Recent Media Favorites: Television, Music & Books

Entertainment

I’m an admitted home body, I love being at home but I also liked having the option of not being at home when I wanted. With what is gearing up to be a long, long winter ahead & having even more quiet time at home, I have definitely been consuming more than my fair share of media. Books, music, television, movies – sometimes I have the radio on while I am reading a book – madness, I tell you. Really anything that will distract me from shopping online, eating or watching the news 😛

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I missed out on this classic during my youth but have made up for these past few weeks. It’s just fun, wholesome, 90’s entertainment. Sarah Michelle Gellar was such a teen queen & David Boreanaz is still my ultimate dream boat. I’m a big fan of Agent Booth in Bones & didn’t realize he played such a major role in Buffy. I don’t get why the vampires are all so hideous but I have enjoyed every episode so far. I think I might check out Charmed next as I never watched that one before either.

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I am a repeat offender of watching comfort shows instead of checking out new ones, I am trying to break this habit. The Office takes me back to college & my dorm mates hunkering down to watch new episodes when we had spare time. Even though I’ve watched so many of the episodes dozens of times, they still crack me up. I think that my favorites are the Christmas episodes but I will elaborate more on that during Blogmas 😛

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This show has been surprisingly tough for me to get into even though I have a keen interest in the royal family. Not the newest generation, my interest stops with Diana but Queen Elizabeth & Princess Margaret are some of my favorite royals to read about. I felt inclined to dive back into the show when Gillian Anderson was announced as Margaret Thatcher – I cannot wait to get to the most recent season.

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New folk, old folk, all the folk. I’ve been enjoying The Decemberists, Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Baez, The Traveling Wilburys, John Denver – you name it, I’ve been rocking out to it. The Mariner’s Revenge Song has been my favorite to drive around & scream sing too. Also, I can’t carry a tune so I mostly scream sing everything 😀 The live version of My Back Pages sung by most of the members of the Traveling Wilburys has also been a repeat. I never understood the chorus but it makes a lot more sense to me in my adulthood.

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This series is so good! I had the first book on a recent To Be Read & am so glad that I did. It’s not as good as the world of Harry Potter but it is still a very fun & if you have any interest in the darker, youth fantasy genre I would recommend checking it out. I have been listening to the series on Audible & I think the narrator is fantastic all around but would definitely pick up a hard copy too. The storyline of cursed children is dark but the main character is saved from her demise & that’s where the adventure begins.

I have a lot of time on my hands so if you have any recommendations, let me know! I’m not looking for anyting super heavy right now but open to most anything else 🤍

One of Us Is Next: Bayview High Book II

Books, Entertainment

How’s that new blog schedule going? Terrible 😛 I have just been incredibly lazy lately, I literally cannot sleep enough even though I’m in bed by 8 most nights. Well, aside from one night where I decided that I would check out the Star Wars saga and stayed up until 3 AM. I can now say that I have watched these movies at the ripe old age of 33. You heard me, I had never seen a single one but they were OK if a little light on plot. Anyway, this post was supposed to be my January To Be Read but it’s already mid-January and I’ve read most of my picks. Instead, I will share my thoughts on the wildly anticipated sequel to the YA novel One of Us Is Lying which I really enjoyed. Now, I’m almost middle-aged and don’t dabble too much into this genre because of the corny high school scenarios but the plot of both books is pretty shocking and twisted for a YA novel which I appreciate.

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This book picks up where the first left off, there’s drama at Bayview High again and this time, the stakes are deadly. The main characters from the first installment have gone off to college, started lives of their own but still share an unbreakable bond after the death of one of their schoolmates, Simon. He ran a gossip app that tormented and entertained the population of Bayview, in his absence some have tried to rekindle the popular gossip forum without much success. That is until an anonymous schemer kicks off a game of Truth or Dare exposing the darkest secrets of the students.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the author brought back some of the main characters from the first one but also fleshed out a few of the supporting characters that we didn’t know a lot about. The story is told from different points of view, the main characters this time are Phoebe, Maeve and Knox whose lives are somewhat already intertwined before they become the focus of the Truth or Dare game in one way or another. I like this narration style but it can be hard to follow each story line which is why I will most likely give this one a second read. As the story picks up towards the end, I found myself losing track of small details. The game kicks off with the anonymous texter exposing Phoebe for sleeping with her sister’s boyfriend which starts a rift between the sisters who are already under strain after the death of their father. Then Knox is exposed for an unfortunate performance during what was supposed to be he and Maeve’s first time. The game turns deadly though when a fellow classmate Brandon falls to his death after deciding to take the seemingly lesser high risk dare option. You’d think that everyone would tell their parents what was going on at this point but in true teenage fashion, they don’t. Problems only escalate when the anonymous texter tries to bomb a rehearsal dinner. Yeah, apparently high school students know how to build bombs and aren’t afraid to use them. Knox and Maeve save the day and we find out that the most unlikely student was involved with the anonymous bomb maker and Brandon’s death.

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It’s really a sad story all around, all of the kids involved have had their lives ruined by some family tragedy. There’s a weird feeling of revenge not being the answer but also thinking that some people deserved what they got. Then, when you find out who was really behind the whole ordeal, it just gets even sadder. After I read these types of books, it always makes me wonder if these things are really happening in schools or if it’s just the author embellishing the sometimes irrational actions of the American teenager. Not to get real dark here but in light of some of the violence that has happened in our schools, some of these events really wouldn’t even shock me. I enjoyed the pace of the writing, the characters are fun if a little moony at times and apparently none of these kids had any homework…or parents around to pay attention to what they are doing. Even if you aren’t into the whole YA genre (which I’m not) I would still recommend both Bayview books as pretty decent thrillers. I also like the writing style of the Author, Karen M. McManus and plan to check out her recent standalone novel.

Have you read either of these, let me know what you thought!

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31 Nights of Halloween: Thinner (1996)

31 Nights of Halloween, Entertainment, Movies

This movie is not great, in fact, it’s probably one of the worst movies I have ever watched. The thing is, it’s based on one of my most-appreciated Stephen King books. It is such a fantastically creepy tale of karma meted out with old-world Gypsy magic and yet the film is just fat suits and cheap wigs. The special effects are so distractedly terrible that it’s hard to believe this was released as recently as 1996. Anyway, I still watch it most every year because I’m just a glutton for punishment.

Billy Halleck is an obnoxious, corrupt sleaze-ball lawyer who makes his scratch defending the dregs of the underworld and just happens to be obese. On the way home from celebrating a murder acquittal, he runs over a local Gypsy woman named Suzanne Lempke. While Billy does go to trial, his friends in the judicial system spare him any real punishment. Enter Tadzu, Suzanne’s father who refuses to let Billy get away with murder and curses him by simply whispering thinner. And you guessed it, Billy boy starts wasting away at an alarming rate (and for some reason starts looking reptilian). At first, he chalks it up to recent lifestyle changes but as he becomes increasingly gaunt, he knows the old man’s curse took. So, he does what any jerk trying to get away with murder does, he calls in the mob. The recently acquitted crime boss, Richie ‘The Hammer’ Ginelli goes with Billy to the gypsy camp to reason with Tadzu to no avail. Finally, Tadzu whips up a pie and tells Billy that if someone eats the pie, they will die and Billy will be spared. So he takes it home and feeds it to his wife who soon dies, unfortunately, his daughter also falls casualty to the tainted pie. Billy decides to eat the pie himself until his wife’s suspected lover shows up and we can assume from the closing shot that he ate the pie and Billy is spared.

What is the moral of this story, literally no idea. The guy killed numerous people, was still mostly an asshole by the end of the movie and overall it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth – like bloody, strawberry pie 😛 It’s poorly acted, the costumes are terrible, the script is clunky and a total disparagement of the book. Somehow, it’s just become a classic in its own terrible way. Should you watch it, yeah, it’s kind of a romp.

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Check out what else I’m watching: 31 Nights of Halloween Watch List

Fall Tag & 31 Nights of Halloween Watch List

31 Nights of Halloween, Entertainment

Call me corny but I still love a good tag and figured it would be the perfect way to kick off all of the Halloween content to come. Summer apparently isn’t going out without a fight and we’re supposed to see a high of 84 today…but I’m not letting the unseasonable weather kill my vibe!

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I love warm scents as soon as the weather turns cool; vanilla, cinnamon, balsam, camp fires, coffee and yes, even leather. I’m still off the jar candles but if I had to choose any one candle that embodies fall for me, it has to be Nature’s Wick Bonfire Nights.

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I would have to say my preference is for pumpkin stuff, I don’t associate apples with fall. I love an apple crisp at any time of year but only start reaching for pumpkin when the weather turns. Also, I have to say that my drink of choice has been the Iced Pumpkin Pie latte from Caribou, they have hands down the best pumpkin flavoring!

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The fashion! I admittedly dress like a complete slob in the summer, linen pants, cotton tops, sandals – I just cannot be bothered but come fall, you’d think I’d undergone a Devil Wears Prada make over.

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I love an overcast fall day, I spend them reading, cooking, cleaning, taking a walk through the leaves. I actually enjoy being outside more in the fall and winter than I do the summer.

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Halloween, we didn’t really do the Thanksgiving thing when I was kid – the whole genocide issue…I just find Halloween to be less problematic although, I won’t pass on stuffing.

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There’s a lot of things that I do at this time of year but getting out the flannel bedding always feels very fall-esque. I changed all of the bedding this weekend and will probably pay for it later but it feels so cozy.

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Farms and graveyards. I live in an area where the rural areas are being developed into your standard, mundane, milquetoast, American neighborhoods completely lacking in authenticity and culture. It just makes me sad to see the people who built America sell their livelihoods to software developers. As the farms sit vacant and the old homesteads are gutted, they make for some sad but poignant photos. I signed up for Find a Grave this summer, people will post graves that they are looking for and people in the area can go take photos for them. It’s really interesting and there are some beautiful graveyards in the Twin Cities.

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Back to school! I tend to get a little melancholy this time of year knowing that I will probably never set foot on another campus as a student. My university does an alumni day right about this time of year though and I always go if I can, I just love that old campus.

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Turtlenecks! Call me crazy but I think turtlenecks are the most subtly seductive piece of clothing. Plus, there are so many prints and textures available now, these ain’t your grandma’s turtlenecks.

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It depends, we have days like today where everything feels damp but it doesn’t really rain. Some seasons we get nothing but rain and the leaves turn moldy and sometimes we have those perfect, crisp falls with stunning foliage. I am hoping for the latter with just a touch of rain this year but I’m game for snow on Halloween too!

What does fall mean to you, let me know if you do this tag – I’d love to read your answers. Now, for my 31 Nights of Horror Watch List. I have not prepared a list for past years, I thought it might help me stay more organized this time around. Now, if you have not read my posts from prior years, my reviews aren’t real deep and are really just a recap of the movie/show and what I enjoyed about it. If you want really in-depth, thought provoking reviews then keep looking.

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As you will see, I am doing a mash-up of classics, family friendly movies, 90’s cheese thrillers and television series marathons. I am watching a ton of my all-time favourites but thought I would throw a little variety in this year since I’ve watched those to death. I’m excited, I hope you’ll enjoy these posts! I will be posting about decor, beauty and lifestyle as well so stay tuned. What’s on deck for your horror watch list, let me know!

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The Lost Man: A Teaser

Books

Jane Harper’s first standalone was an intense slow burn of a thriller set in the striking vastness of the outback. When I found out that this was no an Aaron Falk case, I was a bit disappointed but the characters in this novel were equally as endearing with their character flaws, secrets and histories – none more so than the man found dead of dehydration only feet away from the safety of his vehicle at the very start of the book.

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Cameron Bright is a father of two with a beautiful wife, prosperous land and seemingly the best put together of the three Bright brothers. When his older brother Nathan starts to dig deeper into the mysterious death, events from the past and the secret life of Cameron starts to unravel. On the whole, the family is shocked at the unexpected death and can’t fathom what would drive a man to walk out into the desert to his demise. There are members of the household that hint at Cameron’s unstable mental state in the days leading up to his disappearance but there are whispers of something more sinister when a woman who accused Cam of taking advantage of her in their youth makes mysterious phone calls to the house. She wasn’t believed at the time but as the adults who were there start to recount the story, we find out that there are those who did believe her and suspect that Cam’s father drove the girl out of town.

With the police reaching the conclusion that it was a suicide, Nathan, the black sheep of the family who lives in exile starts to dig into who Cam really was as an adult and what secrets his wife and kids might be keeping. It’s pretty clear from the start that he knows that his brother has demons, having been raised in an abusive household and starts to wonder just how stable he really is. What he uncovers is a history of domestic abuse, a wife with an exit plan, adultery and a murder that was committed for love.

What I love about Harper’s books is the atmosphere, being set in an environment as hostile as the outback further augments the intensity and mystery of the story-line as you never know what’s hiding out there. You could fall victim to a killer on the loose or simply getting a flat tire and getting stranded in the elements. The setting creates an urgency that can’t be sated. Her books make me want to immediately experience the vast wilderness of the outback while also never, ever setting foot there at the same time. I could not stop listening to this book, I finished it over the course of two days and was so shocked by the ending that I had to go back and listen to it a second time to see if I missed anything. Even though this is a standalone, there are some references to her debut novel The Dry that I felt were very clever and helped to flesh out some of the character’s stories. It’s a fantastic book, the ending was tragic and unsettling but poetic in its own right. I’m sure that the book is just as good read but if you have a chance to listen to the audio version, Stephen Shanahan is awesome. I loved it, I will listen to it again and again. Have you read any of Harper’s novels? What’s your fave? I think mine is The Dry followed by this one with Force of Nature coming in last but still being very good!

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February Reads

Books

How’s your February going? Sticking to all of those New Year resolutions? Me neither, mostly because I didn’t make any, I’m just making small talk 😛 I haven’t been listening to a lot of books recently and can’t believe that I haven’t even started a single book this month! I usually don’t have an issue with listening to books since I can still do most anything while enjoying one but I just haven’t done it. February is packed with new releases from some of my favorite authors, I have a few books that I plan to make time for this month.

The Lost Man – Jane Harper: This is a standalone thriller, I really enjoy the Aaron Falk character but am still excited to revisit the Outback with some new characters. A husband and father of two is found dead in the elements, the reason for his demise is not immediately known.

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Redemption Point – Candace Fox: This is Fox’s second book featuring disgraced detective Ted Conkaffey. When we left Conkaffey at Crimson Lake, there were hints that his innocence could substantiated, I can’t wait to see what happens next and what case he and his bizarre partner are working on. I have been waiting for this book for ages, it finally comes out in March so I guess this will be on my March TBR as well.

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The Reckoning – Yrsa Sigurdardottir: I got hooked on this author’s moody, atmospheric thrillers and though the Children’s House series is a bit of a departure, the first installment was insane. I hope this book fleshes out some of the characters that we met in the first book, I have no doubt that the plot will be awesome.

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The Stranger Beside Me – Ann Rule: Not to jump on the Bundy bandwagon but after finishing the Netflix documentary my curiosity is piqued. I better limit this one to listening only at work otherwise, I’ll be up for for days like the time I listened to a Manson family book.

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I think I can get through these (minus the March release) before the end of the month, I just downloaded The Lost Man and forgot what a fantastic narrator Stephen Shanahan is! Let me know what’s on your list or what books you’ve been loving lately!

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