Sunday, December 30, 2018

Last Sunday Snapshot of 2018 + Year-End Round Up!

2018 best nine on instagram
My top 9 Instagram pics of 2018

Currently reading:

Hercule Poirot's Christmas and that's about it. I finished Christmas on the Island yesterday morning after sitting up reading until 6:30 am and haven't settled on a new book yet.


the mule
The Mule, starring Clint Eastwood

Not what I was expecting. I thought this would be yet another depressing Eastwood movie à la Gran Torino or Million Dollar Baby. Instead it shoots for more of a classic cat-and-mouse crime movie vibe. It's not about drug running per se, but about an old man who's looking for human connection, especially with his estranged family. Eastwood does a fantastic job, of course, and there are humorous moments to lighten it up. Overall quite entertaining, if predictable.

the man who invented christmas
The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Dan Stevens

I have my doubts this is an accurate portrayal of the life and times of Charles Dickens, but whatever. It's a little muddled and a bit too long, especially since it's basically an unnecessary rehashing of A Christmas Carol, but I'm not going to complain about watching a movie with Dan Stevens in it.

mary poppins returns
Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda

I mean. It was okay. There were moments of magic and joy–I enjoyed the balloon scene at the end–but other parts felt formulaic and beyond recycled. Which is sad considering there's only one other Mary Poppins movie. Blunt had some good lines ("We're embarking on an adventure, children, let's not ruin it with so many questions!"), but Miranda was in there WAY too much for no reason other than, I guess, he's Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Also, I was completely distracted trying to figure out what time period this is set in, AND the woman next to me kept treating the theater as her own personal living room, checking her phone and constantly explaining the plot of the first Mary Poppins to the person next to her. 1. IT'S NOT THAT COMPLICATED A PLOT, and 2., maybe you should have broken it down before seeing this movie.

Anyway. I'm not sad I saw it, but I have no desire to watch it again.

This year in heidenkindom:

What a year! If you'd have told me 12 months ago I'd close out the year with a full-time (and so far deadly boring) job that started at 8 in the morning I would have said you were cray cray. But it happened.

Some major events from this year:

I went to Paris! (In case you couldn't tell by all the photos of the Eiffel Tower, above.) This was truly an epic trip where I fell in love with Montmartre, kicked a few things off the bucket list, and drank champagne every day. Nice work if you can get it. I didn't meet the love of my life or anything (sorry, romantics), but it did make me do some revaluation of where I was, emotionally speaking, and what I really wanted.

I also got really into budgeting this year, thanks to YNAB. It's kind of like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up but for money. In just six months it's helped me get and stay clear of credit card debt! I was able to pay for all my Christmas gifts with cash I'd saved up, and I saved up for a new windshield for my car. I also started an investment fund for a new computer a few years down the line. I can't recommend this system or the book enough!

In sad news, my last living grandparent died in September, and I can't help but think that now the various branches of the family will go their separate ways, especially since we live in a different state. It's crazy how one person can hold a family together.

Year in Books

As for my year in books, last year I complained that I only read 80 books. Well, this year was even worse: I read a whole 51 books. Pa.the.tic.

On the plus side, I had the same number of 5-star reads this year as I did last year, and one less 4-star read (10 and 13, respectively), so percentage-wise that's a huge jump in quality! Here are some of my favorite books from the past year:

rick steves paris
Best Paris Guidebook: Rick Steves Paris

With unique walking tours, humor, and spot-on advice, this is definitely the one guidebook to Paris you should buy if you can only buy one.

speak easy speak love
Favorite historical/YA novel: Speak Easy, Speak Love

This adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing set in 1920s Long Island is absolutely perfect. PERFECT. I adore the setting, the romance between Beatrice and Benedict is hilarious, the romance between Prince and Hero is swoon-worthy, and there are gangsters and speakeasies and government agents and jazz singers and everything you could want from a book set in the 1920s. Highly recommended!

kissing tolstoy
Best book to read while traveling: Kissing Tolstoy

Penny Reid can be hit-and-miss for me, but I read this book while traveling to and from my grandmother's funeral and it was absolutely delightful. Short, smart, irreverent, funny–basically Reid at her best.

how not to die
Life-changing non-fiction read: How Not to Die

I've seen docs on Netflix about how eating meat is terrible for you, but for some reason this book scared the bejesus out of me way when the documentaries didn't. It's stuffed full of a ton of information, all cited out the wazoo with peer-reviewed scientific studies.

And yes, I know the title is click-baity and sensationalistic. Admittedly the more accurate How Not to Die of Completely Preventable Diseases by Changing Your Diet just doesn't have the same ring to it.

the cafe by the sea
Favorite new series: Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan

Colgan, take me away! I took a chance on The Cafe by the Sea after reading Angie's review this year and I'm so glad I did. Colgan is brilliant at telling a story and building characters who are flawed but you come to love. The setting is a remote island in northern Scotland and I have never wanted to visit someplace so cold and dark before. Perfect escapist reading! (Although the whole thing with Saif and Lorna is beyond irritating at this point.)

the wedding date
Favorite romance: The Wedding Date

Perfect balance between swoon-worthy romance and a completely plausible story that feels grounded in reality. Not an easy combo to pull off. A definite must-read.

the other woman
Favorite non-romance novel: The Other Woman

Another winner from Silva, and an indictment of Putin and the Russians' grab for power across the globe. On par with The English Girl imo.

That's my year in short! What books did you read or movies you watched this year that you loved? Have any New Year's Resolutions?

A happy New Year and wonderful 2019 to all my readers! See you on the flip side.

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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sunday Snapshot for the Start of December

toiles from the house of dior
Toiles from the House Dior

Currently Reading:

Still slogging through The Silkworm and The Woman in White. At this rate I'll probably finish TWiW before The Silkworm.


das  boot
Das Boot, starring, idk, German guys

My dad made a friend who used to work on a submarine, and now he's forcing him to watch all these sub movies. I actually watched this in high school German class, but had forgotten a lot about it. For example, HOW FREAKING LONG IT IS. Other than that it's surprisingly good. It's more about the psychological warfare between the Germans and the English than explosions and shootings. And even though it is insanely long–I'm talking LotR level of self-indulgence here–it's very tense and will keep your attention. A classic for a reason!

the crimes of grindelwald
The Crimes of Grindelwald, starring all the people from Fantastic Beasts + Johnny Depp, Jude Law, someone who may or may not be Shawn Mendes, and Zoë Kravitz

UHG. Well, as you know, I liked Fantastic Beasts even though it felt strangely hollow. But this movie... smh. Redmayne is still awesome, but the script is an absolute disaster. Everything the characters do comes out of nowhere, there doesn't seem to be a plot, and the actors spend an inordinate amount of time awkwardly STARING. At each other, at things, stare stare stare. I told my mom if they'd only cut the staring out the movie would have been 90 minutes long! But then the dialog wasn't exactly sparkling, so perhaps staring was the best option.

And don't get me started on the WTF elements like Queenie brainwashing Jacob, Nagini's role in the film, or the fact that I still have yet to know what crimes Grindelwald committed during the course of the movie. Aside from the crime of stealing two and half hours of my life, that is.


green book
Green Book, starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen

In the 1960s a Brooklyn nightclub bouncer is hired by a record label to drive a pianist around and "take care of things" during his tour. Why? Because the tour is in the Deep South and the pianist is black.

This is a well-made film with awesome performances by Mortensen and Ali, great set and costume design, and a story that's entertaining and touching without being sappy or maudlin. I truly enjoyed watching it, but after thinking about it more, certain aspects started to bother me. For example, the hero of the story is clearly Tony–Mortensen's character–and Dr. Shirley's character is never really fleshed out. How did he wind up a fancy-pants piano player who lives above Carnegie Hall? Where was he born? Where did he go to school? Why aren't he and his brother speaking? None of these questions are ever addressed and others, like what's driving him to do this tour in the Deep South, are given the yada yada treatment. "You know, genius and stuff, yada yada yada." I don't think it's a bad movie by any means, it's just definitely a film about race for white people that feels like it didn't put a lot of thought into the one black character.

This month in heidenkindom:

My big announcement this month is that I GOT A JOB! Like, a full-time job with benefits and whatnot. It's at a university and I'll be working in communications. Pretty exciting, although I'm not looking forward to getting up every morning.

Other happenings this past month included a trip to Denver for Dior: From Paris the World. I'm no fashion expert, but this exhibit was pretty impressive. I loved the exhibition design and wish I'd taken an audioguide, as the signage was minimal. A show well worth seeing if you're in the area! Here's a link to my article about it on Dropbox if you're interested in learning more.

I would write more but I'm STARVING and this computer keeps giving me the spinning ball of death whenever I try to add more pics to this post, so I think I'm just going to give up and make dinner. Have a great week everyone!

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