes it upon herself to make sophie's life, in particular, a living hell.

so, things are complicated. and then they only get more complicated as dane, eric's friend joins them in paris and we are also introduced to camille's group of friends, which includes two young men named, mathieu and thomas who are interested in sophie in spite of camille's insistence that her friends treat her poorly. from the get-go it's pretty apparent that mathieu and sophie are meant to be together. and their romance is written so sweetly, that you can't help melting every time they are together on the page. yes, there are obstacles, and yes, there is s a huge misunderstanding, but this book is at it's heart a romance and there is a happily ever after. and how you get there is so satisfying. 

what elevates this book though, is that even though it is a romance, it is about so much more than the romance. it's a true coming-of-age story for sophie. she finds an inner core of strength and independence that make her more and more likable as she grows as a character. her relationships with her parents and her brother deepen and experience a rebirth throughout the novel, and it is all handled so nicely even as the characters are put through an emotional wringer. sophie's ability to play the piano, her access to the instrument, her need to play music is also integral to all of this. as she improves as a pianist, she also gains a stronger sense of self. and when she finally allows herself to pursue her dreams, it's a moment that is just about her. and that's a pretty cool thing. 

if you liked anna and the french kiss by stephanie perkins or just one day by gayle forman, you will definitely like this.

**this book is set to release on june 7, 2016. i was able to read an advance reader copy thanks to netgalley/zonderkidz books/blink. i received a copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

strictly literary: miss peregrine's home for peculiar children by ransom riggs

usually i post book reviews under the "seriously romantic" tag, but since i do occasionally read books that are not romances i figured i should have another tag and that's how "strictly literary" has come to be. i'll be honest, i'd been seeing miss peregrine's home for peculiar children on book lists for a while. and i really liked the title. so on the strength of those two things when i saw it as an available ebook from my library i decided to check it out. maybe i should have read the description first. or at least some actual reviews?

then i started reading it. and i put it down. and then i had to check it out again. and finally i got to a point where things started to happen. it's just that it took so long to get there. and so much of the first 40% of the book is telling you that there is going to be something interesting happening that by the time you finally get to the interesting bits you are a like bit like, well okay, but really can the action start yet?

i think that if i had been the editor for this book i would have recommended major changes to the structure. cutting out some of the set up and bringing jacob into the loop world much sooner. because by the time it happens i was so close to being done with the book. once things start to happen and jacob starts learning things about himself and his place within the loop world, things get interesting. but i'm not sure they ever got interesting enough to convince me to read two additional novels (there are two sequels: hollow city and library of souls). that's a big commitment for a book i didn't love. so now i'm not sure what i'm going to do. these books were written in part because the author started collected these weird vintage photographs and decided to create a story about them. i'm just not sure that's the best way to start a story? or maybe it's just that the story he created wasn't compelling enough for me?

i'll probably wait it out and maybe when i have less on my to-be-read pile i'll decide to check the other two out. but then my to-be-read pile already includes a number of sequels i'm not sure i'm interested enough to read. maybe i shouldn't add more?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

something from the archives: after vegas - part 5

it's funny, i haven't read these stories in years. re-reading them now reminds me how much my life has changed. i'm not the same person i was then, but it's fun to get a glimpse of who i was through these stories.

more angst after the jump! and you can catch up with the earlier chapters by following the links to parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

simply embracing the ridiculous

now that life is so busy, what with three kids, a full time job, and a house that unfortunately doesn't clean itself, i find myself watching more comedies than dramas. i still love a good drama, but it's too hard to find the time to watch them. and at the end of the day i find that i want to laugh more than i want to experience high stakes tension.

i still love modern family and the big bang theory, and watch them regularly. but i also watch a whole host of comedies that are less grounded in reality--you might even say they are downright weird. and sometimes i don't know how i feel about that as i watch.

take the last man on earth, will forte's end of the world comedy is hard to describe. because in many ways this show is not at all a comedy. it's a deeply weird, deeply disturbed post-apocalyptic drama except for the fact that it is presented and acted out as a comedy. it's funny, sometimes. it's disturbing, more often than i can count. but it's also strangely compelling, which is why i keep coming back for more. even as i think there is no way to redeem these characters, you can't help but wonder where they are going to go next.

or what about the unbreakable kimmy schmidt? i love ellie kemper's all-in performance as the aforementioned kimmy. she is a delight. but the show is not without it's problems. like how there's a white actress playing a native american character in the most cringe-worthy way possible? or how a black actor dons yellowface and it's supposed to be okay because the asian people protesting are won over by the performance? people play up stereotypes all the time and call it comedy, but tina fey should know better than that. and it's upsetting to realize that she doesn't see where the show crosses the line. if kimmy weren't so endearing it would be easier to ignore the show. but i loved kemper as erin on the office, and i love her here too. so i keep watching. even as i'm not sure how i feel about anything that happens on the show.

then there's the mindy project, which i was loving until this season when dr. danny castellano took a turn from adorable co-worker with fine dance moves to asshole misogynist. to be honest, actually, i always had mixed feelings about this show. i loved mindy and danny. but then i also hated the revolving cast of
supporting characters. i especially hate ike barinholtz's morgan, in small doses he can be funny, but mostly he is weird and creepy and i always feel slightly grosser for being forced to sit through his scenes. this is a show that in some way felt half-baked when it first started. so as it has evolved on the screen it seems like the writers have workshopped their original concept. but sometimes i wonder if they've workshopped it too far from what made the show originally enjoyable? ultimately mindy is the writer and the star, and she is a delight. but sometimes i wish there were someone in that writer's room who'd help them see that it needn't always go so far into the absurd.

in the end i keep watching these shows because they do provide light hearted entertainment, even though sometimes i feel conflicted about it. sometimes you just have to shrug and embrace the ridiculous for what it is. right?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

simply asking are revivals a good idea?

so everyone has heard about the gilmore girls revival set to premiere on netflix later this year, right? am i the only person who isn't thrilled? i had such a complicated relationship with that show. there were parts of it that i loved. but there was so much more i hated.

like sookie st. james. no offense to melissa mccarthy who has gone on to bigger and better things. but i found her character on gilmore girls intolerable. so when at first it seemed like she wasn't returning, i was like nbd. but everyone else just about lost their mind, and now she's back and i'm like ugh.

i guess the thing is, unlike many other people i was relieved when that show ended. i never felt like i had too little time with it. the things that remained unanswered i was okay with. but these days it seems like studios only want to produce content they know has previously been marketable. so we keep seeing shows come back from the dead. and maybe in the case of something like twin peaks, there's new material to hew, new mysteries to unfold. also it's freaking david lynch.

but gilmore girls? do people really need to see what happened next? is it actually possible for amy sherman-palladino to surprise us? were these characters really that beloved? i mostly thought they were super annoying.

i haven't decided yet whether or not i'm going to watch. i suppose i have plenty of time to come to terms with whatever decision i make.

Monday, May 2, 2016

print versus screen: the mortal instruments

so on a friend's recommendation i picked up the mortal instruments series by cassandra clare. this is a six-novel series we're talking about here, and it has a wealth of entertainment that includes all the teen angst i love plus vampires, warlocks, angels and demons. it's amazing! also incredibly soapy and cheesy, but it's still my jam. the great thing about this series is that it keeps going--there are at least five spin-off series that either tie into the world or directly involve characters from the original series.

and then, even better, i found out freeform had adapted the books to a series called shadowhunters. there was an ill-fated attempt to launch a movie franchise similar to the twilight books, but it didn't take. from clips i've seen i think it was probably mis-cast. plus i think that given the amount of source material, these books were always going to function better as a television series. so far most of city of bones is covered by the series, though a few things have been rearranged from future novels to allow for more context or provide additional character development.

staying true to the books for the most part, shadowhunters is totally my new obsession. i watched most of season 1 in two days. mainly because the last episode hadn't aired yet when i finished binge-watching. so, so good. like the cw, freeform excels at casting young, pretty stars for it's shows. and there is plenty eye candy to enjoy.

the one slightly weird thing about the books and the tv series, is that for a while there you are hoping the lead characters commit incest. having grown up without knowing the truth about either of their pasts, or even knowing each other, at one point in the series the villain, valentine, claims to be both their biological father. this is only the truth for one of them, but at the time neither of them has any reason to doubt that this is true. and this causes much drama and angst and whatnot.

and i mean, as an obstacle i guess it worked in the book series. and it seems to be working on the tv show too. but it's still really weird. because the two leads have already had scenes like this:

so hot right? and like two episodes later, maybe three, the sibling truth bomb lie is dropped. and i guess i understand why for the drama, but a big part of me is like, nooooo! they are already good together.

anyway, i can't wait to see how they adapt some of my favorite scenes from future novels. there's one between jace and clary at the seelie court that will be very interesting to watch on screen. i mean, there was so much tension i felt just reading it on the page, can you imagine it being acted? especially since the two leads playing jace and clary on the show have amazing chemistry? i can't wait.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

simply catching up on life and tv

so i can't explain what motivated me to start posting again. but i can tell you what derailed me before. i had three kids, that's what happened. now that the youngest is entering toddlerhood life is somewhat calmer. or maybe i've just gotten better about taking time for myself. who knows?

i still watch loads of television, but we cut the cord on cable and have been functioning with a netflix, hulu, amazon prime combo that works for us. since we were never a family of channel surfers, it's actually worked out pretty well. and other than having to watch out for hulu expiration dates on some shows, for the most part i keep up okay.

though i do have to admit that i've fallen inexcusably behind on greys. this was totally my show, but last season they introduced the other sister and then they killed mcdreamy and i was like, do i really want to watch this? the thing is, when i do make time to watch i enjoy it. so i haven't given up on the idea of catching up quite yet.

i had also been watching scandal but i think it's taken the characters to this point where they are utterly irredeemable. everyone is so awful. i get the idea of the anti-hero, but i always feel like there has to be something that lets you root for them. some hidden layer of good, some vulnerability that makes them empathetic. and i don't think any of the characters on scandal have that anymore. they are all rotten, and it makes me feel gross to watch them. so i'm stopping.

i also still watch a ridiculous amount of teen drama. vampire diaries and the originals are my go-tos. they are awesome because it's totally teen drama plus vampires so everything is infinitely more ridiculous. i feel like vampire diaries is nearing the end though, and i'm okay with that. if they do one more season to wrap everything up i think that's good. heck, they could also end it this season and i wouldn't be too upset as long as there wasn't some horrible cliffhanger. actually, it's already been renewed for season 8, and hopefully the actors prevail and it is the last season. of the two shows, i actually enjoy the originals more. i think because it always feels like the stakes are higher. and also, i think as much as i think paul wesley is gorgeous, stefan as a character is super mopey. whereas on the originals no one has time to mope, everything is always on the verge of falling apart. i love klaus. though my favorite mikaelson is definitely elijah.

there are other shows i watch. and i imagine i'll talk about them here again. and maybe i'll talk about things in more depth once i feel like i've actually caught up. even though i'm writing this mostly for me, sometimes it's like i don't have time to think about things.

so writing it out like this, helps. and you know, it's also nice to look at the eye candy. hello, elijah...