Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #256: Eating & drinking while reading

Today's Topic: 
Favorite Things to 
Eat/Drink While Reading

Happy Tuesday! So this is a weird one for me because I straight up do not eat while reading. Like, ever. I'm not sure why this is exactly. I never really thought about it until this week's topic popped up and I started trying to think of what to include. Literally the only thing I EVER consume while reading (aside from water) is one particular flavor of tea by one particular brand. I present to you: 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Monday, September 16, 2019

What did I just watch? A Carnival Row discussion

Happy Monday! Normally a review of a TV show would be included in my monthly Saturday Screen Time feature, but this one felt like it needed a bit more room for discussion. I recently finished Carnival Row and was... underwhelmed. This post will be split into a non-spoiler review and a spoilery discussion in case you haven't watched yet!


At the end of August Carnival Row was released on Amazon Prime. I'd been hearing buzz about this show for months so of course I was intrigued when it finally popped up as available to watch! I didn't have much in the way of expectations. I haven't enjoyed Cara Delevingne in anything I've seen her in (and I was surprised she was a main character in this show) and I haven't seen Orlando Bloom in much since the mid-2000s, but have always enjoyed him. All that to say I went in not expecting much, but hoping to be impressed.

Right off the bat I had a hard time getting into this show. The first episode was extremely slow and, while (mostly) pretty to look at, there didn't seem to be much substance. Still, I gave it one more episode, then one more. Everyone said that the third episode was the best of the bunch and would absolutely hook me! Episode three did show the backstory, but it was rushed through and didn't seem to lend much to the overall story beyond setting up the relationship between Philo (Bloom) and Vignette (Delevingne).

Carnival Row is a rare example of a show that is trying to do way too much while also not accomplishing a whole lot. Philo is a police officer living in the Burge who had a previous relationship with Vignette, a fae, during the war seven years prior. Philo faked his death to keep Vignette safe, which she discovers when she arrives in the Burge after she's chased away from her home. Their relationship doesn't have much to it, having ended years earlier, but they try to convince the viewer for eight episodes that they actually still love each other. Their chemistry is non-existent and their romance doesn't add anything to the story, which, despite the show's marketing, is all about Philo.

This is really a murder mystery at its core. There's also tons of infighting between politicians, bickering amongst a few families, extreme racism against the fae by literally everyone except Philo, Lovecraftian monsters, steampunk technology, magic, and a random Pride and Prejudice retelling between characters with nothing else to do with the plot. It's a lot. And yet it's unbearably slow until the last two episodes. At that point everything happens so fast that I have to wonder why this wasn't spread a bit more evenly. I actually feel that this season could have been split in two with much more backstory about the war between the fae and humans.

I wanted to love this show, even if I didn't expect to, but I definitely didn't expect to dislike it as much as I did. There was a ton of promise, but Carnival Row was simultaneously too much and too little. This is definitely a case of style over substance and I truly wish Guillermo del Toro had been the one at the helm as he was rumored to be originally.


The random werewolves in episode three seemed to be setting up something bigger but never was mentioned again.

The Pact - what even is it? Who are they? They're there in episode three as the Big Bad that bring Philo and Vignette together, but then what? Apparently they weren't a big obstacle considering the library was recovered.

The romance between Imogen and Agreus happened entirely too quickly to be believable. Someone figured out that the story must have taken place over about ten days (excluding episode three). In that time, Imogen went from being extremely racist against pucks to having an affair with him, to leaving her home and family behind to sail off with him into the sunset. This plot line didn't seem to fit within the bigger story, but if it was going to exist I wish it had had more time to develop.

Piety's motivations - what were they exactly? Was it just that she wanted her son to do great things? How does that tie into kidnapping her own son and killing a bunch of people related to Philo, as well as her husband? It was so over the top and unbelievable.

Who even is Sophie?

The sex and violence in this show were probably the most gratuitous and unnecessary I've ever seen. I have no issue with sex and violence in television, but the scenes in Carnival Row seem to have been put there for shock value or to keep up with other popular shows. Did we really need to see a man with goat legs having sex with a woman against a wall? Did we really need to see intestines pulled out of literally every murder victim (there were several)? Was there any reason we needed to see Vignette awkwardly balancing to sit on top of Philo in a cave? Does ANYONE in this universe own a bed?


I just don't understand the whole thing. There were parts that I liked, of course. I enjoyed the backstory of the war between the races like most everyone else, but I wish the rest of the show had been a little more cohesive. Is it a murder mystery? Is it a period romance? Is it steampunk? Is it Lovecraftian horror? Is it a political drama? What is this show??

My hope is that season two will be more polished, but at this point I'm honestly not sure I'll watch it.

Have you seen Carnival Row yet?
Did you love or hate it?
Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Weekly Recap: 9/8 - 9/14


Hi everyone! This week has been SO MUCH less stressful than the last few. We had a tiny storm scare that ended up being an off the coast tropical storm, so just another breezy day here in Central Florida. The temperature actually stayed below 90 for a full day and I couldn't believe it! In other non-stressful news, all of my tests came back normal from the doctor! I don't have an autoimmune disease and she doesn't know what caused the original abnormal ANA result, but now it's down to a reasonable level. That's a huge weight lifted!

My mystery binge continued this week with Neverworld Wake and now Capturing the Devil as well as an adult mystery by C.J. Tudor, who I've never read before. I'm not sure what's gotten into me as I've taken a step away from fantasy and towards mysteries. I'm attributing it to Halloween getting nearer. I did take some time for fantasy though and watched the first two Lord of the Rings movies (extended, of course) for the first time in a few years. I'm definitely planning on watching Return of the King this coming week!






Monday review of Needing to Love You
The topic was TBR books I'm avoiding for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday ARC review of Rules For Vanishing
On Saturday I did the Fall Book Tag



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 14, 2019

Fall Book Tag

Happy weekend! This weekend it's below 90 degrees and I even felt a little breeze. There are pumpkin spice snacks out and Halloween decorations are going up at Target. All of this must mean it's almost fall! What a wonderful time for a fun new book tag! The Fall Book Tag was created by Bionic Bookworm.

Wilder Girls has been one of my favorite reads of the year! It's dark and bleak and totally unique. I definitely hope to see more spooky and weird, fresh books in the years to come.

The endings of both books in the Sweet Black Waves series have both blown me away! This author knows how to write a twist ending that will absolutely break your heart and keep you dying for more. 

I don't read a lot of warm, fuzzy books, but The Selection series definitely was on the light and fluffy side. America and Maxon, while they have their issues, are one of the most warm and fuzzy couples I've ever read about! 

This book didn't get nearly enough hype! Dry is an amazing read and it also happens to have a lovely red-orange cover that perfectly fits this prompt.

Not many books are truly non-stop, but Dark Matter was close. This story kept me on the edge of my seat and now I'm reminded that I very much need to pick up Blake Crouch's most recent book!

Is anyone shocked? I am dying to read the next book in this series to see what happens with Cardan and Jude! Not much longer to wait now!

What's your favorite part of Fall?
Have you had your first pumpkin spice latte yet?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

ARC Review: Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Title: Rules For Vanishing
Author: Kate Alice Marshall
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Add to Goodreads

In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister--at all costs.

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her--and who won't make it out of the woods?

It's been exactly one year since Sara's sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn't know whether her former friends no longer like her...or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to "play the game" and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca--before she's lost forever. And even though she's hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends--and their cameras--following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.

I picked up Rules For Vanishing at ALA this summer when I spotted the spooky cover. When I saw the comparison to The Blair Witch Project, all bets were off. I had to have this book! I didn't know much about Rules For Vanishing other than that several friends told me it was extremely creepy. It definitely is that!

Becca is the MC of this story set a year after her sister's disappearance. She and a group of estranged friends decide to go back to the location of the mysterious road they've all heard stories about to see if it will appear. When it does, they set off not knowing exactly what's in store but determined to find Becca's sister and bring her home. This is a more character focused horror novel and, while I did enjoy the characters, that's really not why I pick up a horror book.

Right off the bat I will say that this is one of the most terrifying YA books I've read in a long time, at least until the last little bit. I am not claustrophobic in the sense of fearing small spaces, but I have a fear of being trapped in any place with no way out. Cruise ships, as much as I love them, freak me out because there's no way off until it docks. I had the same feeling with the road in this book. Once the characters became trapped on the road I was so physically uncomfortable that I had to put the book down at times. I loved it!

I really enjoyed the writing style the author used! Rules For Vanishing is a mix of your standard narrative, interviews, and documents. It's a style that I've enjoyed in the past and would love to see more of in the future. It made this an extremely quick and tense read.

Where this story went wrong for me was the inclusion of a ton of mythology extending beyond the road. I really didn't think it needed so much backstory and explanation. Honestly, that's where horror books often go wrong for me. Without spoiling anything, there's a tonal shift towards the end and the horror changes to something altogether different. I know that a lot of people enjoyed the way this book ended, but it ruined the horror a bit for me and I really wish the story ended with the road.

Rules For Vanishing was a quick and super scary read, at least until the last several chapters. I do wish that the focus had remained on the road, but the shift definitely didn't ruin my reading experience. I highly recommend picking this one up this October if you're in the market for something spooky!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #255: TBR books I'm avoiding

Today's Topic: 
Books On My TBR I’m 
Avoiding Reading and Why 

Happy Tuesday! This week's topic was fun because I was able to figure out exactly why I haven't read some of the books on my list. Mostly it has to do with being a mood reader, but some I'm also waiting to get audiobooks of. I tend to listen to a lot of books that I'm not sure I'll get through if I pick up the physical copy. 


Air Awakens by Elise Kova
The Binding by Bridget Collins
Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Inspection by Josh Malerman
Recursion by Blake Crouch


Anyone Else? by Angela Scott
Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
Other Words For Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Book Review: Needing to Love You by Erin Rylie

Title: Needing to Love You (Houston's Finest #2)
Author: Erin Rylie
Publication Date: April 12, 2019
Publisher: Independently Published
Pages: 273
Add to Goodreads

Carlos Ramirez has always prided himself on two things: being damn good at his job on the Houston police force and being able to land any woman he wants. When a devastating car accident leaves him crippled and in excruciating pain, he begins to rely too heavily on his prescription painkillers. The only person who can help him heal is the only woman who has ever rejected him—and on more than one occasion. Living with Kelsey while he works through physical therapy wasn’t anything he ever expected to happen, but it might just be what he needs.

After a divorce that left her doubting her ability to love, Kelsey Byrne wants nothing to do with relationships. Unfortunately for her, the only man she could see herself loving needs a place to live and help while he recovers. She had a hard time pushing him away after a one-night stand, so how can she possibly keep him at arm’s length when he’s in her house every day, playing with her son, cooking her meals, and leaving her cute notes every morning? Carlos may be working his way into her heart one sweet gesture at a time, but can she give him everything knowing that she’s more than a little broken inside?

Needing to Love You is way outside of my comfort zone, but recently I was in the mood for an adult romance and this is the book I reached for! It ended up making for a great, quick read for my flight to Washington DC and back.

Carlos Ramirez is recovering after an accident and subsequent surgery when he finds himself at the mercy of Kelsey who has offered him a place to stay. He moves in with her and quickly finds himself at a pity party and in too deep with his prescription painkillers. As Kelsey tries to understand how to navigate Carlos's issues as well as her own, the two find themselves being drawn together and romance ensues.

I really loved Kelsey and Carlos! It was definitely difficult to watch Carlos struggle with addiction and feelings of not being good enough after his accident. I also hated seeing the two of them push each other away instead of leaning on each other when they both needed it. But the two of them when they were getting along were a fantastic pair! I loved Carlos's snarky attitude, Kelsey's quirk of spouting off random fun facts, and their banter back and forth. Their relationship was sweet and obviously passionate.

My favorite thing about this book is that, while it was a fantastic, spicy romance novel, it had a lot of depth and tackled real life issues. There were painful moments dealing with addiction, depression, and moving on after painful relationships. I felt that Erin Rylie handled these issues really well and I loved that it made the story so much more impactful.

Although this is actually the second book in the Houston's Finest series, it read fine as a standalone and I felt like enough was filled in by the author that skipping the first book was okay. There were certainly times when I would have been more in the loop had I read the first book, though.

Needing to Love You was my first book by this author, but I can definitely see myself picking up others!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Weekly Recap: 9/1 - 9/7


Hi everyone! This week started off incredibly stressful with the hurricane heading our way. My area got off extremely lucky and only got a bit of wind and rain Tuesday night. Sadly, my brother was not able to make his visit due to airport closures. I spent the next couple days tracking the storm as it made its way up to my family in North Carolina, but their area was spared also. I really feel for everyone who was so terribly affected by this beast of a hurricane. 

Despite no real effects from the storm, much of Central Florida was completely shut down Tuesday and Wednesday so I took the opportunity to check out Galaxy's Edge with pretty small crowds! Sadly, I was unimpressed. As someone who grew up on the Original Trilogy and was in middle school and high school when the Prequel Trilogy was coming out, I was really disappointed not to see more from the films I grew up with. The atmosphere was really nice to look at, but I got the feeling that it was more of a well themed shopping mall and the merch I wanted wasn't even there since most things for sale were based on the Sequel Trilogy or generic Star Wars-looking stuff. I'll probably go back and give it another chance, but first impressions weren't great.

I'm happy to report that my dog decided he LOVED his eye drops, which made it a lot easier to give them, and he also got a clean bill of health on Friday! In other happy news, I got my keeper copy of Loki and two copies of Darkdawn, despite not having read the series yet... I should probably get started on that soon.






Monday audiobook review of A Dance of Silver and Shadow
The topic was books outside my comfort zone for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday review and giveaway of The First Time I Died
I changed up the format for Saturday Screen Time



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 7, 2019

Saturday Screen Time #36: Mind-benders, Nostalgia, and Dramatic Poldarks

Happy Saturday, everyone! This month's Saturday Screen Time and those going forward will have a bit of a different format. Since this is going to be a monthly feature from here on out, there will be a few more movies and shows featured than in the past. I'm splitting these into movies, TV, DNFd, and watchlist. On with the show!


Dark Water - I've had Dark Water on my watchlist for years and was just waiting for it to become available to stream. I even almost gave in and bought the Arrow release, but decided to make sure I liked it first. I did not. This movie was not a horror movie in any way, despite being categorized as one. It's a story about a mother and daughter who move into a building where a girl went missing years before. There are a couple creepy moments, but it's really more of a family drama than anything else, and a boring one at that. (1/5 stars)

Coherence - Coherence was one I'd seen before, although I couldn't remember the details. I was surprised again to see Xander from Buffy as one of the main characters! This is a movie that plays with multiple dimensions in a way that I absolutely love. I was never super sure what was going on until near the end and there was always a sense of unease, although this is definitely not horror. I'd recommend this if you enjoyed The Endless or Triangle or other mind-bending sci-fi movies! (4/5 stars)

The Innkeepers - This is another movie that has been on my watchlist for awhile. I went in not knowing a lot about The Innkeepers and I wasn't too sure once it got started. This is about two paranormal researchers working the front desk at a haunted hotel before it closes for good. Like Dark Water, this movie doesn't have many scares, although I did enjoy the atmosphere a bit more. I wasn't honestly sure what The Innkeepers was trying to be. It was pretty campy and at times downright funny. It wasn't what I was looking for, but I didn't hate it. (2.5/5 stars)

Dogtooth - So Dogtooth is one of those movies. The kind you know going in is going to be extremely weird and unsettling. I made sure I was in the right headspace before I watched this and I've decided this director just really isn't for me. This is the second movie by Yorgos Lanthimos I've seen and I just can't get on board. I did enjoy this a bit more than The Killing of a Sacred Deer. I at least found the characters more likable. I wish there was more information about the world and the parents' motivations. There were a lot of super uncomfortable scenes in this movie involving the siblings and I definitely wouldn't watch it again. (1.5/5 stars)

Timecrimes - This has been recommended to me multiple times since I love Coherence, The Endless, and Triangle. Unfortunately, Timecrimes just was not on the same level. I do appreciate the way time travel was approached in this movie, but that's really all I liked. The main character was a moron and his actions never made any sense at all. The characters did things because the plot told them to. None of the characters were remotely likable and it became extremely repetitive quickly. I can't recommend this at all. (1/5 stars)

Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling - I didn't even realize this was a thing until I stumbled upon it while browsing Just Watch! I was a huge Rocko's Modern Life fan as a child of the 90s and was so excited to find a short film set 20 years from the end of the show! Static Cling was super nostalgic without being annoying about it, while also moving Rocko's life into the 21st century in a hilarious way. The jokes were on point and I loved the seamless inclusion of an original character being trans. If you're a fan of the original Rocko, you'll probably love this too! (4.5/5 stars)


The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 - Finally, an amazing season! I have watched The Handmaid's Tale since the very first episode and, while I've enjoyed it, I've become increasingly annoyed with June. Season four June is fed up and is an absolute badass! Like past seasons, this one was extremely uncomfortable to watch and is definitely not something I can binge. The ending was so bittersweet, but I can't wait to see the next season! (4.5/5 stars)

Poldark Season 4 - This is another show I've been watching since the beginning, although I have to watch it on the PBS schedule so I'm a bit behind. The season started off slow and I took a break in the middle. With Ross going to London and the various subplots with random characters cheating on each other, it was a bit overdramatic, and Ross is as frustrating as always. Thankfully it picked up about 3/4 of the way through and I binged it from there on out. Now I'm dying to see what happens next, especially with Drake and Morwenna! (4/5 stars)

Big Brother Season 16 - Big Brother has been recommended to me time and again since I'm a huge Survivor fan! I finally got my CBS free trial and decided to give it a go. I had no idea where to start, but the first HD season seemed like a good a place as any. From what I've seen, this season was pretty controversial and boring compared to others. It was fairly predictable and the bro alliance was irritating, but it was compulsively watchable. I didn't love it, but I'm willing to give it one more season. (3.5/5 stars)


Chernobyl - I am fascinated with Chernobyl and it's on my bucket list to visit it one day! The first two episodes of the HBO series had me glued to my seat and I was absolutely riveted. Episode three was interesting, but by episode four I was struggling to stay interested. It actually took me two days to get through the fourth episode and then I just kind of gave up and canceled HBO before the next billing cycle. I know that this is an extremely popular show, but I felt it was a bit too drawn out and think I would have enjoyed it more as a movie.

The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 - This was actually my second attempt at watching The Haunting of Hill House. The first time I watched one episode and found it to be too slow and the picture too dark to see much. I decided to give it a second chance and determined to watch at least a few episodes. I made it to the end of episode five before I gave up. I know a lot of people enjoy this show, but it's just painfully slow and I just can't make myself care enough to watch another five episodes of it.


What childhood show would you like to see come back?
Do you like movies that make you think?
Let me know in the comments!