Book Recommendations – June 2016

Welcome to my most requested List… Book Recommendations! And I wrote one TWO years ago and promised to do this monthly. Lies. But I am back again and going to give you a quick list to get back in the swing of things…a few books I’ve read since my last round of recommendations that I’ve started telling people to read. And again, I promise not to post spoilers in the descriptions if you promise not to post spoilers in the comments!

Affiliate Link disclaimer: If you click on the book, it will take you straight to my Amazon affiliate link so you can order…and ordering from my link enables me to buy more books. All of which I’ll tell you about in future lists. Isn’t Amazon grand?

1. Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

It sounds terribly sad (a train of orphans? wahhhh) but I promise this is a captivating novel that will pull at your hearts strings as you follow the journey of two different young women, at two different periods in our history. The story follows both Vivian, a Depression-era young girl and her struggles on the Orphan Train (yes, it was a real part of our American history; the trains used to bring children from our crowded East coast cities out to the rural Midwest), as well as Molly, a teenager in our modern-day foster care system.

2. I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai

If you are not familiar with the story of Malala Yousafzai, you should be. Malala became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 2014, in recognition for her fight against the suppression of children and her work towards the education of all children, worldwide, regardless of gender. Her memoir chronicles her life in Pakistan, explains why she is a champion for children’s education, specifically young women’s, and reveals the aftermath of when she was shot by the Taliban in 2012. The extensive details of Pakistani history can be cumbersome, but we can all find inspiration in her message and story.

PS: Be careful purchasing this one if you decide to not just click on the handy dandy photo of the book above – there is also a “young readers” edition for children that is less detailed. The cover looks similar and is marked “Young Reader’s Edition” but it is an easy mistake to make.

malala

3. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

Ender’s Game meets The Hunger Games. It’s a Science Fictionish Fantasyish and Young Adultish (the main character is 16 at the beginning of the trilogy but it doesn’t read like a YA novel) and combines a revolutionary war with space travel, historical Roman & Martian society and class oppression. A tale as old as time, right? I know this one sounds very niche (where my ancient Roman history Sci Fi readers at?!) but the trilogy feels fresh and like nothing I’ve ever read before while combining a compelling story line of friendship, war and intrigue.

4. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

Another historical novel, this one is a page turner but not because its a thriller – because it is a really well-written story. We follow two sisters in German-occupied France during World War 2 – one joins the Resistance, one follows the rules and permits her home to be occupied by a Nazi captain. PS: It reminded me of another Kristin Hannah novel, Winter Garden – an excellent story, strong female characters and just the right amount of pulling on my heart strings.

5. The Girl on the Train

Wait, didn’t she already write about a train? Sure did. But The Girl on the Train is very, very different from Orphan Train. This novel is more along the lines of Gone Girl (you can read my recommendation for that here) and is a page-turning thriller. And just like Gone Girl, it is coming to a movie theater near you in October!

But you all know the rules around here – the book is better so read the book first!

bookstofilm

Alright. There’s a few new books for you to add to your shelf and let me know when you read them! I plan on writing a few more book lists over the upcoming months, with drafts already created for Young Adult, Fantasy, Memoir and All Time Favorites!

What genre of book list would you like me to write next? Have you read any of these books?

Friday Five – May 22, 2015

Friday Five

1. Red Nose Day

Yesterday was Red Nose Day. Red Nose Day started in the UK to raise money for children’s charities worldwide and yesterday was the first Red Nose Day in the United States! American charities include the Boys and Girls Club of America, OXFAM America, and Feeding America. I made a donation last night and even though the official day was yesterday, I hope that you all consider donating today! Just $10 can vaccinate a child from five fatal diseases… so that means $50 could protect five children for life. Donate HERE.

2. Yard Sale

I love going yard saling and looking for treasures! But putting one on? Ugh. We’re having a yard sale tomorrow and I am dreading it. I can’t wait for someone to offer me a dime for something that is marked a quarter. SIGH.

I hate this lady.

I hate this lady.

3. Game of Thrones Musical

Last night on Red Nose Day there was a hilarious skit featuring Coldplay and the Game of Thrones cast…worth the watch, GoT fans!

4. Reading List

A new Book List is coming soon to the blog because I have been reading a TON of new, great books lately! Can’t wait to share them with you.

A Library and a Cat? Cailyn's Life Goals.

A Library and a Cat? Cailyn’s Life Goals.

5. Tomorrowland

When I first heard there was going to be a movie based on Tomorrowland (one of the lands in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, for those not in the know) I got a little bit nervous. Sure, Pirates of the Caribbean was great (the first two anyways)…but Haunted Mansion (getting a reboot, what a surprise) was definitely not awesome. I haven’t seen it yet (though it will definitely be my reward this weekend for surviving this yard sale) but my friend Patty over at My No Guilt Life got a chance to go to an early screening and I am happy to report she was pleasantly surprised! #crisisaverted Read her review HERE.

disney ecard

I’m ready.

Alright, there’s the Five! Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, and be sure to remember what the holiday is about…thank a soldier!

Are you going to see Tomorrowland this weekend? How about yard saling?

Friday Five – May 8, 2015

Friday Five

1. Hug it out!

The world waited for years to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao hug for a half hour rather than actually box. Mayweather is known for his defense (and his numerous offenses against women), while Pacquiao apparently had an injured shoulder before the fight. So basically it was just really boring. Below is my favorite take on the fight!

2. Universal Studios Meets Mario

Universal Studios announced the Nintendo characters and games are coming to their theme parks! Um, I can’t even contain myself. My lifelong dream of playing actual Mario Kart could come true!! Dream photo op: Finding the Princess in another castle… Hogwarts Castle!

mario kart

Kristin, we are so ready.

3. Flat Friend Visit

My friend Mary is working with a group of second graders and needed someone to be a pen pal to a child and have a Flat Friend visit. For those not in the know, Flat Stanley is a character in a series of books who goes on adventures and the Flat Stanley Project helps encourage literacy through letter-writing. So I got my own Flat Friend in the mail, along with a letter from a second grader. The one question my second grader asks me? “Is it true that Virginia had slaves?” …Sigh. Of COURSE I got the kid who wants to ask about slavery. Why don’t I go ahead and clear up some questions about religion or politics too? Anyways, I have taken my Flat Friend on a run, to the store, the post office. It’s been unreasonably fun for me.

Flat Friend 1

Fun Flat Stanley Fact: The Flat Stanley project has been around for ten years…there was even a Flat Stanley on the plane that landed in the Hudson. He was in a briefcase of the friend he was visiting.

4. Once Upon a Time Thoughts (skip if you don’t watch)

My favorite show is gearing up for its two hour season finale this week and I can’t wait. Season Thoughts:

  • Why must they turn Belle into an idiot? I mean really. She’s supposed to be smart. And this entire season they’ve been dumbing her down. So strange.
  • Love Regina’s full arc and path to redemption
  • Zelena is really starting to annoy me. I am not a fan. …and pregnant? I call shenanigans. Or at least I hope so.
  • The hair and makeup team has been doing a phenomenal job of making Emma look like she is becoming more of a villain every day. Her heart is going dark? More like those circles under her eyes! Throughout the season I have noticed she is less bright eyed and hero-esque and more pale and villain-esque. Do you think they are prepping us for Rumple to die…and Emma becomes the new Dark One?  <gasp> Or am I reaching because I just can’t understand why her makeup team has let her down?

5. Ya Burnt!

My favorite Seth Meyers skit is back! Royal baby, May Pac fight, Mother’s Day, ya burnt!

 

How was your week? Excited about Nintendo at Universal Studios? The Once Upon a Time finale? Comment below!

Harry Potter and the Dragon of Alcatraz

TWHS

Today’s That’s What He Said is brought to you by Josh’s discussion of Harry Potter with the 10 year old girl I babysit for:

Kate: “I finished Harry Potter. Again.”

Josh: “Did he get the dragon?”

Kate, stares: “What?”

Cailyn: “He clearly hasn’t read them.”

Josh: “Have they made the last movie yet?”

Cailyn and Kate: “Yes! Years ago!”

Josh: “So which one is the last movie then?”

Kate: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part Two.”

Josh: “There’s TWO of them? I haven’t seen those. I saw the Half Blood Prince one. And the Alcatraz one. It’s not Alcatraz.”

Cailyn: “Azkaban.”

Josh: “And I saw the one where they play Quidditch.”

Cailyn: “They play Quidditch? That’s almost all of them…”

Josh: “Okay so what are the other three then? Wait, how many movies are there? Five?”

Cailyn: “Eight.”

Josh: “Oh wow. I definitely did not think there were eight.”

Kate proceeds to school him: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows – and that’s in two parts for movies.”

Josh: “That was exhausting even to listen to.”

Kate seemed a little exasperated with Josh – can’t imagine why!

bookstofilm

dumbledore

2014 New Fall TV Reviews

tv show

Afraid you’ll commit to a new television program just to have it be cancelled as soon as you are invested? Never fear, I believe most of the new Fall shows have premiered and I’m here to give you my reviews! Through the magic of DVR, Josh and I usually try and watch the first few episodes of anything that interests us and this year I paid attention so I could tell you all what I thought was good enough to stay on your DVR! 

DVR Worthy:

1. </Scorpion> – CBS, Mondays at 9:00

It’s like The Big Bang Theory meets NCIS/Criminal Minds/any crime drama. It’s a group of geniuses that have come together to help the government solve crimes. I’ve really enjoyed the first couple of episodes and hope they are able to continue the interesting plot lines that are loosely based on the life of genius Walter O’Brien. It’s not hard-hitting, but each episode has kept me entertained.

2. Gotham – FOX, Mondays at 8:00

Taking a look at Lieutenant Gordon BEFORE he became Batman’s bestie in the police force. Gotham introduces us to The Penguin, Cat Woman, etc and begins with Detective Gordon trying to solve the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne (Batman’s parents). My only issue with this? Anyone that has ever seen Batman knows that A. The murder isn’t solved and B. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman because Gotham is a seedy underworld that needs saving – which means poor Detective Gordon is going to be fighting a losing battle this entire series. I don’t love that. I do, however, love seeing my boy Ryan Atwood in a television series again!

3. blackish – ABC, Wednesdays at 9:30

I haven’t laughed out loud so much during a sitcom since Modern Family’s first season. Yes, I am probably not the target audience for a show based around an upper middle class black family whose father is afraid his kids are losing touch with their roots, but I have found the storylines to be funny and engaging and not at all exclusively “blackish.” There is no white or black when it comes down to the age-old husband and wife argument of how to load the dishwasher correctly! For inquiring minds? In our house, utensils go sharp end down, bowls on the top racks, plates facing towards the middle, single-file. (Edited to add: Already picked up for a full season!)

4. Marry Me – NBC, Tuesdays at 9:00

Full disclosure, I love Casey Wilson and loved her cancelled-too-soon show Happy Endings. But Marry Me looks like a good replacement. Great chemistry between Wilson and her co-star Ken Marino, as well as a fun supporting cast, though some of which I can see being weeded out if the show gets picked up. Both Josh and I laughed out loud quite a few times at Wilson’s neuroticism and the rom-com esque plotlines.

5. The Flash – The CW, Tuesdays at 8:00

First off, I love The Arrow. That’s The CW’s other show based in the DC Comics world and in its third season of awesomeness. The Flash is a spinoff and so far, so good. Great casting and the first few episodes have made my inner comic book geek very happy. (Edited to add: Already picked up for a full season!)

6. How To Get Away with Murder – ABC, Thursdays at 10:00

Obviously, there’s a Queens University shout-out here as one of the minor reoccurring characters went to college with me! But that’s irrelevant because this show is good, though a little crazy at times. It reminds me of Revenge and Scandal – you’re not going to learn anything, but all the intrigue, plotting and backstabbing is very entertaining. (Edited to add: Already picked up for a full season!)

We’re Not Worthy:

7. The Mysteries of Laura – NBC, Wednesdays at 8:00

I love Debra Messing so I was really hoping I would like this show. But I have to tell you, it’s not awesome. Yes, women have children and go back to work. Yes, it is a struggle. No, you still haven’t managed to make the struggle funny or new.

8. Mulaney – FOX, Sundays at 9:30

I LOVE John Mulaney. Huge fan of him. This show? Not so much. It has potential, if only because John Mulaney is an excellent writer (he wrote for SNL) and standup comedian – so the possibility to become Seinfeld-esque is there…but it’s not there yet.

9. & 10. A to Z and Manhattan Love Story – NBC, Thursdays at 9:30/ABC, Tuesdays

Two more rom-com sitcoms that are just okay. Neither made me laugh like and neither had plot lines that kept me wanting to DVR it. I’d be surprised if A to Z gets picked up for a full season, and VERY surprised if Manhattan Love Story does. (Edited to add: Manhattan Love Story has become the first Fall 2014 show to be cancelled)

DVR

There you go! It’s not too late to cancel the duds or catch up online/on demand with some of my new Fall favorites.

Love anything I disliked? Dislike anything I love? Drop me a comment below and let me know what’s your favorite new Fall TV show!

July Book Recommendations

Welcome to my most requested List… Book Recommendations! I am going to do this monthly, and am kicking it off with some summer reading – books I’ve read recently-ish (over the past few years) that have become my “go to” suggestions for people looking to read a book they can’t put down and aren’t necessarily genre-specific. I promise not to post spoilers in the descriptions if you promise not to post spoilers in the comments!

These aren’t in any particular order – just books I’ve read and suggest you do as well! If you click on the book, it will take you straight to my Amazon affiliate link so you can order…and ordering from my link enables me to buy more books. All of which I’ll tell you about in future lists. Isn’t Amazon grand?

1. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

A thriller with enough twists to keep even someone like me (who consumes far too much media, thus is hard to surprise) guessing! Be sure to read this book BEFORE October when the movie is released starring Ben Affleck. Remember, Class: We read the book first. I know Ben Affleck is a dreamboat and whatnot, but this novel is so excellent its worthy of reading before the film. You know, like all books.

2. What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, by Malcolm Gladwell

This is a collection of Gladwell’s essays that he has written for The New Yorker over many years. Gladwell has written more famous books (Outsiders, The Tipping Point, Blink), but I always recommend What the Dog Saw as a perfect introduction to his writing that you can pick up and put down. The book’s essays examine everything from intelligence tests and ethnic profiling, to why there are many varieties of mustard but only one variety of ketchup.

 3. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Hardbach

I was hesitant to put this on my list, as it’s a little deeper and “Book Club” ish than a summer read, but here goes: This book that’s not really about baseball could be hit or miss (ha, see what I did there) for many readers. True, it’s main protagonist is a baseball player, but the novel is actually character and relationship-driven. The downside is that there’s a few parts that feel long and sluggish. I didn’t think I would end up enjoying it after reading the first 50 pages or so, but the author does a fantastic job developing the characters and made me invested in their futures.

4. 11/22/63, by Stephen King

At 753 pages, this is no light read! But it is King doing what he does best – writing a captivating story unlike one I’ve ever read. 11/22/63 follows a man who attempts to go back in time and prevent the assassination of JFK while examining the consequences of changing time. If you’re willing to commit to the length, this book is awesome.

5. Here I Go Again, by Jen Lancaster

Time travel? Again? Well this one isn’t exactly 11/22/63. A perfect beach read, this follows former high school Queen Bee Lissy Ryder, who goes back in time to try and fix her life, karma and mean girl reputation. I love everything Jen Lancaster has written because no matter what she always keeps me laughing.

6. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Technically a young adult novel, it follows the story of a young girl in World War 2 who steals books and her foster father uses them to teach her how to read. It is beautifully written and the narrator provides for an interesting perspective (no spoilers here on who narrates). It isn’t going to make you laugh, but it will make you think. And maybe make you cry. (PS: Oh, and obviously they made it into a movie – I repeat: Read the book).

7. Defending Jacob, by William Landay

A legal crime thriller, Defending Jacob is about a Boston suburb ADA who investigates the murder of a boy in his son’s class until evidence suggests his son, Jacob, is the primary suspect. The story follows Jacob’s parents’ love of their son, as well as examines whether a propensity for violence can be genetic. Excellent read and a page-turner until the very end. (PS: It’s not a movie yet…but I’m sure it will be… read it now and be a trendsetter!)

8. The Jefferson Key, by Steve Berry

I love Steve Berry and his books featuring Cotton Malone are my favorite. He mixes history and fiction to create captivating, beach read stories that I can’t put down. The Jefferson Key links several assassination attempts of U.S. presidents and the group behind them, and follows Cotton Malone as he tries to solve a cipher once used by Thomas Jefferson. If you liked the film National Treasure, you’ll love Steve Berry.

Books

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Okay, these are some books that should keep you turning pages while at the beach. Next month I want to dive in to a different genre or theme. What would you like to see next? Young Adult? My All-Time Favorites? Non-Fiction? Comment below with your future book list requests!