Thursday, April 30, 2020

TV Show: Atypical

Just finished watching Season 3
Season 4 coming in 2021
Premiered: August 11, 2017
Number of Episodes: 38
Length of Episode: 30 minutes
IMBd:  8.3
RT Critic's Consensus:  Great performances and a likable, realistic family dealing with autism lift Atypical above its alarming tonal shifts and predictability.
RT Audience Score:  73/96
cag: Loved it a lot

Sam Gardner- Keir Gilchrist
Casey Gardner- Brigette Lundy-Paine
Mom/Elsa Gardner- Jennifer Jason Leigh
Dad/Doug Gardner (an EMT) - Michael Rapaport
Zahid, Sam's best friend
Evan, Casey's boyfriend
Izzey, Casey's girlfriend
Paige, Sam's girlfriend

My comments:  This great ensemble cast follows the lives of two sibling, the older brother Sam, who is autistic, and the just-younger sister, Casey, who is smart and sassy.  The first season follows Sam through his senior year in hight school and then progresses to college, as we also watch Casey's love live and friendships become huge questions for her.  At the same time, the parent are reeling from an infidelity that may break them up.  I love Sam's obsession with penguins and his artistic ability, his over-the-top quirky girlfriend, and Sam's best friend Zahid.  I really feel for Evan, and have enjoyed this actor's performance a lot.

Storyline from Rotten Tomatoes:  Atypical is a coming of age story that follows Sam (played by Keir Gilchrist), a 19-year-old on the autism spectrum as he searches for love and independence. While Sam is on his funny and emotional journey of self-discovery, the rest of his family must grapple with change in their own lives as they all struggle with the ongoing central theme of the series: what does it really mean to be normal?

Season 1:  Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the autism spectrum, tells his overprotective family that he wants to start dating. His father Doug (Michael Rapaport) is at first enthusiastic and encouraging until he discovers that the girl Sam wanted to date is his much-older therapist Julia Sasaki (Amy Okuda). Realizing that her boy is finally growing up, Sam's mother Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) finds herself at loss with what to do and tumbles into an affair with a bartender, Nick (Raul Castillo). Sam's younger sister Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) lands an athletic scholarship at a prestigious but faraway high school. However, she hesitates to take the scholarship, believing that her leaving will negatively affect Sam. The first season of "Atypical" also stars Nik Dodani as Sam's best friend Zahid, Jenna Boyd as Sam's pretend girlfriend Paige, Graham Rogers as Casey's boyfriend Evan, and Rachel Redleaf as Evan's sister Beth.

Season 2:  Casey Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) leaves for her new high school and befriends Izzie (Fivel Stewart), the track team captain. However, this newfound friendship threatens Casey's relationship with Evan (Graham Rogers). Sam (Keir Gilchrist) copes with Casey's leaving through drawing; he is also unable to find a new therapist he could be comfortable with the way he was with Julia (Amy Okuda). Sam's guidance counselor, Ms. Whitaker (Casey Wilson), discovers Sam's drawings and encourages him to apply to university. Doug (Michael Rapaport) learns about Elsa's (Jennifer Jason Leigh) affair and makes her leave the house. However, the stress of housework makes Doug relent and allow Elsa to come back home, though he keeps his distance out of resentment. The second season of "Atypical" also stars Nik Dodani as Sam's best friend Zahid and Jenna Boyd as Sam's pretend girlfriend Paige.

Season 3:  In season three, Sam starts his first year of college and is faced with the challenge of figuring out what success means for him, while adjusting to the changes that come with growing up. Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as his mother, Elsa, who continues her own journey of self-discovery as her children grow older and more independent, Michael Rapaport plays his father, Doug, and Brigette Lundy-Paine plays Sam's sister, Casey. Recurring this season are Sara Gilbert as Sam's new Ethics professor, and Eric McCormack as his art professor.

71. Almost Midnight by Paul Doiron

#10 Mike Bowditch
listened on Audible
narrated by Henry Leyva
Unabridged audio (9:02)
2019 Minotaur Books
310 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery/Series
Finished 4-30-20
Goodreads rating:  4.10 - 1660 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting:  contemporary Maine

First line/s:  "I passed the morgue's meat wagon on my way up the hill to the prison."

My comments:  "My life would never be the same, I realized.  Why do we always come to these recognitions too late?"  Those are the very last words in this book, after he had uncrated Shadow into his acre and a half pen.  But so much had happened that it was hard to tell exactly what he was referring to, thou it seems it would be about how he had figured out how to allow the wolf to live out the rest of his life?  This was an interesting story with Billy Kronk and the Maine prison system being front and center, with Mike tracking down Shadow's shooter being the other half.  It was fascinating to read about the tiny community of Amish in the mountains of Maine.

Goodreads synopsis:  In this thrilling entry in Edgar Award finalist Paul Doiron's bestselling series, the death of Maine's last wild wolf leads Game Warden Mike Bowditch to an even bigger criminal conspiracy.
          Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch already has a troubling mystery on his hands: finding the archer who mortally wounded Maine’s only wild wolf. Then he learns his best friend, Billy Cronk, has been released from prison after heroically defending a female guard from a stabbing. Mike comes to believe the assault was orchestrated by a wider criminal conspiracy. When the conspirators pursue Billy's wife and children to a “safe" cabin in the woods, Mike rushes to their defense only to find himself outnumbered, outgunned―and maybe out of options.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

TV Show: Normal People

Just finished watching Season 1 on the day it premiered on HULU
Premiered: 4/29/2020
Season: 1
Number of Episodes: 12
Length of Episode: 30 minutes
IMBd: 8.8
RT Critic's Consensus:  Anchored by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal vulnerable performances, Normal People is at once intimate and illuminating, beautifully translating the nuances of its source material.
RT Audience Score:  100%
cag: 3
from the book by Sally Rooney and produced by HULU

Characters:  Marianne & Connell

My comments:  What did I just watch?  Why?  Many conflicting feelings.  Although extremely depressing at times and without a happily every after ending, I couldn't stop watching.  Four and a half years in the lives of two Irish young adults, from the end of high school through four years at Trinity College.  Okay, the two protagonists had an incredible amount of chemistry and the steaminess of their connection was quite something.  But it was very inconsistent.  She went from a don't-tread-on-me-I-don't-give-a-shit person to a dump anything-on-me-I'll-take-it-because-I'm-worthless person.  WHAT?  from an introvert to an extrovert-of-sorts overnight  I'm sorry it's over, I needed more resolution, and it definitely left me feeling deflated, sad, depressed and somewhat empty.  I feel like slapping them both in the face and saying, "Snap out of it."  GREAT ACTING.

Storyline from IMBd:  Follows Marianne and Connell, from different backgrounds but the same small town in Ireland, as they weave in and out of each other's romantic lives.

Monday, April 27, 2020

70. Alien's Bride by Yamila Abraham

Book #1
listened via Audible Escape
narrated by Rose DeMarco
Unabridged audio (2:48)
2013 self-published
62 pgs.
Adult Steamy SciFi Romane
Finished 4/27/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.27 - 520 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:  2000 yrs in the future, on a spaceship

First line/s:  "When I woke up this morning I thought I was still in Botswana."

My comments:  This novella length story appears to be the first in a series of three that takes place about 200 years in the future, where a race of aliens now controls earth.  Maritza was kidnapped from the 21-st century and fast forwarded to this time to become the bride and baby factory for one of the most powerful lords of the alien society.  This tells for her plight, and her attraction to the alien Lord.  It leaves us after about 2 1/2 hours discovering that her new husband, who has been kind, gentle, and a little bit sly with her, might be a malevolent leader.  Quite interesting premise.  There's about 10 minutes of eroticism, but the rest of it is a story of world building and speculation.

Goodreads synopsis:  Kind-hearted Maritza is transported thousands of years into the future to be a bride for one of the malevolent aliens who has conquered earth.
          A sci-fi romance adventure for adults only! 22,600 word installment.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

69. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

listened to andio borrowed through Bosler Library
narrated by Tiya Sircar and Michael Crouch
Unabridged audio (10:57)
2020 Balzer & Bray
436 pgs.
Finished 4/26/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.88 - 7299 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting: Contemporary summer in Georgia

First line/s:  " 'Oranges don't have nipples,' said Sophie."

My comments:  Super mixed feelings right now after finishing listening to this book.  There are two major concepts presented - both of which are triggers for me: the differences between liberal and conservative thinking, and deep-seeded cultural thoughts about religion that so goes against my grain,  Set in Georgia during the summer months between their junior and senior years, Jamie and Maya worked diligently for a Democratic campaign as they also fall in love.  It was hard for me to really like or even "get" May  because her thoughts - which were in her voice every other chapter - and her actions, which were in Jamie's voice every other chapter, just didn't seem to mesh at all.  I guess that's probably because two different authors wrote this and it just didn't seem like some of the responses to each others thoughts and actions meshed.  And Jamie seemed almost too good/nice to be true ALL THE TIME!  And how many kids would be allowed to hang out in the patio section of Target all the time for huge long periods?  Come on!  Lots of good stuff here, but lots of not-so-good stuff, too.

Goodreads synopsis:  New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

TV Show - The I-Land

Premiered:  Sept. 12, 2019
Season 1 (and not renewed)
Number of Episodes:  7
Length of Episode:
IMBd:  4.5
RT Critic's Consensus:  Bafflingly bad, the only mystery is how The I-Land got made in the first place.
RT Audience Score:  8 / 34
cag:  1
Produced by: Netflix

My comments:  The reviews for this were absolutely horrible.  And they were RIGHT!  What a mess. They decided to include as much grimness and ruthlessness as possible.  There were endless scenes...any, entire episodes, that didn't even take place on the island that were a total and complete waste of time and talent.  In the hands of decent writers this could've been a lot of fun, but it was a total waste of time and money.  SPOILER SYNOPSIS:  Ten inmates from a Texan penitentiary death row are put into a simulation on a supposedly deserted island, without their memories, and then hatefully kill and maim each other under the guise of nature vs. nurture experimentation.  An interesting premise that went nowhere but down....

Storyline from IMBdWhen ten people wake up on a treacherous island with no memory of who they are and how they got there, they set off on a trek to try to get back home, only to discover the world is not as it seems.

68. The Pretending Plot by Lauren Blakely

listened on Audible Escape
narrated by Joe Arden and Vanessa Edwin
Unabridged audio (4:33)
2020 Little Dog Press
202 pgs.
Adult romance
Finished 4/25/20
Goodreads rating:  3.91 - 422 ratings
My rating:  3

First line/s:  "The handcuffs snapped closed."

My comments:  I do enjoy these fake fiance/boyfriend/girlfriend/mail order bride tomes, no matter how bad they are, and most of them are pretty bad....  This was apparently one of Lauren Blakely's first, originally a novella, and she has recently rewritten and added to.  It's still pretty short.  I was put off by the female narrator.  I think perhaps she's American trying to speak with a British accent, but it just didn't work for me at all.  And there was was too much about her stupid chihuahua that she called The Artful Dodger. Glad it was a quick read because I don't think I would have finished it if it had been much longer than four hours.  Also hard to believe that a 28-year-old woman would be in the casting director position of authority as was Sutton.  Sutton and Reeve...a little pretentious much?

Goodreads synopsis:  A delicious and all new reimagining of Lauren Blakely's original fake fiancĂ© romance!  All preorder proceeds go to Australian fire relief!
          I don't mean to just blurt it out. "Why, yes I'm engaged!"
          But once I say it to a potential client, there's only one logical thing to do -- cast the role of my fake fiancĂ©.
          Easy enough. As a casting director, my job is to find the most talented players for every part, so I choose dreamy, edgy, sexy, sarcastic Reeve.And I sign him up for one week in the role of mine.
          It's not as if I'll fall for him in five nights even if we get a little cozy one night at theater. It's not as if I'll want more even after a scorching afternoon in the stacks of the New York Public Library.
        I can't let myself fall because on Friday at midnight the curtain drops on our fake romance . . .

The Pretending Plot is a reimagining of the 2013 story Pretending He's Mine (no longer available for sale). The Pretending Plot has been rewritten in first person and expanded from a novella to novel length!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

67. The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

#3 Truly Devious
Listened to Audio on Libby, borrowed from Bosler
narrated by Kate Rudd
Unabridged audio (8:36)
2020 Katherine Tegen Books
369 pgs.
YA Mystery
Finished 4/23/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.23 - 18,193 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: 1936 and contemporary Vermont boarding school, winter

First line/s:  "The snow had been falling for hours, drifting past the windows, settling on the sill, following little landscapes that mimicked the mountains in the distance. Albert Ellingham sat on an overstuffed chair covered in plum-colored velvet."

My comments:  This third and final installment in an ongoing mystery nicely wrapped up any questions about the two murder mysteries, 1936 and current time, in a satisfying way.  This whole three-book-series was a little too drawn out, I'm sure it could've been condensed satisfactorily, but both books one and two were left with big cliffhangers and that couldn't have been done if this was made into one very long book.  I had to keep forcing myself to go back to listen, even though I did want to find out what the outcome was.  The 1936 - 1938 parts weren't half as interesting to me as the contemporary bits, but no matter.  I didn't really like the narrator's voice for the protagonist, not enough inflection to flat, which changed my perception of her personality.

Goodreads synopsis:  Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .
          She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.
          At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.
          Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.
          In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.
          New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Recipe - Cornbread Casserole

1 can whole kernel corn
1 can cream corn
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix together all ingredients.  Put into casserole dish.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 25 minutes. 
NOTE:  I've noticed that sometimes it needs five minutes more.

Recipe - Mac & Cheese Lasagna

1 pkg. Kraft macaroni
     3 T. butter & 3 T. milk
1/2 lb. cooked chicken
1 1/2 c. spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 T  parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare mac & cheese as directed on package.  Add chicken, spaghetti sauce, and mozzarella. 

Pour into lightly greased 8-inch square casserole dish.

Sprinkle with parmesan.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes.

Recipe - Broccoli Stuffing Bake

2 pkgs. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1 can cream soup (I use cream of mushroom)
1 pkg. stovetop stuffing
salt & pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix together all but the cheese.
Put into a 2-quart greased cassserole dish

Sprinkls with cheese.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Recipe - Bacon in the Oven

I've found the best way to bake crispy delicious bacon.

Turn the oven on to 360 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Usually about a half pound of bacon covers my sheet without touching each other.  The hardest part is pulling apart the strips apart!

I put the sheet into the middle of the oven as soon as I've got it ready.  Usually the oven is still getting hot.

I put the timer on for 20 minutes.  Depending on the thickness of the bacon, when the timer dings it's perfect.

I drain on paper towels.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Streamed Movies

*6*  Awesome
5  Loved it
4  Liked it a lot
3  Liked it
2  It was okay
                                                                          1  Nope

During the Quarantine of 2020 I've decided to watch a movie or two, starting out by looking for "feel good" and "stupid but humorous" titles.  So I've decided to start a list (alphebeitacl list at the bottom):

6 Awesome  
Marriage Story (Netflix) 2019 Drama - Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansen blow it out of the water

5 Loved It
The Yellow Handkerchief  (Hulu) 2008 Drama - William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart,  Eddie Redmayne - bittersweet road trip right-up-my-alley movie

4:  Interesting/Liked it a Lot

Big Time Adolescence (Hulu) 2019 Teenager grows up with an older best friend (Pete Davidson) who's not a great influence...5/2020
No Strings Attached (Amazon Prime) 2011 Comedy - Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman hook up, really fun!
One of Us - 2017 Documentary (Netflix) about leaving Hasidic Judaism and its difficulties
She's Out of My League (Amazon Prime) 2010 Comedy #10 Female becomes interested in a #5 guy

3:  Liked it/ Cute
Ali's Wedding  (Netflix)- 2017 Comedy about a Muslim cleric's son and his love life in a family that believes in arranged marriages.
The Escort (Hulu) 2016 "Desperate for a good story, a sex-addidcted journalist throws himself into the world of high-class escorts when he starts following a Stanford-educated prostitute." 5/22/20
Good Sam (Netflix) Female reporter fo,mows a Good Samaritan that leaves bags of money at doorsteps
The Half of It (Netflix) 2020 Coming of Age. Small town Chinese American nerdy girl writes term papers for 20 bucks a pup, ends up writing love letters for smitten boy when she herself really likes the girl the letters are written for. 5/8/2020
Little Italy (Amazon Prime) 2018 Comedy about two kids from a close-knit neighborhood (and rival pizza families) reuniting after five years of going their own ways mazon Prime) Comedy about two kids from a close-knit neighborhood (and rival pizza families) reuniting after five years of going their own ways
Love the Coopers (Netflix) 2005 Comedy about a large dysfunctional family at Christmas (Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde, Timothee Chalamet (5/10/2020)
The Matchbreaker (Prime) 2016 Young man begins breaking up couples for disgruntled parents. 
Runaway Romance (Prime) 2018 Really crappy movie where a reality star runs away to an Amish farm in Kentucky to hide from her tv boyfriend.
Spencer Confidential (Netflix)  Based on Wonderland, love Mark Wahlberg, but he's no Spenser, and they've taken LOTS of Spenser liberties! (3/14/2020)

Alphabetical List
Ali's Wedding  (Netflix)- 2017 Comedy about a Muslim cleric's son and his love life in a family that believes in arranged marriages. (3)
Big Time Adolescence (Hulu) 2019 Teenager grows up with an older best friend (Pete Davidson) who's not a great influence... (4) 5/2020
The Escort (Hulu) 2016 "Desperate for a good story, a sex-addidcted journalist throws himself into the world of high-class escorts when he starts following a Stanford-educated prostitute." (3.5) 5/22/20
Good Sam (Netflix) Female reporter follows a Good Samaritan that leaves bags of money at doorsteps (3)
The Half of It (Netflix) 2020 Coming of Age. Small town Chinese American nerdy girl writes term papers for 20 bucks a pup, ends up writing love letters for smitten boy when she herself really likes the girl the letters are written for. (3) 5/8/2020
Little Italy (Amazon Prime) 2018 Comedy about two kids from a close-knit neighborhood (and rival pizza families) reuniting after five years of going their own ways. (3)
Love the Coopers (Netflix) 2005 Comedy about a large dysfunctional family at Christmas (Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde, Timothee Chalamet (3) (5/10/2020)
Marriage Story (Netflix) 2019 Drama - Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansen blow it out of the water! (6)
The Matchbreaker (Prime) 2016 Young man begins breaking up couples for disgruntled parents.  (3)
No Strings Attached (Amazon Prime) 2011 Comedy - Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman hook up, really fun! (4)
One of Us - 2017 Documentary (Netflix) about leaving Hasidic Judaism and its difficulties (4)
Runaway Romance (Prime) 2018 Really crappy movie where a reality star runs away to an Amish farm in Kentucky to hide from her tv boyfriend. (1)
She's Out of My League (Amazon Prime) 2010 Comedy #10 Female becomes interested in a #5 guy (4)
Spencer Confidential (Netflix)  Based on Wonderland, love Mark Wahlberg, but he's no Spenser, and they've taken LOTS of Spenser liberties! (3/14/2020) (3)
Yellow Handkerchief, The  (Hulu) 2008 Drama - William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart,  Eddie Redmayne - bittersweet road trip right-up-my-alley movie (5)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

TV Show - The Politician

Just finished watching Season 1
Premiered:  9/27/2019 on Netflix
Season 1
Number of Episodes: 8
Length of Episode:
IMBd: 7.5
RT Critic's Consensus: While The Politician can't uphold all of its tantalizing promises, it delivers just enough soapy satire in a sumptuous setting to keep Ryan Murphy fans invested -- though its unlikely to win him many new votes.
RT Audience Score: 86 (57 Critics)
cag: Liked it a lot
Wikipedia information

Payton Hobart - Ben Platt, adopted rich boy
Georgina Hobart - Payton's loving mom (Gwyneth Paltrow)
River Barkley - Payton's Mandarin coach and friend (who commits suicide in Episode one or two, but conitinues as his "conscience" throughout the season)
Infinity Jackson - The girl who becomes his running mate, whose grandmother is poisoning her and who thinks she has cancer
Dusty Jackson  - Infinity's nana (Jessica Lange)
Ricardo - Infinity's boyfriend
Astrid Sloan - River's girlfriend and Payton's ultimate rival
McAfee and James - Payton's close friends and "advisors"
Alice Charles - Payton's girlfriend
Skye Leighton - Black LBGTQ chick who keeps showing up and is nasty, goes from opponent to running partner to almost-assassin

My comments:  Per Ashley's suggestion, I started watching this today and ended up binge-watching all eight episodes in one sitting.  It was funny, sad, eyeball-rolling, irreverent, goofy, well acted, and wonderfully enjoyable.  It also had an incredible cast of characters from Ben Platt and Gwyneth Paltrow to Dermot Mulroney and Jessica Lange, with Judith Light and Bette Midler tossed into episode eight (to be full timers on season two, I hope!) Episodes one through seven are set in Santa Barbara, California in the homes of the exceedingly rich, while episode 8 is set in NYc.  I liked it a lot.  Season two is supposed to come out somewhere in 2020, being about Payton's New York State Senate  run against the current popular senator played by Judith Light (who happen to be in a three-way marriage, lol!)

Storyline from IMDbPayton Hobart, a student from Santa Barbara, has known since age seven that he's going to be President of the United States. But first he'll have to navigate the most treacherous political landscape of all: Saint Sebastian High School.

From Wikipedia:  The first season is set at the fictional Saint Sebastian High School in Santa BarbaraCalifornia. Payton Hobart is running for student body president against the popular and athletic River Barkley. Payton, under the direction of his ambitious friends McAfee Westbrook, James Sullivan, and Alice Charles, chooses Infinity Jackson, a cancer patient and victim of Munchausen by Proxy disorder, to be his vice-president. Meanwhile, River, under the direction of his girlfriend Astrid Sloan, chooses Skye Leighton, a gender-nonconforming black classmate, to be his vice-president.

Friday, April 17, 2020

66. Impossible by Komal Kant

listened to audio via Audible Escape
narrated by Lidia Dornet and Graham Halstead
Unabridged audio (7:21)
2012 Createspace
254 pgs.
YA Romance - and not a good one....
Finished 4/17/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.70- 6538 ratings
My rating:  2
Setting:  contemporary usa

First line/s:  " 'I bet a hundred dollars he smells like a rat-infested sewer,' my best friend, Kance said from beside me, her voice thick with disgust."

My comments:  Over-the-top mean girl becomes nice girl in a bizarrely too-impossible ridiculous way.  Emo boy becomes super-hunk overnight.  High school kids flit from hooking up to being part of a ocouple back=and=forth, back-and-forth... A pair of moms that are ridiculously permissive.  If you want to read a story that keeps your eyes rolling from beginning to end, this is the perfect book for you!  I am being really kind giving this a "2" rating.

Goodreads synopsis:  Ashton Summers is on her way to becoming the most popular girl in school and nothing—or no one—is going to stand in her way. Especially not Luca Byron, her freak neighbor, with his tattoos, loud music, and distracting green eyes.
          Luca Byron has three goals in life: get through high school with a low profile, make sure his garage band becomes something more than a hobby, and try to forget about his insufferable ex-best friend, Ashton, who he can’t get out of his mind.
          The last thing Ashton and Luca want to do is rekindle their friendship, but when Ashton takes a tumble down the social ladder, Luca—with his new makeover—is the only one who can help her rise up again by pretending to be her boyfriend. At first, being together is unbearable and annoying, but things start to change as Ashton and Luca discover the real reasons they drifted apart seven years ago.
          Now, keeping their hands off each other seems impossible.

TV Show - The Stranger

Just finished watching Season 1, which wrapped up the story completely, I don't think there'll be another season
Premiered:  1/30/2020
Season: 1 (and only)
Number of Episodes: 8
Length of Episode: 42 minutes
IMBd: 7.4
RT Critic's Consensus: If not quite as addicting as its source material, The Stranger has a strong cast and enough tension to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
RT Audience Score:  83%
cag: Liked it a lot, binge watched in one day....
Produced by: Netflix

Characters: The Price family:  Father Adam, Mother Corinne, Sons Thomas and Brian
The cops:  Johanna Griffin and her inept (for the most part) sidekick, Wesley Ross
The bad guy:  Cop & father, John Katz
The neighbors:  Tripp and his son, Michael
The ex-cop who wouldn't sell or leave his condemned property:  Martin Killaine (Stephen Rea)
Adam Price's unscrupulous father
Johanna Griffin's best friend and first to be murdered, Heidi

My comments:  Harlan Coben never disappoints!  This interesting story, with a multitude of side-events and happenings, kept me interested and enthralled.  A few of the premises didn't quite work (why was Corinne so reluctant to inform Adam of what was going on, and her intense reaction didn't fit) and (why would Adam go so willingly with Tripp at the end AND why would Tripp tell all with Adam standing there with a gun) to mention just a couple. It's certainly the type of show that I enjoy, and I look forward to more of Coben's work, this one set in England.

Storyline from IMBd:  Based on Harlan Coben's novel of the same name, the series will follow Adam Price, who seems to be living the perfect life - two great sons, a watertight marriage - until a stranger approaches him at a bar and reveals a shocking secret about Price's wife, Corinne.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

TV Show - Bonding

Just finished watching Season 1
Premiered: 4/24/2019
Season: 1, Season 2 has begun filming(apparently Jan. 2020)
Number of Episodes: 7
Length of Episode: 12 - 18 minutes each (VERY short_
IMBd:  7.2
RT Critic's Consensus:  Though Bonding's juicy spin on friendship and sexuality boldly treads into uncharted territory, the show's writing too often teeters uncomfortably between bewitchingly funny and bewilderingly underwhelming to make it a truly satisfying experience.
RT Audience Score:  71%
cag:  5/Loved it
Produced by: Netflix

Characters:  Tiff/Mistress May: Zoe Levin
                       Pete/  : Brendan Scannell
                       Josh (Pete's boyfriend) Theo Stockman
                       Doug (Tiff's possible boyfriend):  Micah Stock

My comments:  What a hoot!  Loved it....great actors, funny as hell, and it portrayed some really interesting relationships.

Storyline from IMBdA New York City grad student moonlighting as a dominatrix enlists her gay BFF from high school to be her assistant.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

65. Fire in His Blood - Ruby Dixon

Listened to on Audible Escape
narrated by  Noelle Bridges and Jeremy York
Unabridged audio (11:28)
331 pgs.
Adult Steamy SciFi Dystopia
Finished 4/15/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.80 - 7928 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting:  Dystopian Dallas TX

First line/s:  "As far as jail cells go, this one's pretty decent."

My comments:  This 12-hour book could've easily been told in six, there was so much repetition of the same old anxieties and worries and passionate scenes.  The story itself was quite fascinating: shape shifting dragons who have come through a crack in the world, and in that span unable to return to their world, have more or less gone mad.  Therefore they attack with mighty fire everything in their path.  The world as humans know it is now forever changed and that's where the story starts, in the desolate poverty-stricken area that is left of Dallas.  The story is mostly told by Claudia, with a few chapters in the dragon-man's voice.  Not a bad story all-in-all, jut too much of it!

Goodreads synopsis:  Years ago, the skies ripped open and the world was destroyed in fire and ash. Dragons - once creatures of legend - are the enemy. Vicious and unpredictable, they rule the skies of the ruined cities, forcing humanity to huddle behind barricades for safety.
          Claudia's a survivor. She scrapes by as best as she can in a hard, dangerous world. When she runs afoul of the law, she's left as bait in dragon territory. She only has one chance to survive - to somehow 'tame' a dragon and get it to obey her.
          Except the dragon that finds her is as wild and brutal as any other...and he's not interested in obeying.
          What he is interested in is a mate.

Monday, April 13, 2020

63. A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

#1 Veronica Speedwell
listened via Audible
narrated by Angele Masters
Unabridged audio (10:51)
2016 Berkley Books
339 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction Mystery
Finished 4/13/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.97 - 20,224 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting:  1887 England

First line/s:  "I stared down into the open grave and wished I could have summoned a tear."

My comments:  When I first began reading this book, I thought our protagonist, Veronica Stillwell, was going to be a prudish snob.  Oh my goodness, was I mistaken.  It is around 1890, and she is a strong, opinionated, extremely smart feminist.  And once she teams up with Stoker, following them from one far-fetched adventure to the next is an absolute  blast.  These include pretending they are married so that they can join a traveling circus where he can throw knives at her, trying to solve the murder of his very dear friend, sharing their interests in the  natural world, and eluding the bad guys who even throw them into the Thames River.  The entire story was totally satisfying, incredibly funny,and completely endearing.  It was read beautifully by Angele Masters...and there are four more to go, yippee!

Goodreads synopsis:  London, 1887.
          After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.
          But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth

Ella's Flower Garden Hexie Quilt

Let's watch this sucker grow!
4/13/2020 This is where I left off a couple of years ago - 66 flowers joined.

4/14/2020  77 flowers

4/15/2020 84 flowers

4/17/2020 100 flowers and now a rectangle!

4/22/2020  130 flowers, my fingers are sore, but it's looking GOOD!  When I compare where I was and what it looked like nine days ago, I'm ecstatic!

4/27/2020 148 flowers, another row increasing width to 11 rows wide.

5/1/2020 160 flowers, adding a double row to the length, making it 15 flowers for the longest outside strip.... It's getting harder to photograph.

5/15/20 I think I finished the top...Ella, layed down with it and said it's perfect...let's hope so!  190 flowers total.

Now, how to finish it?

Sunday, April 12, 2020

63. Lauren's Barbarian by Ruby Dixon

#1 Icehome
listened on Audible Escape
narrated by Felicity Monroe & Sean Crisden
Unabridged audio (8:24)
2017 Independently published
280 pgs.
SciFi Steamy Romance
Finished 4/12/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.08 - 5045 ratings
My rating:  3.5/4

First line/s:  "A lush, tropical island on an icy planet makes no sense."

My comments:  A new group of ladies has landed on the ice planet.  Lauren is one of 20, and somehow gets set adrift, with her friend Marisol, while unconscious, in a pod for an unknown amount of time.  She is found by one of the planet's blue aliens, a four-armed guy with camouflaging abilities of a different, although related, clan to the blue aliens she's (and we) have come to know.  And they resonate.  She has drifted to a volcanic island which is very, very different from the "other side" of the ice planet, full of trees, and very warm.  However, she soon realizes that the volcano isn't dormant, and that the next time it blows it will exterminate everything and anyone left on the island. One of the best part of this book was that they couldn't understand a word each other said until nearly the very end.  Fun.
           There's lots of story in this interesting addition to the good old Barbarians' tales.  But of course Ms Dixon feels the need for the occasional XXX rated steamy scene.  As far as I'm concerned they are unnecessary, I think this book stands on its own as pretty decent storytelling without that aspect.
           There are two different readers in the Ice Planet Barbarians series, and this had different readers.  Although the male reader's voice is just as deep as the previous reader, I actually like the way he narrates better.

Goodreads synopsis:  A lush, tropical island on an icy planet makes no sense.
          Then again, not much makes sense anymore after waking up and finding myself not in bed but on a strange world populated by aliens. Since that moment, I’ve learned that nothing is normal anymore and I’ve got to roll with the punches. I can handle this, though. I’m strong and capable.
          So… washed up on a tropical island? Got it handled.
          Separated from the others in my group? Handled.
          Stranded alone with a brutal but delicious alien man that can’t speak English but has great… ahem… body language? Yup, handled.
          Add in the fact that my cootie – a symbiont I need to survive – has chosen my big, hulking alien friend as my fated mate? Let’s just say that the situation isn’t the only thing that’s going to be handled.
          But it isn’t long before I learn that the tropical island paradise is a death trap and we’re all in grave danger, aliens and humans alike. To survive this, I'll need my tempting guy to give me a hand with the situation… good thing he's got four of them.
          This romance features all of the adventure, humor and community you’ve come to expect in the Ice Planet Barbarians series, but it stands on its own. You do not need to read the other series (or be caught up) in order to read LAUREN'S BARBARIAN.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

62. The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan

Listened on Audible
narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal  (who is excellent, does different voices really well)
Unabridged audio (8:56)
2020 Lake Union Publishing
285 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 4/9/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.71 - 3802 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Chicago suburb

My comments:  An intense look at a family that hits you from all different directions.  Solid setting in a Chicago suburb.  Excellent reader (she does different voices really well).  Two parents nearing the end of divorce proceedings.  A sweet 10-year-old daughter who has spent her life dealing with a debilitating series of food allergies.  A grandmother who fiercely protects her adopted daughter.  A just-discovered aunt, full of love and family history and her own extended family including Indian husband, black foster daughter, and 90-year-old best friend.  Throw in a bridal boutique for older women, a school board election, a woo-woo hippie doctor, and even a tiny bit of online dating and've set the scene for a very interesting story.  Quite memorable.

Goodreads synopsis:  From the bestselling author of Digging In comes a witty and moving novel about motherhood, courage, and finding true family.
          With a dissolving marriage, strained finances, and her life in flux, Ally Anderson longs for normal. Her greatest concerns, though, are the health problems of her young daughter, Kylie. Symptoms point to a compromised immune system, but every doctor they’ve seen has a different theory. Then comes hope for some clarity.
          It’s possible that Kylie’s illness is genetic, but Ally is adopted. A DNA test opens up an entirely new path. And where it leads is a surprise: to an aunt Ally never knew existed. She’s a little wild, very welcoming, and ready to share more of the family history than Ally ever imagined.
          Coping with a skeptical soon-to-be-ex husband, weathering the cautions of her own resistant mother, and getting maddeningly close to the healing Kylie needs, Ally is determined to regain control of her life. This is her chance to embrace uncertainty and the beauty of family—both the one she was born into and the one she chose.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

61. Water World Warrior by Lisa Lace

#1 TerraMates
Listened on Audible Escape (I think)
narrated by Addison Spear and Terrance Bayes
Unabridged audio (5:28)
2015 Toppings Publishing
267 pgs.
Adult Sci Fi Romance/Alien Mail Order Bride
Finished 4/8/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.53 - 854 ratings
My rating: 3.5 (not quite a 4)

First line/s:  "The wind whipped the sails of our ship, and we barely held our course."

My comments:  Well, for a sci-fi mail order bride romance, this wasn't bad at all.  It takes place on a water planet where only a few of the physical characteristics of the aliens are different - they have film that goes over their eyes so they can swim underwater with their eyes open for great distances, and they have underwater breathing "gills" so they can swim for indefinite amounts of time.  It was pretty decent world*building and this one had characters that had a bit of depth.  Oh yes, the usual misunderstandings and incorrect second-guessing, but not the  steamy XXX-rated crapola that so many of these mail order bride romances contain.  Just a little, and in the right places, and not until at least 2/3 of the book is behind you.  Quite entertaining, actually.  Not a four, but a good, solid three and a half.

Goodreads synopsis:  Why would I want to be married to an alien?
          I should not have applied to TerraMates. The idea was crazy. I'm a young woman, in the prime of my life.
          But I was desperate.
          When I landed on another world, his appearance intrigued me. He dripped sexuality and moved like an animal. We have three days together before he sets sail without me. Am I going to escape or submit to my desires?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

60. The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Listened to audio on Libby borrowed from Bosler Library
narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune
Unabridged audio (9:35)
2019 Quercus
400 pgs.
Adult RomCom
Finished April 7, 2020
Goodreads rating:  4.13 - 66,701 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting:  Contemporary England, small city....

First line/s:  "You've got to say this for desperation: It makes you much more open-minded."

My comments: This has been on hold for many months with a long waiting list and I was greatly anticipating it.  It didn't disappoint.  Yes, it was humorous and well written, it had fantastic protagonists with their own silly quirks, one an extrovert and one an introvert.  But it also had some serious themes as well.  An ex-boyfriend with serious issues, an innocent brother in prison, and patients in Hospice, where Leon worked as a nurse.  For at least half of the book the two protagonists shared a flat without ever seeing each other, never knowing what each other looked like, but getting to know each other almost intimately by leaving lots and lots of post-it notes back-and-forth.  Very cleverly and satisfyingly done.  Not a steamy romance , but with its own kind of tension and build-up.  Of course it has the prerequisite friends, in this case three of them -  one being a lawyer and one being a psychologist.  It does not hurt the plot, LOL, or take away from me giving it five stars, but it probably should (snort, snort).  I enjoyed the book greatly in the midst of this quarantined pandemic as I EPPed my fingers raw.

Goodreads synopsis:  Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.
          After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.
          Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.
          Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.
          But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you've never met.
          What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O'Leary's The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

59. Lost Girls: The Maine Murders by Jon Mills

Ben Forrester series, but I don't see any more yet
Listened on Audible
narrated by Peter Kenyon
Unabridged audio (6:18)
391 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 4/5/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.23 - 1133 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting:  Contemporary Mount Desert Island, Maine

First line/s:  "For the last two years, Ben Forrester had lived in a small beach house on Mt. Desert Island."

My comments:  I was delighted to begin this murder mystery knowing that it took place in Maine, but was more-than-pleasantly surprised when I discovered it was set on my own Mount Desert Island.  However, the author did some really weird things with some of the facts and locations.  He changed the name of Bar Harbor to Eden Falls, keeping Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, and Tremont the other three towns, correctly.  Unfortunately, the narrator was never told how to correctly say Tremont.  Oh well, he did nail Bangor, thankfully, which is a huge pet peeve of mine though it shouldn't be.  But Mr. Mills added and changed other things that disconcerted me.  He kept saying Acadia Park (leaving out the National, which isn't done) and added Acadia National Forest, WTF?  He put Blackwoods Campground in Bar Harbor/Eden Falls jurisdiction, when it's in Otter Creek (never mentioned) which is part of the town of Mount Desert and in their jurisdiction.  He gave huge, crazy numbers to the amounts of park rangers at Acadia.  Had cabins and log homes dotted here and there throughout the "forest," which, because it's largely in Acadia National Park is definitely not allowed and therefore nonexistent.  All of this bothered me quite a bit     why change some insignificant details when sticking to the truth would probably garner more positive reception?  It definitely put me off.  The story was okay, to be sure.  I usually, as a rule, dislike stories when the protagonist's family are kidnapped, and this was one of those.  It was also incredibly grizzly - and I can usually take some grizzly, but, spoiler alert!!! I think I've got to draw a line with taxidermy being done on human bodies.  I'll give this one a three, although I will certainly try out any others if Mr. Mills decides to continue this as a series.

Goodreads synopsis:  A serial killer is terrorizing a coastal town…
          When renowned FBI agent Benjamin Forrester suffers a devastating loss while trying to catch an elusive serial killer, he quits the bureau. Years later, after a similar series of gruesome murders trigger an investigation in the coastal town of Eden Falls, Maine, Ben is called upon to assist the rookie police detective, Dakota Woods.
          He soon learns he's being lured into a deadly game of cat and mouse where the only way to stop the murders is to confront his past and face his worst fear.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Dede's Christmas Hexie Table Runner: The Second in a Possible Series

This one's for Dede.  And although I have a lot of black fabric left, it's really hard for me to see to sew on it, AND because I don't think Dede would like the black (though she might) She loves reds and greens for Christmas, so I'll leave out the blues and purples that I love.  I found enough white to use on hers. Her table's a very long 90 inches, so this one'll have to be a long one!  So here goes.

The first flower:

4/1/2020 A first day's progress  
4/2/2020 And at the end of the second day....time on my hands because I'm quarantined....Six flowers!
4/3/2020 Day 3 of cutting and sewing white hexies, then attaching.   The first photo is an idea for the future - making a round centerpiece...I think it looks cool.... but then I added more to continue this table runner.

And at the end of Day 3, here's where I was.  9 flowers...

4/4/2020 Day four of working on this table runner and Day 22 of the quarantine, I'm still making the white hexies like crazy and since I want to keep this mainly reds, greens, blacks, and whites, I also cut and made a few more flowers.  This will slow me down a bit, because before this i had a pile of already-made flowers to choose from.  Finished Season 3 of Travelers (the last one, unfortunately).  It's coming together quite nicely, I think. I must admit, my fingers are sore.  12 flowers!
4/5/2020 Day 5 and 16 1/2 Flowers!
I also sewed and pressed three strings of 9 hexies to attach to towels.

4/6/2020 Day 6 and 19 flowers...getting there!
I also appliqued two flowers to the fronts of potholder squares.

It's growing!

4/7/2020 Day 7 - 22 flowers
I'm now making new flowers...most of the previous sewing was done with flowers I'd already jointed.  Very sore right middle finger where my skin is getting tougher and tougher, lol!

4/8/2020 Day 8....25.5 flowers, and on I go!
     Running out of fabrics that make me happy, although I have 8 or 9 flowers that don't "do it" for me, so I'm hunting around for fabrics that work for me.
4/9/2020 Day 9 ... 27 flowers
     I decided that I want this to be at least 72" long, and that two flowers measure about 12  inches.  Therefore, I'll probably need anywhere from 12 to 14  flowers down the center, so many more.  I don't want to stop, because I really want to finish this, but I'm getting tired of it... that means either 4, 7, or 10 more flowers to go. I'm starting to groan.

4/11/20120 DAY 11 Finished the top!

4/17/2020 Ironed and ironed and ironed....took out all the outside papers and took to Deb Weigle to quilt!