Not Just Books: March 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bnwu4nmy3mtmtmtbmmi00njfjltkwmmitywzhzwuwndg5m2exxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynduyotg3njg-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Netflix Series: “The Defenders”

I have a very hit and miss track record as far as watching Netflix’s Marvel shows. I loved “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” but then didn’t watch “Luke Cage” and was scared off of “Iron Fist” by the bad reviews. But as I loved “Jessica Jones” the most out of them all (take a wild guess as to what’s my next pick on this list!), I felt the need to watch this team up show before watching the second season. And I was glad I did! I know this show, too, go a weaker reception than was expected, but I quite enjoyed it. For one thing, I think I felt better about having not felt like I had to spend hours watching every single series leading up to it. And as far as the story goes, I had no problem figuring out what was going on without having watched two of the series. Daredevil and Jessica Jones were by far the best part of this show as well, so I feel like I made the right decisions there. And I did love the outright mocking of Iron Fist that went down in this show. If anything, it definitely got me excited for Daredevil season 3 whenever that comes out!

mv5bmtkxmdk5ntq3mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzg3odu3ndm-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Netflix Series: “Jessica Jones” season 2

No one is surprised! I mean, I watched a whole other series in prep for this thing, so obviously it was going to make its way on this list unless it somehow bombed, which it did not. Krysten Ritter is definitely the strongest part of this series. She is pitch perfect as Jessica and manages to sell even the weaker moments of this season’s run. While I don’t think it reached the highs of the first season (for one, how do you top David Tennant’s terrifying Kilgrave??), it also managed to pull off the dreaded “origin story” superhero arc. There were a couple familiar faces popping in here and there, but at the heart, this is always Jessica’s story. It covers a lot of ground on some familiar topics (trauma and recovery from trauma) and new one ground with regards to family and memory. If you enjoyed the first season, I think this one is well worth checking out!

1200px-minnesota_united_fc_28mls29_primary_logo-svgSports: Minnesota United Soccer

Proof that I went outside last month!! So both my husband and Kate’s have been huge soccer fans for forever and have been buying season tickets together to our local soccer club for about as long. I enjoy sports more than Kate, so I’ve been tagging along for the last several years as well. Our team just moved up to the national level last year (let’s not talk about how well we did…), so this is the second year on the “big stage” as it were. This month’s season home opener was particularly fun as it was the first beautiful sunny day in the 50s we had had and our team pulled out an exciting win! This is probably the first and last time you’ll hear about sports on this blog, but quietly, in the background, I’ll be attending every home game we have, proof that not all librarian stereotypes hold water!

Kate’s Picks

fullsize_6306_1420729530Podcast: “Last Podcast on the Left”

So maybe you’re looking for a true crime podcast that also covers supernatural happenings, aliens, and conspiracy theories. And maybe you want your hosts to be three guys who are all kinds of inappropriate, but also do IMPECCABLE research into the case that they are tackling for each episode. If so, you should check out “Last Podcast on the Left”. Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski have done episodes covering such subjects as the Aum Shinrikyo Death Cult, Ted Bundy, The Amityville Horror, and Roswell, with lots of black humor and lots of VERY thoroughly explored information. The series that hooked me was all about 90s Norwegian Black Metal and the murder of Euronymous, if only because of the hilarious but relevant tangents taken during the episodes. Expect some bad taste, but know that they take their research VERY seriously.

3dac38a0577560178dabb0c45c62e321f03cb7d8Netflix Series: “Wild Wild Country”

SPEAKING OF CULTS, who here has heard of the Rajneeshee Bioterror Attack??? Basically, in the early 1980s followers of Baghwan Rajneesh bought up some land and built a commune in the middle of nowhere Oregon. In an attempt to take over the town, one of their higher ups, Ma Anand Sheela, poisoned a number of local restaurant salad bars with straight up Salmonella in hopes that the townspeople would be too sick (or dead) to vote in the upcoming election. Hundreds were sickened and eventually the cult was run out of town. Well guess what! Netflix has a show about the group and the conflict with the town. What surprised me the most about this series was that it doesn’t just paint the Rajneesh followers as total monsters, but also examines the cultural conflict between this group and the people of the small town of Antelope, Oregon. You can see the motivations and feelings of both sides, and I came away feeling bad for a number of the followers who really felt like Rajneesh was their savior, as well as for the townspeople who were, uh, poisoned by the cultists. Deeply fascinating, and disturbing, stuff.

mv5by2iwotrkyjctymnhys00nthllthkzgetzdq1y2iwzdlmztbmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtmxodk2otu-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Netflix Series: “Everything Sucks”

As a person who hit middle school right during the mid to late 1990s (starting sixth grade in 1996), I feel a fair amount of nostalgic joy when I watch the show “Everything Sucks”. I mean, there are so many things that I completely remember and relate to when it comes to this show. My closet was filled with flannel and Doc Martens. I hung out with the geeks, but had a HUGE crush on one of the bad boy upperclassmen. And like many of the characters on this show, I was trying so, so hard to figure out who I was, and how to navigate through the awkward awfulness that was middle and high school. The real standouts are Luke (Jahi Winston), the freshman AV geek who is earnest and adorable, and Kate (Peyton Kennedy), a lonely sophomore who is slowly discovering her sexuality. Not only are the storylines filled with humor and fun, there is the undercurrent of bittersweetness (I was weeping openly during one scene with the use of the song “Rocketman”). 90s kids, check it out, but everyone else should too.



Not Just Books: February 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bmwrmyjvjm2ytndawmi00zgzmltgzmjqtyjy4mtnjmtljnjhjxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjexmjk0odk-_v1_sy1000_cr007081000_al_TV Show: “Broadchurch”

So clearly I’m on a bit of a kick with the whole British murder mystery TV shows. I highlighted “Wallander” last month, and now I’ve moved straight on to “Broadchurch” which I’m loving even more. The season long mystery is excellent with a bunch of red herrings and various suspects (for someone who kind of prides myself on being able to call the killer early in shows, I didn’t manage to get this one until a few episodes from the end. A definite plus!). But beyond this, there’s no getting away from the fact that the show lives and dies on the power of the two leads: David Tennant and Olivia Colman. These two are known powerhouses, so it’s not a surprise that they are excellent here. The combination of them together though? Just magic. Their characters have excellent chemistry. If there was a criticism I had for “Wallander” it was that its lead character was too broody/ansty without an appropriate foil. “Broadchurch” does better at striking this balance, relying on Tennant to provide the broodiness (but even he brings a bit more comedy than Branaugh’s Wallander had) and Colman to bounce off him with exasperation and humor. Supposedly there are two more seasons, but I’m not sure how they can recreate the magic that this one was, so we’ll see!

The+Boy+Who+Hasn't+LivedPodcast: “The Boy Who Hasn’t Lived”

This is a new podcast that I’ve discovered and have systematically binged. It features one host, dedicated and rightly obsessed Harry Potter fan, Arlie doing a first-time read through with his friend CJ who has never been exposed to the series before. My love of Harry Potter definitely expands to the point of loving watching other people experience it for the first time. I mean, really, if I could have any series to read for the first time ever, it would be this one, so it’s great fun hearing about someone else’s first time experience. Both hosts are hilarious and bring the perfect amount of geeky knowledge (Arlie) and new found wonder (CJ) to the experience of reading this series. If I had the time, I’d be doing a re-read with them, but, alas, I hear my next Animorphs book calling.

11669536Comic Collection: “The Complete Calvin and Hobbes”

Ok, yes, this one is kind of cheat-y because it’s more reading, but…but…they aren’t books! So it’s ok?? I’ve always loved Calvin and Hobbes and have a bunch of the smaller paperback collections, but also splurged on this lovely hardback full collection a few years ago. This last month I’ve been pretty stressed by some things that I don’t have much control over, and these comics have been a great resource for my tired mind. I mean, when reading an actual novel seems like too much work, you know it’s bad! But this collection provided the perfect amount of humor and whimsy that I needed, and all in a format that didn’t have a requirement for “finishing the book.” Some of the references are also hilariously dated, and really, that just makes it all the better!

Kate’s Picks

assassination-of-gianni-versace-teaser-and-key-art-1-600x600TV Show: “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”

I remember riding home from school when the news broke over the radio that Gianni Versace had been shot and killed outside of his mansion in Miami. I remember when it was announced that Andrew Cunanan, a serial killer who started his spree in Minnesota, was the culprit. It was the first time I was following a serial killer in real time, and I was freaked out and horrified. So when Ryan Murphy announced that the second season of his anthology series would focus on Cunanan and Versace, I was very excited to watch it and get a new look at it all. Not only does this show have great performances (Darren Criss as Cunanan! Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace!), it is also a fascinating examination of obsession with fame and celebrity, and gay culture in the 90s and how the lingering stigma was not only unfair, it was downright deadly for some. I love this show, and it’s SO well done even my true-crime disinterested mother is watching it with me.

91zyrtg1vl-_ri_TV Show: “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars 3”

That’s right, gang, not only are we getting a new season of drag queen shenanigans, it’s once again the Quarter Quell The All Stars Season! Former contenders come back to try and get the crown they missed out on the first time round, and the stakes are upped as the challenges are made more challenging and pressing. Some of my favorites (Chi Chi Devayne, Trixie Mattel, BenDelaCreme) from past seasons are here this time, making it VERY difficult to pick whom I want to win. But it’s always excellent seeing these ladies come back to perform, throw shade, and crack wise all while looking absolutely devastatingly fabulous. I also like that they kind of shake elimination procedure up during All Stars, as the queens lip sync for the weekly win, AND the opportunity to eliminate a fellow contestant. CUTTHROAT! DRAMATIC! ENTERTAINING! RuPaul’s back on our screens and I’m pleased as can be.

mv5bmtg1mty2mjyznv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtc4ntmwndi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Movie: “Black Panther”

So perhaps you’re thinking ‘another Marvel movie? I thought Kate was a DC girl!!!’ And yeah, okay, so maybe this is ‘uncharacteristic’ of my usual allegiances. But guys, “Black Panther” is pretty badass. For one, the cast is fabulous, from Chadwick Boseman to Lupita N’yongo to Angela Basset to FOREST FRIGGIN WHITAKER (who is NOT wasted in his role, unlike in “Rogue One”). For another, this movie brings some excellent social commentary to a universe that could easily coast on superhero bust ups. Not only do we get the return of T’Challa, one of the more compelling parts of “Captain America: Civil War”, we also get a SLEW of kickass ladies who get shit done. I had a very fun time while watching this movie, and it brings MUCH NEEDED representation to a traditionally super white universe. All hail T’Challa, to be totally certain.

Not Just Books: January 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bmjq1mzcxnjg4n15bml5banbnxkftztgwnzgwmjy4mzi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Movie: “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi

Look, this is by no means a perfect movie. But, being of the “prefer Star Trek anyways” mindset, lack of perfection in Star Wars is nothing new to me, and I’m just there for the fun characters and the sci-fi action. And this had plenty of both! I do think the movie was overly long and I questioned some of the decisions they made with some of the main character (hard to like Poe now; Finn’s storyline was functionally unnecessary). But I loved all of the parts of the story that, you know, actually focused on the Jedi. Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren’s arcs were all compelling and their performances were by far the strongest of the entire movie. In the end, I had a fun time watching it and am curious to see where things go next, and that’s pretty much all I ask of most movies.

mv5bmzjkyzg3mjqtodfhns00m2rlltgzndmtndrkodi1otdmy2u5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjq1njeynze-_v1_uy268_cr40182268_al_TV Show: “Wallander”

I’ve always loved British crime dramas, but somehow had missed this one featuring the always-amazing Kenneth Branagh. And when I say “British,” I mean “British actors speaking with a British accent but pretending that they’re Swedish living in Sweden and speaking Swedish and all the written things you see are in Swedish, but please ignore that the actors are totally still speaking English in a British accent.” But once you get over the weirdness of that decision, the show’s pretty great! Wallander is definitely of the “brooding & brilliant” character type, so if you’re looking for a lot of jokes and pep, this might not be your thing. But if you like character-driven, beautifully shot, detailed crime dramas, than this might be for you!

indexComputer Game: “Civilization VI”

I remember playing the very first “Civilization” game when I was a kid with my sister and Dad back in the 90s. Really, my Dad played while we watched since we were still pretty little. And ever since, every few years or so, I’ll remember how much I love this game series and download the most recent version and disappear off the edge of the earth for a month or so. And now my poor husband is being exposed to his first round of this habit life-long habit. In the few weeks, I’ve literally spent entire days playing this and doing nothing else. Have to win a Cultural Victory! Now a Science Victory! Now I must conquer the world! It’s an obsession. But, as always, this newest iteration is as enjoyable as the first, and for those who like strategic games, “Civilization” is probably one of the biggest ones out there. Plus, they may have just released a new expansion. My poor husband…

Kate’s Picks

mv5bndk3ntewnjc0mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzyxntmwmzi-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_Movie: “Call Me By Your Name”

With all the awards season buzz going on right now, “Call Me By Your Name” is getting tossed around as a serious contender, as it absolutely should be. I went to see it with my friend David, and we were absolutely blown away with how touching and moving it was. This coming of age romance about Elio and Oliver, his father’s grad student, is so beautifully filmed and told, with excellent performances by both Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. Their romance is touching and bittersweet, and the vistas and scenes of Italy made me feel like I was there in the moment. You will absolutely get lost in this movie, as it’s imagery and locales are completely intoxicating. I will say that you should probably bring a box of tissues with you, however, as by the end I was basically sobbing into my hands I was so emotionally rung out. Just ask David, I was a total mess. But it was worth it.

i-tonya-posterMovie: “I, Tonya”

I was in fourth grade when the whole Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan scandal happened, and totally remember the media frenzy surrounding it. Nancy Kerrigan was the injured ice princess, and Tonya Harding was the conniving bitch who arranged to have her knee cap broken. “I, Tonya” puts forth the notion that Harding was vilified unfairly in the media, ignorant to the means her husband and his friend went to. It addresses her horrific background of being a victim of classism from the skating community, and physical and emotional abuse from both her mother and her husband. Margot Robbie plays Harding with the perfect combination of defensive petulance and desperation, and Sebastian Stan plays her piece of shit husband Jeff to a T. But it’s Alison Janney, who plays her abusive mother with both the blackest of black humor and terrifying cruelty, who really stands out. It has made me rethink a lot of things about Tonya Harding and the trial by media she endured.

rsz_5a2385b56c9a0TV Show Rewatch: “Monk”

So about sixish years ago I went through a rough spell of getting a bad bad case of norovirus, and the show that I watched while wanting to die was the delightful detective dramedy “Monk”. It went off Netflix shortly thereafter, and I didn’t think much of it. But then near the holidays this past year I got a nasty case of the flu/maybe walking pneumonia(I think? I’ve had it before and boy was it similar), and was bedridden with no energy for a few days. So what did I find on Amazon Prime around that time? “Monk”! This series follows Adrian Monk, an OCD and highly anxious private investigator whose fabulous detective skills make him the best in the game, even if he’s emotionally a bit stunted. Tony Shalhoub is a gem as Monk, and the supporting cast is a real joy with lots of great chemistry. Namely, Ted “Buffalo Bill” Levine who plays police Captain Stottlemeyer, Monk’s best friend and colleague. True, it’s a bit dated now after being off the air for ten years, but I greatly enjoyed my rewatch.

Not Just Books: December 2017

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

NOTE: Yes, we know that this isn’t the last Monday of the month and this isn’t a scheduling snafu. Instead, we’re working on a super special and exciting post for next Monday that also happens to be Christmas Day, so keep your eyes out for that!

Serena’s Picks

1487358575482TV Show(s): ALL the HGTV home make over shows

Look, I’m not proud of it, but there’s a good reason for this pick, just hear me out. As Kate knows (as in, this is all she’s heard about for a year now), my husband and I have been finishing the basement of our house. It started as “partially finished” (read: moldy wreck), and over a year we did demo, leveled the floor, added in-floor heat, tiled the floor, re-structured and laid out rooms, built walls, added a reading nook under the stairs, added built-in book shelves, installed a gas fire place, etc etc. And we finally finished this month. And ever since, we’ve been enjoying the new TV room by doing absolutely nothing but veg out in front of it re-living our trauma through the various home makeover shows on HGTV. Seriously, I think we have PTSD, but we can’t stop watching and triggering ourselves. It’s a sick obsession at this point.

mv5bodk2yme5mjetmmqzny00mzzjltgxndatytgzmthlztg1m2e3xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjiwnti1mtm-_v1_sy1000_cr007061000_al_Netflix Show: “Glitch”

This seems to be one of those Netflix shows that is largely unknown by people. The first season came out two years ago, and yet somehow I never really looked at this one, and I’m not sure why. Set in Australia, the story rotates around 7 people who have mysteriously risen from the dead. No bells or whistles, they’re just back, and no one knows why. What’s even more strange is that they’re all back from different time periods, some as recently as a few years, some who have been dead for centuries. As the season progresses we learn more and more about each of these character’s lives and the suspense grows around the mystery of their return. I’ve really been enjoying binging this show and part of it is simply the fun of listening to their accents. “Come this way, mate. That’s right, now just take it easy” all in the classic Aussie drawl.

Movie: “Miracle on 34th Street”

 (I WILL RE-POST THIS ONE EVERY YEAR, I DON’T CARE!) Obviously this falls under the category of old movies we’ve “discovered,” but even that’s not true! Let’s be real, I watch this movie EVERY Christmas. It’s a classic for a reason and there is something to love for just about everyone. You have the romance, the friendship, the family, the humor, the villains, the court room action, and the feel goods. Not to mention, the adult in me loves this movie even more now than I did as a kid, with its main message being that even adults should believe in Santa Claus! And the larger message, that whether or not he was actually Santa Claus was beyond the point: Christmas is about loving and caring for everyone, and in that, Mr. Claus was the epitome of Christmas.

Kate’s Picks

search-party-s2-key-artTV Show: “Search Party Season 2”

So the first season of the darkly hilarious “Search Party” involved a group of New York Hipsters trying to solve the mystery of a missing girl. Dory (Alia Shawkat) is sucked into the disappearance of a college acquaintance named Chantal, and is convinced she met foul play. The season ends with them finding Chantal alive and well and vapid as ever…. except Dory and her friends accidentally killed a man who had been helping them look for her. Season 2 is dealing with the fallout… And yes, it’s still hilarious. My favorite character remains Elliott, played by the snide and snarly John Early, whose mild sociopathy and need for self preservation send him on a disconcerting, but also pretty amusing in some ways, mental breakdown. For those who like their humor dark, give “Search Party” a try, and know that Season 2 is pretty amazing.

23755322_130283744328423_6702880009203054438_nPodcast: “Bigfoot Collectors Club”

I have a fun little obsession with the supernatural and cryptozoology. My favorites include Mothman, El Chupacabra, and The Jersey Devil, and while I’m solidly a skeptic who wants to believe, it’s fun hearing stories about this stuff. Given this interest, I was pretty happy to discover the podcast “Bigfoot Collectors Club”. Hosted by Bryce Johnson and Michael McMillian (one of my faves), this fairly new podcast tackles strange and unnatural events, as well as tales of cryptids, aliens, ghosts, and personal experiences of the unexplained. While I may not be as true blue believing when it comes to Sasquatch, their enthusiasm and earnestness is contagious.

jingle_all_the_way_posterMovie: “Jingle All The Way”

So last year I talked about the movie “Scrooged”, but that is just ONE of MANY Christmas movies that I like to watch this time of year. This year I’m going to talk about the SMASH HIT HOLIDAY CLASSIC “Jingle All The Way”. Is it a good movie? No, not really. But it’s one that my husband and I HAVE to watch every year because 1) We love Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2) it takes place in Minnesota and treats both Minneapolis and St. Paul as interchangeable cities, and 3) Phil Hartman is treasure, may he rest in peace. The plot is flimsy, it feels like one long toy commercial, and it’s super dated and actually pretty problematic in a number of ways, but hey, we can’t deny a cheesy and stupid movie such as this? Put the cookie DOWN!! NOW!!!

What non books have you been enjoying this month? Let us know in the comments!

Not Just Books: November 2017

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks:

mv5bmjaxota2mjc3mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtmxmzixndm-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Netflix Show: “The Crown”

I’ve been staring at this as it continually shows up on my recommended viewing list for the last year or so on Netflix. For some reason, I never got around to watching it. What was wrong with me?? I mean, I love me some historical mini series. Perhaps it was my general lack of knowledge of the Windsor family as a whole. But once I finally started it, I was hooked! And I’ve found that my lack of knowledge might actually be making me enjoy it more. It’s gotten to the point now that I sometimes watch the show with a laptop open on my lap so I can Google the various different historical facts that come in the show. Was Prince Philip really an insecure prat? What about that fog?! Did Winston Churchill really burn a portrait of himself? These may be commonly known things to others, but I’ve tremendously enjoyed diving into this political drama and highly recommend it for fans of historical shows or fans of Queen Elizabeth. Yes, her corgis make appearances.

mv5bmtu2nja1odgzmf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtm2mti4mje-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_Movie: “John Wick”

Alas, yet another one where I am late to the game! But I do get there, you have to give me that. I’ve always been a fan of Keanu Reeves. Sure, his dialogue can come off as slightly stilted, but there’s no denying his success as an action movie star. And at its core, that’s all the movie “John Wick” is about. The plot is simple: jerk crime lord son (of course the actor who plays Theon Greyjoy in “Game of Thrones” was cast in this role. That poor actor, is he now just type cast as “weaselly, horrible, ultimately cowardly and insecure, villains?”) steals John Wick’s car and kills his dog (this was truly traumatizing for me, even though I knew it was coming!) Then the entire rest of the movie is a straight forward revenge plot with John Wick taking out anyone who gets in his way. And it was excellent! Other movies could learn a thing or do from this movie. Your story doesn’t have to be crazy complicated to be good.

mv5bmjuwmdgzotg3nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwnti4mdk5mzi-_v1_sy1000_cr006691000_al_Netflix Show: “Stranger Things 2”

Obviously “Stranger Things 2” had to make it on this list for me! I was one of those people who was practically counting down the days and then binged watched it immediately after it came out. Kate and I were talking about casting our friends as characters in it the other day (we’re nerdy like that, but that’s nothing new), and she was like “As long as I’m not Steve…” And my response was “What?!?! You obviously have watched the second season yet! Get on that girl!” Cuz, let’s be real, Steve was awesome. Alongside so many other new and awesome things! Eleven’s whole journey, Will’s more active presence within the show, the ever expanding and more terrifying Upside Down. There were a few bumps in the road, but in my opinion, season 2 was a complete success. And now I can happily go and binge watch both seasons back to back while I start up yet another countdown to season 3.

Kate’s Picks:

r-11021239-1508398177-4205-jpegAlbum: “John Carpenter: Anthology”

I am a gigantic fan of John Carpenter’s movies, as his range is huge and his stories are compelling. From “Halloween” to “Escape from New York” to my personal favorite “Starman”, Carpenter has created many worlds of horror, wonder, and even sometimes joy. He also tends to write the music for his movies (with a few exceptions, such as “Starman” and “The Thing”), and each theme has been compiled for his album “Anthology”. I was lucky enough to see him perform a number of the songs from this album in concert, and it was a serious pleasure to watch this icon rock out on stage with his synthesizer and back up band. I’ve been blasting the album ever since.

thedisastorartistteaserposterTrailer: “The Disaster Artist”

As a connoisseur of bad movies, it is one of my great shames that I have never seen “The Room”, the “Citizen Kane” of bad movies. This film is so notoriously bad that it has a cult following devoted to its awfulness. It was written, (sort of) directed by, and starred the enigmatic and strange Tommy Wiseau. The making of it was so bizarre that Greg Sestero, cast member and close friend of Wiseau, wrote a book about the experience of being in this movie. And now that has been turned into a movie starring James Franco as Tommy Wiseau. Apparently its getting RAVE reviews on the independent and film festival circuits. I am so excited to see this movie (a review of the book will be here in the near future), I have been watching the trailer in anticipation. It looks strange, funny, and oddly a bit sweet. Sign me up.

mv5bmjmyndkzmzi1of5bml5banbnxkftztgwodcxodg5mji-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_Movie: “Thor: Ragnarok”

Trust and believe, it was kind of a toss up between this and “Justice League” (as yes, I did enjoy that movie), but ultimately the Taika Waititi factor made this one the winner. As a DC Girl, that says a lot. Thor has always been my favorite member of the Avengers, if only because his stories don’t seem to take him TOO seriously. Add in the director of one of my faves, “What We Do In The Shadows”, and you get a really fun, really funny, and sugar blasted ride. Not only did we get much loved returns of Loki, Heimdall, and Thor himself, we also got some great new characters. While Valkyrie was EXCELLENT and Hela was BADASS, it was Jeff Goldblum’s quirky and dramatic Grandmaster who cemented this movie as a serious winner.

Not Just Books: October 2017

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

220px-supernatural_season_13TV Show: “Supernatural” Season 13 Premiere

“Supernatural” is one of my favorite shows and at this point, it is one of those strange things that I’ve watched longer than I’ve known good friends/husbands, have lived anywhere ever, etc etc. I mean, 13 years is a lot. So it’s no surprise that this is the second time I’ve highlighted it here, and it probably won’t be the last. This season’s start came after one of the largest “mass killings” of characters the show has seen for a while. We lost Crowley, Mamma Winchester, and Castiel all in one fell swoop. It’s not an exaggeration to say the boys are at the lowest they’ve ever been. And that’s saying a lot for a series that has sent both of these guys to hell itself on more than one occasion. But of course they can’t just be left to grieve! Oh,  no, nothing can be easy. And this season’s challenge comes in the form of Jack, the son of a human mother and Lucifer himself. Dean’s instinct is, of course, to shoot first, ask questions later. While Same wants to, of course, talk to Jack about his feelings. They’re going to be the worst “parents” ever, and I can’t wait to watch it all!

150442_aaMovie Trailer: “Pacific Rim: Uprising”

I love disaster movies. And I love action movies that walk the fine line between swagger and cheesiness. So it’s no surprise that I very much enjoyed the original “Pacific Rim,” questionable main character acting or not! I’m a simple-minded girl when it comes to my action movies, and robots punching monsters is fine by me. So I was very excited when I heard there was going to be a sequel, even more excited when I heard that John Boyega was going to star as the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost, and now, at excitement extreme after watching this trailer. Particularly, I love that they went all in on what was my main take away from the first film: physical weapons like swords and such are WAY more badass, and, importantly, effective, than those silly guns. I can’t wait to see what craziness this movie has in store!

mv5bmjmwodyzmzazmf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtq1mtk5mde-_v1_Mini Series: “Death Comes to Pemberley”

I have a rotation of Jane Austen mini series and movies that I routinely cycle through when needing to decompress. The obvious ones like the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice” are all there, as well as the more controversial ones like the late 2000s version of “Emma” which some claim strayed too far from the book (I don’t care, Johnny Lee Miller is Mr. Knightley! Say no more!). But “Death Comes to Pemberley” has managed to wiggle its way on to this list as well, starting from the severely disadvantaged position of not being, well, based on a Jane Austen novel! However, it does everything right in every other way. The acting is superb, the mystery is well-drawn, and it does what would have seemed impossible and created a believable sequel to “Pride and Prejudice.” In particular, Darcy’s struggles to really “walk to the walk” that Elizabeth has modeled for him are well-explored. Sure, she has introduced him to a new way of thinking and behaving, but when unexpected and threatening events occur, it’s not surprise that he falls back onto old habits. This is the perfect mix of romance, mystery, and historical fiction and well worth a watch for any Jane Austen fan.

Kate’s Picks

lore-tshirt-artPodcast/Amazon Show: “Lore”

I’ve had multiple people tell me that I should listen to the “Lore” Podcast. It’s both history and folklore, scary and interesting, as Aaron Mahnke researches and tells tales from history about unexplained and/or creepy things. I don’t know what took me so long to finally start listening, but now that I have I’m hooked. And for those of you who may like watching more than listening, it is now a show on Amazon Prime as well! From the history of H.H. Holmes to Robert the Doll to faerie folk tales from around the world, “Lore” approaches scary and unsettling things from a very calm and research driven perspective. The show is a bit more expanded than the podcast episodes, and gives us dramatizations of some of the most beloved podcast episodes… which ends up being very, very upsetting sometimes.

wolf20creek-season-1-postersTV Show: “Wolf Creek”

Those of you who are familiar with the “Wolf Creek” movie series know that they’re definitely not for the squeamish. They’re pretty much just Psycho Killer Mick Taylor (based on actual Australian serial killer Ivan Millat) tearing through unsuspecting tourists in the bloodiest ways possible. But then the TV show came out, and spun that idea on it’s head. Mick Taylor is still killing people, but after he kills the entire family of college student Eve, she decides that she is going to hunt him down and take her revenge. It’s a fun reversal, as now we watch as Eve and Mick stalk each other throughout the outback. John Jarratt is back as Mick, and Lucy Fry plays Eve with the perfect mix of determination, grief, and blood thirst. On top of it all, the cinematography is breathtaking, making Australia look both beautiful and daunting.

mindhunter-696x324Netflix Show: “Mindhunter”

I highlighted the trailer when it first dropped a couple months ago, and now the show is finally here and it was worth the wait. As someone who has always liked crime procedurals, I was expecting it to be kind of along the same lines, but instead “Mindhunter” is more philosophical in its approach, having its characters suss things out about the minds of serial killers through conversation. Jonathan Groff is a shining star as Agent Holden Ford, a young agent who wants to try to understand the minds of serial killers in hopes of being able to predict their behavior. At times he seems naive, at other times he seems incredibly insightful, and at all times he is dedicated and intrepid. The scenes between Ford and serial killer Ed Kemper are disturbing and fascinating and are alone worth the watch.

Not Just Books: September 2017

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks:

mv5bmjm3mjq1mzkxnl5bml5banbnxkftztgwodk1odgymji-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Movie: “Baby Driver”

The name alone is confusing for this one. Add to that a very low level marketing scheme for a summer movie, and you couldn’t be blamed for blinking in confusion at this entry. But let me tell you, if you enjoy action movies, especially ones with good car chases ala “The Bourne Identiy,” this is the movie for you. It’s all about Baby, a young man with some definite driving skills who gets caught up in a criminal underworld filled with unhinged bank robbers. Beyond the superb action scenes, this movie has a killer soundtrack. And without spoiling the movie, the soundtrack doesn’t exist to simply backup the movie’s action, but plays a rather pivotal role in the story itself. Sound ambiguous? Good! Check it out and find out what I mean!

mv5bmtewmduymzgyndveqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdq3odu3odiy-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_TV Show: “Outlander”

Droughtlander is over! Finally! It’s been almost two years since Season 2 ended with Claire and Jaime being torn apart by the centuries that exist between their own time periods. Confession: I didn’t even finish Season 2 until just this summer purely because I knew that it ended on, essentially, a cliffhanger. And since it took forever and a day for this third season to make it to our screens, I feel like this was the right choice. My other confession is that I haven’t read the books this series is based on. But from a non-reader perspective, this show definitely stands on its own, full of historical drama, romance, and two outstanding lead characters. If you like period piece dramas with a heavy dose of romance (and can stand some heavy stuff, cuz this show definitely doesn’t shy away from that), definitely check out the first two seasons, and now the few first episodes of season three, of “Outlander.”

mv5bmtcynteyoty0m15bml5banbnxkftztgwotaynzu3mdi-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Movie: “The LEGO Batman Movie”

This is late coming, but I sadly missed getting to see this while it was in theaters, so I’ve been patiently monitoring my Netflix DVD queue to move it up to the top once it was released. And I’m glad I did! As we all know, here at Library Ladies, we’re definitively Team Superman. But, in many ways, that’s what makes this movie so perfect for me! My biggest complaint about Batman, and especially the more recent movies with him, is the overly serious take they had on this hero. Not so here. All of Batman’s flaws are played perfectly and hilariously! It’s also chock full of references to other iterations of Batman that we’ve seen in comics, TV, and movies. I’m sure I didn’t catch them all, but those I did were great. Robin and the Joker were great foils to Batman, and in many ways, these relationships had much more heart than we’ve seen in any relationships given to us with past versions of the character. Definitely worth seeing if you (like me) have been living under the rock for the last 6 months and somehow missed this one.

Kate’s Picks:

mv5bmtg2mzi0ntq3ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwodmymzc1mde-_v1_uy1200_cr9306301200_al_TV Show: “Bob’s Burgers”

Last summer I binged through the first couple of seasons of the hilarious and actually kind of heartwarming show “Bob’s Burgers”, but it tapered off when Netflix ran out of episodes. I’ve picked it up again, though, and it’s still such a great sitcom that I’ve been obsessing over making my way through it until there aren’t any more episodes to watch. The Belchers are such a funny and eccentric, but absolutely loving, family, and I love watching the shenanigans that they get into as they run a burger restaurant. It’s hard to pick a favorite because all of them are great, but Mom Linda and Daughter Louise are probably the characters who make me laugh the most. I do have to say that there is a certain, relatable something to awkward and somewhat odd teenager Tina, though, and I really do have to applaud the show for giving us a teenage girl that is comfortable with who she is and has no qualms about her eccentricities. “Bob’s Burgers” is a real hoot.

mv5bmjazmte1nzqxnf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjcwody3mti-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Movie: “Everything, Everything”

Though my usual book fare doesn’t contain much on the romance front, every once in a blue moon I stumble into a book that is both romantic, and appealing to me. I absolutely LOVED Nicola Yoon’s book “Everything, Everything” (putting it on my Top Ten list in 2016), and was interested in seeing the movie. I ended up watching it twice on our long plane trips to and from New Zealand, because I couldn’t get enough. While there are some small differences, it’s still the story of Madeline, a girl raised indoors her entire life because she was diagnosed with SCID, an autoimmune disorder. When Ollie moves in next door and they start communicating via internet and text, she starts to want more from her life. Amandla Stenberg is the perfect Maddie, and her chemistry with the adorable Nick Robinson is supercharged. It’s romantic and sad and I just really like it.

maxresdefaultTV Show: “American Horror Story: Cult”

To be quite honest, I have a very love/hate relationship with the horror anthology series “American Horror Story.” Some seasons I loved (“Coven”), others I thought tried way too hard to be edgy (“Murder House,” “Asylum”), and others I was solidly meh on (… the rest?). But I keep coming back, and this time it’s “Cult.” Sure, I still find it a bit on the ‘trying too hard’ side in some ways, but then there are other things about it that I really like (Billie Lorde and Billy Eichner specifically). While I’m not sure that my opinion of it will end up like my deep love for “Coven” or my disdain/ indifference towards other seasons, I do know that as of right now I’m entertained. And really, that’s all that matters when it comes to this show. I AM STILL HOLDING OUT HOPE FOR FINN WITROCK TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE, THOUGH.