Sunday, May 31, 2020

TV Series: Secret City

Premiered: Australia in 2016, US in 2018
Season 1:  Six part miniseries, set in Canberra, Australia (watched October, 2018)
Season 2:  (Called "Under the Eagle") 2019
Number of Episodes: 6 each season
Length of Episode:
IMBd:  7.4
RT Audience Score:   100 / 72
cag: Season One = 4.5  /  Season Two = 2

Season One/My Comments:  The protagonist, played by the headliner from FRINGE (Anna Torv) is an investigative journalist for the top newspaper in Canberra. In the first two episodes we discover that she is separated from her much-loved husband, who is transitioning into a woman, but he gets murdered.  She then spends her time uncovering the twisting, turning Chinese/American/Australian top government spies vs. good guys.  Excellent show.
Season Two/My Comments:  Less enjoyable, more difficult to follow.  It's all politics, Australian politics, and takes quite a few episodes to even fathom who is baseline good guy or bad guy.  Perhaps I should have rewatched season one before watching this.  It does straighten up in the mind a little by the end, but it wasn't really that interesting, unfortunately.  Just ok.

Storyline from IMBdBeneath the placid facade of Canberra, amidst rising tension between China and America, senior political journalist Harriet Dunkley uncovers a secret city of interlocked conspiracies, putting innocent lives in danger including her own.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

86. Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

listened on Audible
narrated by Lauren Ezzo and Shaun Taylor-Corbett
Unabridged audio (11:46)
2020 Lake Union Publishing
348 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction
Finished 5/27/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.52 - 3358 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting:  1853 Overland Trail, Missouri to Utah

First line/s:  "The wheel is in pieces.  It's not the first time one of the wagons has lost an axle or broken a rim since our journey began in May, but it's a long, dry stretch with no grazing and it's not a good place to stop."

My comments:  1853.  The Overland Trail.  I loved the writing and the narration of this powerful story.  Much of it was based on real people, native and white, who embarked on the arduous journey from Missouri to Utah and beyond in the 1850s.  The two protagonists, Naomi and John, both have strong voices beautifully written.  Such highs and lows in the narrative, which truly made me realize this was the way of the world during this time period for the people who embarked on this unbelievable trip.  I am impressed and humbled and so glad that I read this book.

Goodreads synopsis:  In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.  
          The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.                   But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.          When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

Monday, May 25, 2020

85. The Imposter by Paul Doiron

#10.5 Mike Bowditch, Maine Game Warden
listened on Audible
narrated by Henry Leyva
Unabridged audio (1:29)
2020, Minotaur Bks
60 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 5/25/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.93 - 192 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: contemporary Washington County, Maine

First line/s:  "Twelve-gauge Gaynor had been rowing his skiff from the town landing out to his lobster boat, the Dragon Lady, when he'd spotted a metallic glimmer coming through the blue-green water."

My comments: A very short story, which does not take place after book number 10, but way back, nearer to the beginning of the series.  It takes place in Washington County when Mike as a young game warden.  Short but sweet with a very abrupt ending - we never find out why the imposter took on Mike Bowditch's identity.  Oh well.

Goodreads synopsis:  In this original short story in the bestselling Mike Bowditch mystery series by Paul Doiron, Mike is confronted with a case of stolen identity.
          When the body of a young man is pulled from a submerged car in Roque Harbor, rookie game warden Mike Bowditch is shocked when the man’s driver’s license identifies him as none other than…Mike Bowditch. For weeks, Mike and his colleagues have been fielding reports of a man terrorizing the locals while posing as a game warden, wielding a plastic pin-on badge and claiming to be “Warden Bowditch”. Who is the imposter, and how did he end up dead in the bottom of a harbor? Mike must uncover the truth in order to clear his own name.

84. A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

listened to audio borrowed from Bosler Library
narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
Unabridged audio (11:39)
2020 Mira Books
400 pgs.
Adult Dystopia
Finished 5/25/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.59 - 953 ratings
My rating: 2.5
Setting: San Francisco in the (near?) future

First line/s:  "People were too scared for music tonight.  Not that MoJo cared."

My comments:  Well, this book was certainly apropos.  It was all about pandemic, quarantine, deaths, and all the crazy stuff that could possibly happen around it, which was a bit tough to read right in the middle of our current COVID-19 pandemic. I can't say I like this book and I'm not sure why.  The four main characters were interesting, but I couldn't relate at all.  And the seven-year-old daughter, Sunny, was totally unbelievable for me.  A seven-year-old girl, no matter how smart of savvy, would ever be able to make her way from San francisco to Seattle during absolute craziness safely and/or well.  The adults sure couldn't!  No, I can't say that I would recommend this book at all. 
     There was a quote I liked: "Memories are made to fade.  They're built with an expiration date."

Goodreads synopsis:  How do you start over after the end of the world?
          Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.
          In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on—even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.
          Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before—and everything they still stand to lose.
          Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

TV Show: Sweet Magnolias

Premiered: 5/19/2020
Season 1
Number of Episodes: 10
Length of Episode: 45 minutes?
IMBd: 7.4
RT Critic's Consensus: none as of 5/26/20
RT Audience Score:   67 / 69
cag: 5
Produced by: Netflix

Characters: Three friends
     Maddie (ex husband, Dr. cheated on her) and her three kids: Tyler, Kyle, and young girl
          Coach, love interest for Maddie, hunk
     Dana Sue (chef, daughter Annie)
     Helen (single lawyer who wants a baby)

My comments:  Quite delightful, not too heavy, which is much needed right now.  A little slow moving, but the romcom kind o show that has been tickling my fancy lately.  The only porblem is that it ended on a horrible note, a car wreck where the younger son, Kyle was pulled out unconscious and put on a stretcher and the second passenger was unknown.  His brother, Ty?  Dana Sue's daughter, Annie?  Frustrating because it'll be a t least a year IF it's renewed.  o surprises, but enjoyable.  Great cast.  The lead, Maddie, looks so much like Amy Adams that they could be twins.

Storyline from IMBdCenters on three South Carolina women, best friends since high school, as they shepherd each other through the complexities of romance, career, and family.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

83. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Listened to Audio on Libby, borrowed from Bosler
narrated by Yareli Arizmendi
Unabridged audio (16:43)
2020 Flatiron Books
400 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 5/23/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.32 - 76,513 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting: Contemporary Acapulco, Mexico, Nogales and north through the desert to Tucson

First line/s:  "One of the very first bullets comes in through the open window above the toilet where Luca is standing."

My comments:  This is an amazing, powerful book.  It tells the story of a mother and her eight-year old son fleeing from certain death after her husband and 14 other family members - including her mother =  were murdered by the cartel in Acapulco.  Their harrowing adventure is unimaginable ... brave, incredibly scary, and sad.  It's hard to believe and hard to imagine how the atrocities described in this book can possibly be happening in our world RIGHT NOW.  Incredible thoughtful, lovely writing.  And the narrator was just perfect, spot on, with a lovely Spanish accent, pronouncing everything not only with the perfect accent but with the right emphasis on letters that are different than English.  Wow, just wow.  Highly recommended must-read for anyone and everyone. 

Goodreads synopsis:  

TV Show - Safe

Premiered: 5/10/2018
Season 1, Complete
Number of Episodes:  8
Length of Episode:
IMBd: 7.3
RT Critic's Consensus:  Safe boasts a superb cast -- albeit with some questionable accents -- who carry its soapy, mystery-laden drama just well enough to offer an entertaining diversion.
RT Audience Score:  71 / 76
cag:  5
Produced by: Netflix

Father: Tom Delaney (Michael C. Hall)
His best friend & fellow doctor, Pete
His two daughters, one who disappears

My comments:  A Harlan Coben Movie!!!  Set in England with an American actor as the lead playing a British doctor.  Another of Coben's really cool mysteries that have all sorts of possibilities, twists and turns, with wonderful characters and actors  Totally enjoyable.

Storyline from IMBd: After his teenage daughter goes missing, a widowed surgeon begins uncovering dark secrets of the people closest to him.
Storyline from Rotten Tomatoes:  A widower maintains normalcy after the death of his wife until one day, his daughter goes missing, and he begins to uncover buried secrets of their seemingly secure gated community.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

82. The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben

listened on my Audible, purchased
narrated by Steven Weber!!
Unabridged audio (
2020 Grand Central Publishing
384 pgs.
Adult Mystery/Suspense
Finished 5/21/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.07 - 16,725 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting: Contemporary upstate NY

First line/s:  "How does she survive?  How does she manage to get through this torment every day?"

My comments :  Another excellent mystery from Harlan Coben.  The protagonist is a man who, as a boy, was found living by himself at seven or eight years old, in the middle of the woods in New York state, with no memory of his past, his name, or even how he knew how to read.  As an adult he is somewhat of a super-guy: smart, fearless, military background and loyal to a local family that became HIS family of a sort.  The 70ish year old matriarch of that family, a female lawyer, is investigating a perplexing mystery with all sorts of twists and turns involving a wealthy family, a spoiled teenage son, a bullied girl, and a shady guy in politics.  Read brilliantly by Steven Weber, this was super enjoyable.

Goodreads synopsis:  In the shocking new thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away, a man whose past is shrouded in mystery must find a missing teenage girl before her disappearance brings about disastrous consequences for her community . . . and the world.
          The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child's family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.
          Now, thirty years later, Wilde still doesn't know where he comes from, and he's back living in the woods on the outskirts of town, content to be an outcast, comfortable only outdoors, preferably alone, and with few deep connections to other people.
          When a local girl goes missing, famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein--with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection--asks him to use his unique skills to help find her. Meanwhile, a group of ex-military security experts arrive in town, and when another teen disappears, the case's impact expands far beyond the borders of the peaceful suburb. Wilde must return to the community where he has never fit in, and where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it's too late.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Rows of Gray Hexie Quilt

Tried this out to see how I liked it, so that I could use up random orphan hexies:
This is 20 rows  and measures 25 inches (wide) by 30 inches (long). 
This took just a bit less than one yard of gray fabric. 
There are 200 gray hexies and 90 orphans in this size.

81. A Perfect Evil by Alex Kava

#1 Maggie O'Dell
listened on Audible
narrated by Richard Rowan
Unabridged audio (10:42)
originally 2000
480 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished 5/20/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.03 - 16,982 ratings
My rating: 2
Setting: contemporary Nebraska

First line/s:  "Nick Morelli wished the woman beneath him wore less makeup."

My comments: I'm going to start with a spoiler:  the murderer gets away with it.  We know who he is and they know who he is, but he is slick and good at his evil.  The book also ends with Albert Stuckey, the horrible, grizzly murderer who had captured Maggie previously, escaping from prison.  Book two will continue with this part of the storyline.  I have no interest in it at all and will not be reading it.  I don't think there is a single character in this book that I liked, other than a little kid who gets kidnapped and whose thoughts we are able to access.  Definitely not a favorite, nor an author I will return to.

Goodreads synopsis:  A killer is watching . . .
          The brutal murders of three young boys paralyze the citizens of Platte City, Nebraska. What's worse is the grim realization that the man recently executed for the crimes was a copycat. When Sheriff Nick Morrelli is called to the scene of another grisly murder, it becomes clear that the real predator is still at large, waiting to kill again.
          Morreli understands the urgency of the case terrorizing his community, but it's the experienced eye of FBI criminal profiler Maggie O'Dell that pinpoints the true nature of the evil behind the killings -- a revelation made all the more horrific when Morrelli's own nephew goes missing.
          Maggie understands something else: the killer is enjoying himself, relishing his ability to stay one step ahead of her, making this case more personal by the hour. Because out there, watching, is a killer with a heart of pure and perfect evil.

Monday, May 18, 2020

80. Sovereign by Jeff Hirsch

listened to on Audible, a freebie
narrated by Jesse Einstein (Didn't care for his narration at all)
Unabridged audio (6:03)
2019 Audio Studios
Not in hard copy form, so am estimating 175 pgs.
Mid Grade SciFi
Finished 5/18/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.19 - 2485 ratings
My rating: 1
Setting: A planet far, far away, now

My comments: I did not like this book.  Everything Just seemed ridiculous, every twist and turn, of which there were too many.  And the ending -- Geez!  Plus, I did not care for the reader at all.  This young man drew out each word clearly and succinctly and slowly, enunciating every single consonant, in a somewhat effeminate manner.  I know this shouldn't have bothered me, but it did.  It took me months to get from beginning to end,  I kept deciding to give it up, but went back to it just to see what was going to happen.  Blech.

Goodreads synopsis:  Micah Cole has been in deep space for four years now. While his parents chase their obsession with finding intelligent life deeper and deeper into the universe, Micah can’t help but dream of the friends he’s left behind and counts the days until the family returns to Earth. When a devastating meteor shower nearly destroys the Coles’s ship, Micah is separated from his family and stranded alone on Sovereign—a vast planet of raging rivers and towering forests. If Micah ever wants to see his family or his home again, he’ll have to learn how to survive on this hostile alien world. Armed with only his wits and determination, he’ll have to battle the elements, his own deepest fears, and a strange presence that might just hold the key to his parents’ obsession—and be his ticket back home.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

TV Show - Cardinal

Premiered:  6/17/2017
Season 1:  Forty Words for Sorrow
Season 2:  Blackfly Season
Season 3:  By the Time You Read This 1/24/19
Season 4:  Will be the final season
Number of Episodes per season:  6
Length of Episode: 45 minutes
IMBd: 7.7
RT Audience Score: Season 1  89/94
cag: 4
Watched on HULU
Set in Algonquin Bay, northern Ontario, Canada
Produced by CTV (Canadian Television Network?)
Season Synopses on Wikipedia

     John Cardinal - played by Billy Campbell
     Catherine Cardinal
     Lise DeLorme - Cardinal's new partner

My commentsSeason 2 ended where John Cardinal's wife, Catherine, who was bipolar, has just jumped off a big building and kuilled herself.  Good mystery.  Good chemistry between Cardinal and his partner, Delorme.
Season 3 was slow and depressing.  I'm glad there are only six episodes.  There are two mysteries unfolding, one of a vigilante woman who has taken in three you adults and brainwashed them into thinking they are helping her create a better world.  And the other is John Cardinal convinced that his wife did not commit suicide in the last episode of season two, and goes on to prove it against everyone else's advice.  Even though it was depressing, it was interesting to watch.

Storyline from Wikipedia:
Cardinal is a Canadian crime drama television series, which was first broadcast on January 25, 2017, on CTV (in English) and Super Écran (in French). The series adapts the novels of crime writer Giles Blunt, focusing on police detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and his partner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), who investigate crimes in the fictional city of Algonquin Bay.

79. Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera

listened on Audible
narrated by Robin Miles, Adenrele Ojo, Brittany Pressley
Unabridged audio (11:07)
2019 Park Row
352 pgs.
Historical Fiction
Finished 5/17/2020
Goodreads rating:
My rating: 4.5
Setting: 1924 rural SC

First line/s: "It's easier to kill a man than a gator, but it takes the same kind of wait."

My comments:  Told in three distinct voices and narrated incredibly beautifully by three different actors, this is the story of 1924 (?) rural South Carolina, on a tobacco farm/plantation owned by Edwin Coles.  Annie - Rita - Gretchen.  Gentile wife - black cook and housekeeper - ultra-poor white mother of four.  I am pretty sure that listening to this presentation added greatly to the story, especially when it was done by such superior reader.  What a story!

Goodreads synopsis:  A stunning tour de force following three fierce, unforgettable Southern women in the years leading up to the Great Depression
          It's 1924 South Carolina and the region is still recovering from the infamous boll weevil infestation that devastated the land and the economy. Gertrude, a mother of four, must make an unconscionable decision to save her daughters from starvation or die at the hands of an abusive husband. Retta is navigating a harsh world as a first-generation freed slave, still employed by the Coles, influential plantation proprietors who once owned her family. Annie is the matriarch of the Coles family and must come to terms with the terrible truth that has ripped her family apart.These three women seemingly have nothing in common, yet as they unite to stand up to the terrible injustices that have long plagued the small town, they find strength in the bond that ties women together. Told in the pitch-perfect voices of Gertrude, Retta and Annie, Call Your Daughter Home is an audacious, timeless story about the power of family, deep-buried secrets and the ferocity of motherhood.

78. The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

listened to audio via Audible Escape
narrated by Andi Arndt & Sebastian York
Unabridged audio (2:54)
2019 audio, 2020 Kindle
161 pgs.
Adult RomCom (clean)
Finished 5/17/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.57 - 6324 ratings
My rating: 3+

My comments: Just the kind of soft fluff that I need in these ultra-depressing gray days.  A clean rom-com, the type of book that for my previous sixty years I totally refused to read and would never ever admit that I liked them, isn't that a riot?   This was a cutie fake boyfriend book, on of the tomes that I fund delicious.

Goodreads synopsis:  Heat up the holidays with this sizzling new novella from New York Times best-selling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward!
          Riley Kennedy’s emails keep getting crossed with her colleague, Kennedy Riley.
          The infuriating man forwards them along with his annoying commentary and unsolicited advice. At least she never has to see him in person since they work in different locations…until they come face to face at the office holiday party. As luck would have it, Kennedy turns out to be gorgeous…though still a jerk. Yet somehow he’s able to charm her out on the dance floor—and convince her to participate in his crazy scheme: He’ll go home with Riley for a Christmas party and pretend to be her boyfriend if Riley agrees to be his date to a wedding.
          It sounds easy enough. But little by little, the act they’re putting on starts to feel like so much more than a Christmas pact—and Riley’s about to learn there’s more to Kennedy than she ever imagined.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

77. Honeymoon for One by Frankie Collins

Audible/Amazon says the author is Portia MacIntosh
listened on Chirp Audio
narrated by Karen Cass
Unabridged audio (9:17)
2019 Boldwood Books
342 pgs.
Contemporary Adult Romance
Finished 5/16/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.25 - 231 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  contemporary posh island resort

First line/s: "Your wedding day is the start of a life-long journey, and, like any other journey, it requires a lot of planning."

My comments:  A sweet, adorable, very, very funny rom-com.  Narrator got into some of the scenes , which made it especially funny and I laughed out loud through many sections.  Freddy, the male actor protagonist, was fashioned after the fantastic Jamie Dornan from Shade of Gray, at least in my mind, but I do think that's what this author had in mind.  Ooh la la!  And oh, there were absolutely no explicit scenes in this book, which I must say was quite refreshing!

Goodreads synopsis:  When disaster strikes, paradise calls...
As a published novelist, Lila Rose has been writing about fictional weddings all her life. But disaster strikes on her own big day when she hears her philandering fiancé, Daniel whispering sweet nothings to someone else.
          With her dream day shattered, all Lila wants to do is run and hide, so she decides to fly solo on her own honeymoon.
          When Daniel arrives in the resort with his new squeeze, Lila strikes up a ‘showmance’ with hot new movie star, Freddie Bianchi. Freddie is perfect for the part and Lila soon relaxes into her leading lady role.
          But as truth starts to merge with fiction, could real love be in the air?
          A sizzling holiday romance, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Ranald's Sorry Not Sorry.

76. Senator's Pet by Avery Rae

#1 Korystus Aliens
listened on Audible Escape
narrated by Meghan Kelly
Unabridged audio (4:11)
206 pg.s
Adult SciFi Steamy
Finished 5/16/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.81 - 134 ratings
My rating:  1

First line/s:  "It'd been nearly a year since we crash-landed on Korystus, a planet populated by beautiful, cruel beings known as Korystis."

My comments:  A whole lot of repetitious nonsense with too many unanswered questions.  HORRIBLE reader, the light, airy, bimbo kind of voice that I hate.

Goodreads synopsis:  Senator Rylos bought me. But he'll never make me his.      
          I'll admit those are strong words for a woman who trembles at his touch. But I can't help it. His kind are as beautiful as they are cruel.
          We crashed onto his planet ten years after we fled Earth. Instead of helping us, they imprisoned us, then sold us off to the highest bidder.
          I was the last human sold. Too much bad behavior. Yet Rylos dared to buy me and call me his pet.
          He might be genetically engineered perfection on the outside, but I won't let him have me, no matter how hard it is to resist him. Because my goal is to escape.
          I keep telling myself it'll be easy. Why does it feel like I'm lying?

Thursday, May 14, 2020

TV Show - The Sinner Season 2

Premiered: 8/1/2018
Number of Episodes:  8
Length of Episode:  45 minutes?
RT Critic's Consensus:  In its second season, The Sinner establishes itself as an engrossing why-dunnit thriller series with staying power.
RT Audience Score:  97 / 83
cag: 5
Produced by:  USA/ I streamed on Netflix

Det. Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman)
Black female lesbian cop, Hannah
Her dad, a white dude and old friend of Ambrose's
Vera, head of the cult, and mom to Julian
Julian, the 13-year old in the center of the case
Marin, Hannah's best friend until she disappeared after joining the cult (after high school)

My comments:  I loved all the twists and turns.  cults. Good guys and bad guys.  Deling into Harry's background and difficult years with a bipolar mom.  Fascinating storytelling.  The young man who played Julian seemed exceptionally talented.  Wowser.

Storyline from Rotten Tomatoes:  In Season 2 of the drama series, Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) goes back to his small hometown to investigate the murder of a couple by their 11-year-old son. As he tries to figure out why the boy would commit such a crime, it becomes clear that the town is hiding some very dark secrets that people will do anything in their power to protect. While attempting to bring these secrets to light, he also meets Vera (Carrie Coon), who might hold the key to understanding everything that's going on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

TV Show - The Strain

Premiered: July 13, 2014
Four Seasons, last season July, 2017
Number of Episodes: 46 (13-13-10-10)
Length of Episode: 45 minutes
IMBd: 7.3
RT Critic's Consensus:
Season 4: 100% The Strain concludes on a high note with a climactic season that will remind viewers of the series' initial bite.
Season 3:  55% Consensus: Content with mediocrity, The Strain suffers under the weight of a stagnant story, scraping by on the pedigree of its style and visual effects.
Season 2:  77% he Strain's gory action helps compensate for an unfocused narrative, while the show's political and philosophical subtext add necessary heft for adult viewers.
Season 1:  84% The Strain makes the most of its familiar themes through an effective mix of supernatural thrills and B-movie gore -- though it may not appeal to everyone.
cag: 4/Liked it a lot for some unknown reason....
Produced by FX, watched on HULU

Dr. Ephriam Goodweather (Corey Stoll)
Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley)
Vasily Fet (Kevin Durand)
Dutch (Ruda Gelmintas)
Mr. Quinlan (half vampire, son of The Master) (Rupert Penry-Jones)
Palmer (who became The Master) (Jonathan Hyde)
Eichorst (undead vampire) (Richard Sammel)
Zach Goodweather (Ephraim's son) (Max Charles)

My comments:  Weird and creepy, and I loved it...for the most part.  The Master vampire (who can switch from body to body with the gorriest transfer of worms flowing from mouth to mouth, yuck!) and his army of ghouls who suck blood and turn humans in a particularly creepy way with a fat, long snake-like tongue, take over America.  This is about a small group of people who band together to try to take The Master down.
     It is really nice to come to some sort of completion in the conclusion.
     I've watched this off and on for years.

Storyline from WikipediaThe show centers around Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the CDC's New York-based Canary Project, who is called upon to investigate an airplane landing wherein everyone aboard is dead. What his team discovers is a viral outbreak that has similarities to an ancient strain of vampirism. The virus begins to spread and Goodweather works with his team and a group of the city's residents to wage a war to save humanity.

75. Inappropriate by Vi Keeland

listened to audio via Audio Escape
narrated by Sebastian York and Andi Arndt
Unabridged audio (8:01)
2020 C, Scott Publishing
364 pgs.
Adult steamy crf
Finished 5/12/20
Goodreads rating:
My rating: 3.5

First line/s: "God, I feel like crap."

My comments: This was a good one, lots of story, emotional story ... with a little bit of depth.  Lots of the "usual" kind of stuff that comes from an Audio Escape-type book. Perfect for falling asleep....
Ireland & Grant.

Goodreads synopsis:  A new, sexy standalone novel from #1 New York Times Bestseller, Vi Keeland.
     Terminated for inappropriate behavior.
     I couldn’t believe the letter in my hands.
     Nine years. Nine damn years I’d worked my butt off for one of the largest companies in America, and I was fired with a form letter when I returned home from a week in Aruba. 
     All because of a video taken when I was on vacation with my friends—a private video made on my private time. Or so I thought…     
     Pissed off, I cracked open a bottle of wine and wrote my own letter to the gazillionaire CEO telling him what I thought of his company and its practices. 
     I didn’t think he’d actually respond.
     I certainly never thought I’d suddenly become pen pals with the rich jerk.     
     Eventually, he realized I’d been wronged and made sure I got my job back.
     Only…it wasn’t the only thing Grant Lexington wanted to do for me.
     But there was no way I was getting involved with my boss’s boss’s boss. Even if he was ridiculously gorgeous, confident, and charming.
     It would be completely wrong, inappropriate even. 
     Sort of like the video that got me into trouble to begin with.
     Two wrongs don’t make a right.
     But sometimes it’s twice as fun.

Monday, May 11, 2020

TV Show - Upload

Watched on Prime Video
Season 1
Number of Episodes: 10
Length of Episode:
IMBd:  8.1
RT Critic's Consensus:  Though Upload at times suffers from tonal overload, witty writing and a winsome cast make it an afterlife worth living.
RT Audience Score: 87 / 88
cag: 3/liked it

My comments:  If you have lots of money, then when you die yoyu can have your consiousness uploaded into a virtual reality into an avatar of your likeness.  You even get to email and talke to your loved ones, and even tough them when they are all geared up in virtual reality gear.  So when Nathan dies in a freak car accident they discover it was murder - his rich, weirdo girlfriend pays for his uploads into a very fancy virtual reality.  There he meets his "angel," Nora, whose job it is to make sure he's cared for and nothing goes wrong.  They fall for each other, , he had, after all, had a pretty tentative lack-of-feeling for the girlfriend.  Series one ends with him breaking up with the girlfriend, being now poor so he had to start living in the cheap-o basement of the Upload facility,and girlfriend walks in with a huge smile and tells him she's had herself uploaded to be with him.

Storyliline:           By the year 2033, humans have developed the ability to upload themselves into their preferred choice of Artificial Afterlife. In Los Angeles, software engineer Nathan (Robbie Amell) is fatally injured in a self-driving car accident. His shallow girlfriend pressures him into agreeing to be uploaded to her family’s luxurious virtual heaven, Lakeview. Once there, he is greeted by Nora (Andy Allo), his customer service representative (or "Angel"), who appears as a holographic avatar while actually working in an office in Queens alongside other "Angels".  
          The series follows the two as Nathan grows accustomed to his imperfect afterlife with Nora's help, while the still-living Nora struggles to stay afloat.

Friday, May 8, 2020

74. The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

listened to audio borrowed from Bosler Library
narrated by Sophie Amoss, Sullivan Jones, Robin Miles, Bahni Turpin, Lisa Flanagan, Dominic Hoffman
Unabridged audio (15:16)
2020 Ballantine Books
388 pgs.
HistFiction told in two voices during two time periods
Finished 5/8/2020
Goodreads rating:   4.26 - 9918 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Louisiana, 1875 & 1987

First line/s: "A single ladybug lands featherlight on the teacher's finger, clings there, a living gemstone."

My comments:  Another book that has wowed me.  Based on the actual "book of lost friends," which were advertisements in the late 19th century posted by freed slaves looking for lost family members.  Told in two voices during two times periods, 1875 and 1987, and set in rural Louisiana, Hattie and Benny tell their tales.  Hattie is a freed slave, sharecropping on the same land where her family was enslaved, who ends up going on an adventurous journey trying to save the two daughters of the manor; half-sisters; one a miserable spoiled brat and the other a half Creole from New Orleans who was, of course, despised by her sister and her sister's mother.  Benny is a still wet-behind-the-ears brand new teacher who's landed a job in the "poor" school in the same town/locale as Hattie had lived.  A bibliophile, she has no books for her students, respect from her students, and no support from anyone local except the heir of the manor, who wants nothing to do with it or his uncles who run the town.  Benny, with the help of some of the town's African-American elders, gets the kids interested in their history, researching, learning, and starting to care about their roots.  Each chapter begins with an actual advertisement from the book of lost friends. I give it a 4.5 only because I think it start out a it slowly and didn't grab me 'til a bit of the way in.

Goodreads synopsis:  A new novel inspired by historical events: a story of three young women on a journey in search of family amidst the destruction of the post-Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who rediscovers their story and its connection to her own students' lives.
          Lisa Wingate brings to life stories from actual "Lost Friends" advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold off.
          Louisiana, 1875 In the tumultuous aftermath of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation; Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister; and Hannie, Lavinia's former slave. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following dangerous roads rife with ruthless vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and eight siblings before slavery's end, the pilgrimage westward reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the seemingly limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.
           Louisiana, 1987 For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt--until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, seems suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled oaks and run-down plantation homes lies the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

TV Show: After Life

Premiered:  March 8, 2019
Seasons:  2 so far
Number of Episodes:  6 per season, 12 total
Length of Episode:  30 min.
IMBd:  8.5
RT Critic's Consensus:   After Life's first season teeters tonally between dark comedy and affecting drama, but Ricky Gervais' poignant performance illuminates new sides of the actor's talent.   Though After Life's second season struggles to affirm its existence, it's a solid entry for anyone aching for a little more contemplative gallows humor.
RT Audience Score:  74/88
cag:  4
Netflix, written by Ricky Gervais

Characters:  Tony played by Ricky Gervais
His dead wife, Lisa
His brother-in-law and boss, Matt and Matt's 8-year-old son, George
His sex-worker friend, Roxy
His cemetery buddy, Anne, who talks to her dead husband Stan every day, on a bench at the cemetery
His postman, Pat, a homeless guy who asks to use his bathroom and takes a bath!
His co-workers and friends, Lenny and Sandy
His dad, with Alzheimer (who was on The Strain)

My comments:  Laura told me this was good but it made her cry a lot.  For that reason I almost didn't watch it, I hate to cry.  For me it was more depressing than sad.  Ricky Gervais was deperssed and it made me totally depressed, too.  However, it was so tongue in cheek black-humor funny that I totally enjoyed it.

Storyline from Rotten Tomatoes:  Tony (Ricky Gervais) had a perfect life. But after his wife Lisa suddenly dies, Tony changes. After contemplating taking his own life, he decides instead to live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes from now on. He thinks it's like a Super Power -- not caring about himself or anyone else -- but it turns out to be tricky when everyone is trying to save the nice guy they used to know.

Storyline from IMBd:  After Tony's wife dies unexpectedly, his nice-guy persona is altered into an impulsive, devil-may-care attitude; taking his old world by storm.

Recipe: Homemade Cheese Crisps

OMG, these are so easy and so delicious!  They're so expensive to purchase at the store, and you can whip one of these up from fridge to noshing in less than a minute and a half.

How?  Rip off a piece of parchment paper about 6-inches wide.  Shake on some shredded cheddar cheese - perhaps a heaping tablespoon? - and spread it around a bit.  Fold over the parchment paper so that the pile of cheese is now covered with paper.  Place in the microwave.  I place a plastic peanut butter lid on top to hold the paper down.

Set the microwave to one minute.  And that's it!


Sunday, May 3, 2020

73. Alien Fae Mate by Misty Kayn/Milana Jacks

listened on Audible Escape
narrated by Hollie Jackson
Unabridged audio (2:12) Novella
2016 Inked Refuge
80 pgs.
Adult SciFi Alien Romance
Finished 5-3-20
Goodreads rating: 3.34- 95 ratings
My rating: 2

My comments:  I wish I could find (free) short stories that have to do with science fiction/fantasy/aliens that aren't full of sex/smut.  They probably exist, but I can't find any in the free world of Audible Escape.  I've looked.  This story was full of sketchy outlining, the beginnings of creating a race that has invaded earth, but skims over what could really be interesting and super creative because either the author thinks that readers want lots of smut and steaminess or that's all they know how to write  What I want is out there, I'm sure, but apparently it's not free, lol...Steam is 3 out of 4, but I totally skimmed over these parts.  They're all the same in every book!

Goodreads synopsis:  He won’t risk losing her. She’ll risk everything to have him.
          Rain maintains the science projects that allow the Fae to walk on the iron-cored earth, but she can’t figure out what her Fae boss wants. She’s tried blonde, brunette, C-cup and D, slutty heels and flats. Nothing works. But with the Fae mating season coming up, she’s pulling out all the stops.
          Titan has explored the galaxy—and found the one woman he can never have. Rain is perfection, but he won’t risk losing her in a mating ritual that could kill her. Except her stepped-up steaminess is making his palms sweat, and his grip on his control is slipping...
          ***mating trope topped with HEA. A Standalone Erotic Romance Novella.

Friday, May 1, 2020

72. The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

listened to Chirp/Audio
narrated by Imogen Church
Unabridged audio (10:28)
2019 Park Row
352 pgs.
Adult CRF (British)
Finished 5/1/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.70 - 13,936 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting: Contemporary England

First line/s:  "As always, Martha Storm was primed for action._

My comments:   This book seemed to drag on and on, but that'show I read it, taking at least a month and only reading here and there.  90% of it was really quite depressing for me, a lost life, only coming into her own when she was, what, fifty years old or so?  The story is about a wasted life, though Martha learns to live it in time to appreciate a few good years to come. 

Goodreads synopsis:  Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people--though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she's invisible.
          All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend--her grandmother Zelda--who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda's past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.
          Filled with Phaedra Patrick's signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending.