Film List – I have a confession; I am wannabe fashionista. My addiction to fashion-themed romantic comedies knows no bounds and is ever growing. Here are a few recommendations for a rainy night in:
The Devil Wears Prada
Andrea dreams of being a journalist, and having just graduated from Northwestern University, she is finally ready to start her writing career. But her dream never involved working as the assistant to demanding Miranda Priestly, Editor-in-Chief of a famed high fashion magazine. Andrea soon finds herself in way over her head. How will this young woman survive the deadly world of fashion. It’s normal girl transforms into fashion goddess; one of my all-time favorite films. And to top it off the film has a killer cast with the incredible Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, and Emily Blunt.
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Rebecca Bloomwood is a shopaholic; she dreams of writing for a fashion magazine and sharing her addiction with the world. But Rebecca is in some serious credit card debt from all her shopping escapades and needs a job fast. She manages to land a job at a financial magazine. Now Rebecca has to write about personal finances and saving money while battling her inner shopaholic.
Though more eccentric-depressing drama than comedy, I still think this film is worth a nibble. Kate Winslet portrays fashion designer Tilly Dunnage, who’s had an exciting life traveling the world. When Tilly returns to her childhood home, she is an outcast, even to her eccentric mother, Molly. In spite of her efforts, Tilly falls for the childhood friend turned handsome flirt. To gain the approval of the local townswomen, Tilly begins designing custom apparel for them, but a dark secret from her past threatens to destroy everything. Is it too later to start over and move on from the past?
Book – Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley is the wonderfully whimsical story of a girl who is allergic to human touch. Young Jubilee Jenkins was an oddity in her small town, due to an allergy that seemed too ridiculous to be true. Doctors diagnosed her with a severe allergy to physical contact to other humans. Her body lacked something that all humans possess, an unfortunate reality that caused her to break out in hives at even the lightest touch. As a child, a fatal event nearly takes her life, and so Jubilee becomes untouchable, living alone and hidden from the world for nine years. When her mother passes unexpectedly, Jubilee must finally face the world on her own. Finding solace in her very first job as a Circulation Clerk at the local library, Jubilee slowly begins to open up after an encounter with a struggling divorced father named Eric.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. I thought the concept was really unique. As soon as I opened the book jacket and read “allergic to touch,” I was hooked. I’m also a sucker for stories involving libraries or working in libraries, so this novel was a good match for me. The only thing that really bothered me was that I thought it ended much too soon and abruptly.
Book – Hi Anxiety: Life With a Bad Case of Nerves by Kat Kinsman is an exploration of anxiety and its effect on one woman’s life. In 2014, Kat went public about having General Anxiety Disorder, publishing a blog post on CNN.com titled “Living With Anxiety, Searching For Joy“. The reception following the publication was incredible; she received an overwhelming response from readers overjoyed to hear a voice that resonated so much with their own lives.
I have to mention first how much I love the cover art of this book; I’m always a sucker for cute animals, (especially bunnies) and I snatched this off the shelf without a second thought. It also seems appropriate given the subject matter–rabbits are by nature skittish, nervous bundles of fluff, in my opinion a perfect mascot for anxiety.
Kat Kinsman is a funny, relatable author who does an amazing job showing what life is like for someone living with anxiety. She delves into all aspects of her life in a format that switches between chronological chapters, and sections titled irrational fear. The irrational fear segments detail specific activities and instances that incite anxiety in Kat, including but not limited to: “Seeing the doctor,” “Having No way Out,” and “Driving”. My favorite thing about this book is Kat’s focus on personal relationships–the role anxiety plays in her relationships with others, and specifically its impact on the pursuance of romantic relationships. Embarking on romantic endeavors is difficult enough without anxiety and I found that Kat’s personal narrative of love and loss really resonated with me.
It’s easy to feel a connection to Kat’s words thanks to the intimate and honest nature of her writing. Whether or not a reader struggles with a mental disorder, I think anyone can find a connection with some aspect of Kat’s experiences.
Book – From the author of Flowers in the Attic, comes a new disturbing tale of twins, appropriately titled The Mirror Sisters by V.C. Andrews.
I should have known what to expect from this creepy, chilling novel centered on identical twins, Haylee Blossom Fitzgerald and Kaylee Blossom Fitzgerald. With a manic and controlling mother, the sisters received a truly identical upbringing, and were taught to view themselves as a single perfect being.
As children, their mother ensured that each twin received exactly the same treatment and experiences. If one twin received a new dress, the other must also have an exact duplicate. Likewise, if one child happened to cut her finger on a broken shard of glass, the other must be pricked in the exact same spot of the exact same finger. Differences in behavior and thought were frowned upon and punishable. Though centered on the relationship between the two girls, I enjoyed that this story also had a strong focus on all relationships within the Fitzgerald family. The obsessed mother. A troubled father. It was cool to see those unique family dynamics.
The story as a whole left me frustrated, and stayed with me long after reading. I applaud V.C. Andrews for composing a complexly disturbed narrative I simply couldn’t put down. Definitely not a feel good story in any respect, but well worth the read.
Music – Country to me has always been a difficult genre to nail down, with music ranging from classic country legends, to rock pairings, and ventures into the pop scene with just a twang of country accent. I’ve even heard country rap! It seems there is something for every music lover in this ever evolving genre.
For a minimum of two months at least, The World From the Side of the Moon by Phillip Phillip’s was my sole music provider. I’m the kind of person that will listen a CD to death until I can’t bear another track, and Phillip Phillips was a great contender. He has a folky, almost rock tone. As a whole, I think this album is a great listen from start to finish. The live tracks at the end of the album were also a nice bonus. Having first heard Phillip Phillips as a contestant on American Idol, I was impressed with his solo voice outside of studio recordings, and his premier album did not disappoint.
The World From the Side of the Moon is a simple collection of songs that share a similar tone and rhythm. It’s easy to pass through the whole album without really noticing how many songs have really gone by. While some may find the album to be a bit monotonous, I enjoyed the constancy of the CD as a whole, which is great for as both background and avid-listening music.
Book – Nicholas H. Dodman has penned quite a few bestsellers on the subjects of animal behavior and psychiatry, his latest book being Pets on the Couch : Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry. Dodman is a world-renowned animal behaviorist, who has appeared on countless television and radio shows to share his work.
In Pets on the Couch, Dodman discusses different diagnoses for troubling behaviors in pets. He starts off with the story of a dog who is sweet as pie, but awakens from sleep as a violently aggressive fiend who rips blankets to shreds, and attacks nearby witnesses. Dodman diagnosed this particular patient with a seizure disorder, and prescribed an appropriate medication, one meant for humans. What I found most interesting about Dodman’s approach to treating animal disorders is that he prescribes human medications as treatment. He describes the strong emotional/psychological connection that humans and animals both share which is why he considers human medications appropriate methods of treating psychological and mental disorders in animals.
While critics felt Dodman claimed he was the first to discover that animals and humans share similar psychological and emotional connections, I was far more interested in the content itself. At times I did wish that Dodman expanded more on the examples/animal cases he provided, and also wished he was able to provide more of these examples. Fortunately for me, Dodman has written many bestsellers on animal behavior, so I have no doubt I can find plenty more stories of his experiences.
Book– The Hating Game by Sally Thorne has such an intriguing title that I had to pick it up. Introducing…Lucy and Joshua, two people who absolutely despise each other. Lucy hates Josh’s cold, unfeeling personality and the starchness of his always perfect wardrobe. Joshua hates Lucy’s quirky positive demeanor and colorfully wacky sense of style.
Unfortunately for this pair of arch-nemeses, Joshua and Lucy not only work in the same publishing office, they’re forced to share the same cubicle. Lucy can’t think of anything worse in her life than having to see and work with Joshua every day. Just to get through their time together, Lucy and Joshua play a series of childish games, like the staring game: maintain eye contact until the other one cracks a smile, or breaks down in tears. Fun stuff, right?
When a promotion looms on the horizon, it is Lucy against Joshua in a fight of sabotage and power to get to the top. Lucy promises herself that if Joshua becomes her boss in the promotion, she’ll quit on the spot. But something begins to change between these rivals, something that’s slowly turning their hatred into something…new. Suddenly their silly games fall by the wayside, opening up to something real that neither of them could ever imagine. Full of comedy, ridiculous hate-filled staring games, and so much more, The Hating Game is a perfectly crafted tale of opposites attract and competitive angst.
Music– I’ve recently begun expanding my collection of folky-alternative, easy listening music. My first soft-spoken love was The Fray, followed by Coldplay, and the sweet acoustics of Mumford and Sons. I’d been binging on the beautiful angst of Ed Sheeran for awhile and knew it was time for a fresh sound.
Enter: All the Little Lights by Passenger.
Singer Michael David Rosenberg hails from Brighton, England and All the Little Lights is his third solo album. His music has an indie-pop vibe mixed with a mellowing dose of acoustic folk (At least, that’s how I would describe it). There is a certain intimacy about his music, a solo singer who produces his own acoustics, and for this reason (I’ve been told), his live performances are incredible.
Passenger is probably best known for the hit single, “Let Her Go,” but feel like his other tracks are often overlooked due to the popularity of this one song. A few of my favorite tracks on this album are: “Things That Stop You Dreaming” and “Holes.” “Things that Stop You Dreaming” is about dealing with the difficulties in life, learning to appreciate what you have and continuing to pursue the things you love. It’s a bit melancholy but also uplifting.
“Holes” is a quick paced song with a strong beat that shows Passenger’s inclination towards lyrical songwriting. There are two storylines introduced in “Holes”: man who has lost everything, left with no money in his pocket, and a woman abandoned by her husband, left to care for four young children. The song talks about the holes we bear in our own lives–things we’ve lost, struggles we deal with, hardships–but ends on an uplifting note, that through all the troubles we experience, life goes on, and we carry on.
Tv Mini-Series– Long a fan of movie adaptations of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, I absolutely adored the 2008 British Tv Mini-Series, Lost in Austen. This film follows the Jane Austen obsessed Amanda, who lives in present day London with her boring boyfriend who just doesn’t hold up to her precious Darcy. A girl in love with the romance and time period of Pride and Prejudice, Amanda is in for the shock of her life when she finds herself trapped in a real life world of her favorite Jane Austen novel. There she stays with the Bennett’s, meets the sobering Darcy, and manages to ruin relationships while making a mess of the entire plot. Will she ever return to modern London or is she forever fated to live her life in a broken edition of Pride and Prejudice?
Amanda is such a wonderfully quirky, cute character full of sass and spunk; I immediately adored her. She speaks her mind, which often backfires on her, but makes for a good laugh. Lost in Austen’s Darcy (Elliot Cowan) does not disappoint the eyes, and is definitely in the same ranks as Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice, 2006) and Colin Firth (Pride and Prejudice, 1995 Tv Mini-Series). The story itself is fun and magical, taking a step into your favorite fictional world. It was whimsical twist on the classic tale of Pride and Prejudice, and I loved it.
I would recommend it to Jane Austen enthusiasts and romantic comedy lovers alike. For more fun Austen adaptations, check-out Austenland, The Jane Austen Book Club, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies*! *All three films are based on novels of the same titles.
Music–It took me a few listens to really get into the music of The Lumineers. Their self-titled album, The Lumineers is a blood-pumping anthem of songs that requires a higher volume for listeners to truly appreciate. To me, the singer’s voice tends to fluctuate between soft and loud, creating a kind of high-low echoing effect. I believe that the band is best enjoyed at high volumes, preferably played loudly whilst one sings along on the open road. It’s also worth noting for this artist that the more you listen to the songs, the clearer their meanings become.
The Lumineers top hit single, “Ho Hey,” is one of the bands most well-known hits, but there are so many other songs deserving of love. My favorite tracks on this album are “Submarine,” “Stubborn Love,” and “Charlie Boy.”
“Submarine” and “Charlie Boy” both make references to war in their lyrics. The former is about a boy who spots a Japanese Submarine. He rushes home to tell the townspeople, who laugh and say he’s seeing things. This storyline may be addressing the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII. In “Charlie Boy,” references to the Vietnam war appear in the lyrical heartbreak of watching a loved one go off to war. These are just a few interpretations of these lyrics. Though sharing somber themes, “Submarine” has a powerful force that makes you want to jump up and dance, while the sweet, slow melody of “Charlie Boy” is great for winding down after a long day
“Stubborn Love” follows a man who can’t stop loving the woman who keeps letting him down and breaking his heart. It’s a love song, but the story creates a relatable experience of the ups and downs of love. Ironically, this is one of my favorite feel-good love songs.