Book – The Selection Series by Kiera Cass is my #1 guilty pleasure reading. It’s “The Bachelor” (Dating competition) meets The Hunger Games (Caste system). America Singer lives in a society divided by castes. Each member of the kingdom is assigned a number based on their relatives. A One can afford all the luxuries and never have to worry about lack of shelter, food, or money. Eights are the lowest, the handicapped, drug users, those who have nothing. It’s rare for someone to rise about their status to a higher number. America is lucky to be a Five, meaning she and her family are artists who make money by performing for others, though they still struggle to support themselves.
Enter “The Selection.” Thirty-five girls are chosen to compete for the hand of the prince. All the young women of age are invited to apply. It’s a fairytale, the chance of finding true love with the prince. Participants also receive financial support for their families during their time in the competition. America has already found the (secret) love of her life, but reluctantly submits her application and is chosen. On arrival to the royal castle, America finds that Prince Maxon is not at all what she expected. As she forms friendships with the other applicants, America struggles to decide what she really wants. Will America stay true to her love back home? Will life in the royal castle change that stubborn, proud girl who first entered it’s gates? With the additional threat of rebels attacking the castle, will America be able to find what her heart desires?
I really love the character of America; she fights for what she believes in no matter the consequences and is fiercely loyal. We have the entire series in print at the library, as well as in Ebook on a pre-loaded Kindle available for 2-week Checkout. Visit Goodreads for a complete list of the series order.
Movie – As someone who’s claustrophobic and terrified of drowning, this movie made me tense. However, I always love a good shark film. In 47 Meters Down, we meet Lisa and Kate, two best friends on holiday in Mexico. Lisa just broke up with her cheating boyfriend and they’re hoping to escape it all. Then two handsome gents invite the friends to go cage diving with the sharks, promising the experience of a lifetime. From the get go, things seem a little shady, but Lisa and Kate know this is a one time opportunity. The red flags are there every step of the way, yet as in any creature feature/sharky shark film, all logic must be ignored.
I enjoyed all the scenes featuring our great white friends, though there weren’t nearly enough, in my opinion. The psychological aspect of the film was unexpected and added yet another layer of uncomfortable tension, but was really well done.
The whole situation is terrifying to me: a limited air supply with a very real risk of getting the bends swimming to safety. Swim to the surface too fast, and the pressure increase will be too much for your body to handle. Definitely not a good predicament to find yourself in when there are sharks circling hungrily nearby. This definitely solidified my desire to never tank dive–not that I was so determined to do so anyway. A good film, not enough sharks. There really are never enough sharks.
For another shark escape adventure, check out The Shallows, with actress Blake Lively.
TV Series – It seems to me that the TV series Girls has become an obsession in the world of millennials, and just in general. It’s one of the most realistic portrayals of mid-twenties life that I’ve seen in a television show. Sure, certain aspects are clearly dramatized, as in any popular series, but it just feels real.
Lena Dunham stars as the main character, Hanna, but is also an executive producer, which is pretty impressive. The series follows a group of budding adults: our starring character, Hanna, her best friend, Marnie, the bubbling Shoshana, and eccentric Jessa. They each have such distinctive personalities; it’s fascinating to see how they change and grow as the seasons progress. They’re in that phase of their lives where they’re cut off from their parents, struggling to pay rent, while also trying to maintain friendships, romantic relationships, and holding down jobs to support themselves. The experiences can be crude, disturbing, and intensely sexual, but it’s also though-provoking and something good to reflect on. It deals with difficult topics including: mental illness, drug use, sexuality and the daily struggles of life.
I turn to The Office when I need some comedic relief after watching Girls, which often makes me think too much about my own 20’s life. It presents characters that feel like people I might know and provides a good example of how relationships change after college. I really enjoy this series as a whole. As an added bonus, Adam Driver stars in the show, albeit as Adam, an often disturbed/disturbing love interest. I adore Adam Driver as the angsty Kylo Ren, so it’s always a pleasure to see him on screen.
Book – Sh*t My Dad Says is the hilarious, wonderful memoir detailing the quirky relationship between author Justin Halpern and his father. As the title implies, readers will quickly discover the foul mouth of Justin’s always blunt, yet caring dad. The memoir began online as a Twitter page titled “Sh*t My Dad Says,” which featured all the many quotes of Justin’s beloved dad. All of Justin’s friends that his Dad’s quotes were hilarious and it soon became clear that the internet loved him too. The Twitter account quickly accrued a mass following with news stations requesting interviews with the writer and the man of the hour himself.
Justin is a very relatable narrator, chronicling life after college, moving back home, and trying to survive in the chaos of adultdom. The introduction starts with Justin’s longtime girlfriend breaking up with him, the catalyst that causes him to seek refuge at home while searching for new life prospects. The life lessons his father instills upon him as a child, adolescent, and adult are often filled with-tough love, and are downright brutal.
Each chapter is titled with a different theme/life lesson and relevant Dad quote.
Justin traces stories of his childhood with his family and details the lessons he learned from his father. Many of these stories are experiences that everyone shares, though of course with the special touch of Justin’s father.
The humor reminded me of author Jack Gantos, specifically his series featuring a young man named Jack Henry. Gantos’ writing is full of crude, weird humor, very similar to Justin’s novel.
Book – Girls in White Dresses follows the lives of three friends: Isabella, Mary, and Lauren. It seems like everyone around them is getting married, and they are constantly taking on roles as bridesmaids. The madness is never-ending! Each weekend passes by with bridal showers, oh’s-and-ah’s over pretty gifts, and dresses in every shade of pastel. Honstely, they are getting a little sick of all this love and wedding business. Told from three points of view, this novel delves into the terrifying world of adulthood, relationships, and just life in general.
The chapters switch between the different lives of the three main women, sewn in with their own struggles, drama, and relationships. With the different storylines, at times it was easy to get the characters mixed up and forget where the book was going. You get a little taste of a memory/themed chapter from one girl’s point of view, and then whoooosh!, the story swerves to a new theme and narrator. However, I really enjoyed these very specific glimpses into the lives of the characters, and learning more about their individual encounters and experiences The characters were relatable, funny, and quirky—-a great read for any chick lit enthusiast.
Movie – Funny Games is, without a doubt the most infuriating film I have ever watched. I should mention first that horror and thriller films are definitely not my genre of choice, but I can still appreciate what goes into the suspense and jump scares that give me the jitters. After seeing Funny Games just one time, I adamantly refuse to ever watch it again. However, I do acknowledge that what enrages me could be someone else’s favorite movie of all time. To each their own.
It starts as horror stories often do: a family goes on holiday, anticipating a nice, quiet vacation. Then two strangers show up (stranger danger!), and the trip quickly becomes their worst nightmare. The two men first arrive at the house of the family requesting to borrow some eggs, but the offenders return with more sinister demands. The men create a game of torture and violence against the family, who must struggle to stay alive.
Funny Games is brutal, and the way the offenders break the fourth wall and stare down the audience through the screen really makes my skin crawl. I hate tension in movies, and the tension in this movie is excruciating for me to sit through without wanting to scream. Maybe this film is worth watching for the horror or thriller enthusiast.
Movie – Growing up I was never a big fan of trolls. The odd little dolls just gave me the heebie jeebies with their creepy, smiling faces. However, the 2017 movie, Trolls is a whole different story. I adore this film; it’s fun, musical, and just so colorful. I’ve already watched it three times. Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake belt out the lyrics as main characters Poppy and Branch which is a real treat to listen to. I definitely recommend checking out the soundtrack after you watch the film.
Welcome to a world full of never-ending happiness, music, and love! The Trolls are the most joyful creatures who love throwing parties, breaking into song, and most of all, hugs! Poppy is their beloved ruler, and the very best party thrower. However, these lively beings have a dark past. Years ago, the trolls were attacked by a miserable beastly species called the Bergens. Since their escape, there have been no Bergen sightings for a long time. When the Bergens suddenly return and kidnap a bunch of trolls, it is up to Poppy to rescue them. Poppy pairs up with Branch, an intolerable, grumpy troll, and they set off to save their friends. It’s an adventure featuring with unlikely duo, unexpected twists and turns, and fantastic musical numbers.
Everything about this movie makes me happy. The setting is so vibrant and colorful, and I love, love, love all of the trolls and their individual personalities. It’s a quirky, fun story that makes you want to get up and dance! By far one of my favorite films this year, and the best kid’s movie I’ve seen in awhile.
Music – The Chainsmokers just renewed their debut studio album, Memories…Do Not Open. Their previously recorded EP’s include Bouquet and Collage. I’ve recently become obsessed with The Chainsmokers, ever since I heard “Something Just Like This” playing on the radio. The DJing/Production duo consists of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall. They have an intense electro-pop dance vibe that adds another dimension to their music. Primarily a DJ group, a lot of their music doesn’t feature their own vocals, which has its pros and cons. It’s great to explore the different sounds of other artists, but I also enjoy the moments where you can experience the vocals of Andrew Taggart, like in “The One.”
I love the majority of the tracks in this album, which is pretty rare for me. I think that’s mainly due to the variety of themes/moods and main vocalists. The Chainsmokers frequently feature other artists, while providing the electronics-pop acoustics. This is definitely one of my favorite things about the group because I get great music recommendations.
For a calming influence, I always default to “The One”, and “Bloodstream.” When I’m looking for some pumped-up beats, I turn to the last four tracks of the album: “Honest,” “Wake Up Alone,” “Young,” and “Last Day Alive.” The “Last day Alive” to me feels a bit reminiscent of “715 CR∑∑KS” by Bon Iver and “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap. Both of these artists use synthesizers to alter their music, creating a very unique electronic sound that give their voices an almost robotic resonance. It reminds me of the voice-changer that is used to protect someone’s identities in a criminal investigation. A lot of the Chainsmoker’s music possesses this style; I’m eager to see how that transfers over to their live performances.
Book – After a chance meeting brought them together, Lucy and Owen fell in love. Raised on the chaos of city life, the couple left New York City in favor of the quiet family-centered Hudson Valley, a small suburb of Beekman. It’s a health-centered place where you know all your neighbors, and the local moms cook up hot lunch at the schools. Over the years, the romance and attraction in Lucy and Owen’s relationship has fizzled, as they concentrate on raising their young autistic son, and dealing with the chaos of daily life.
It is on a rare drunken night with friends that the idea first hits them. Their friends reveal they have begun an open marriage, which shocks Lucy and Owen. As the weekend passes by, however, Lucy and Owen just can’t shake this new knowledge. Is it really as crazy as it sounds? In the spur of the moment, they lay out the groundwork and compile a set of strict rules. They agree on six months, no questions asked, but neither one has any idea how much their lives are about to change
The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn was not at all what I expected. The story follows the relationship of Lucy and Owen, but it also blends in multiple other points of view, looking into a variety of marriages and relationships outside of the main couple. While one obviously expects there to be sexual content when reading about open marriages, I actually found the details to be pretty minimal, with more concentration on the changing family dynamic of Lucy, Owen and their son, as well as other relationship in the story. I enjoyed this read because it felt very real, like something unfabricated, a glimpse into the life of someone who might actually exist.
Books – Imagine waking up to find that your hands have become paws in the night. You jump off the bed (on four legs!), look in the mirror and see a furry, wet-nosed face staring back at you. But then, you turn around and see yourself, your human self, looking just as confused as you. Somehow, you and your dog have swapped bodies! Dog Days by Elsa Watson and The Dog in the Freezer by Harry Mazer (available through Interlibrary Loan) explore the bizarreness of finding yourself stuck in the body of your furry best friend, making for some fun, quirky reads.
In Elsa Watson’s Dog Days, we meet struggling café owner Jessica Sheldon, who is going through a ruff time. Elsa holds the famed title of “number one dog hater” after an unfortunate incident in which she may have screamed at two unsuspecting pups. “Woofinstock,” the towns annual dog-themed festival, is Jessica’s chance to redeem herself, and her café. Jessica is in way over her head after volunteering for the festival, and taking in a stray dog named Zoe was never part of the plan. Things get even worse when Zoe and Jessica magically happen to swap forms. While Zoe is ecstatic that she finally has the power to take any food she likes, Jessica is terrified imagining what her body double will do next!
The Dog in the Freezer is a compilation of three novellas, each tail showcasing the strong bound between a boy and his dog. (Though we don’t have a copy of this novel at our library, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan). This was one of my favorite’s growing up. The body-swapping story is titled “My Life As a Boy,” about a hghschooler named Gregory and his genius dog Einstein. Gregory and Einstein just wake up one day, on the day of Gregory’s very important basketball game, to find they have switched places! Will Einstein be able to take Gregory’s place in the big game? With tons of humor, and a touch of suspense, this book really is the fleas knees.