Category Archives: 2015 books

2015: My Entertainment Year in Review

2015 was a tough year but, as is often the case, much good was sprinkled throughout. In the realm of entertainment, there was lots of good.

I feel like I’ve covered TV pretty thoroughly in my summer and fall posts.

Books

As I said before, I’m not going to waste your time with books I think are fine. Here are my recommendations from what I read in 2015, I hope you find something you like, too. I’ve covered some of these already. (They are listed in the order of my reading.)

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

The Martian – Andy Weir

The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

The Light of the World – Elizabeth Alexander – A poet’s beautifully written memoir of joy and loss.

Attachments – Rainbow Rowell

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – People seem to love or hate this book. I expected to dislike it because I often find I don’t like “the” book everyone is talking about it. I thought it was great in that creepy way. I’m very excited that Emily Blunt is starring in the movie.

City of Thieves – David Benioff – Yes, the guy behind “The Game of Thrones.” No, it’s nothing like that. Fun fact, he’s married to Amanda Peet. It is actually a sweet, gory, gripping WWII novel.

 

Songs

Nothing better than driving along when a song I love is playing on the radio. I crank up the volume and sing my heart out. (Yes, sometimes my kids are in the car.)

Here are my favorites of last year, in no particular order:

Hozier – “Take Me to Church”

Adele – “Hello”

The Weeknd – “I Can’t Feel My Face”

Alessia Cara – “Here”

Robert DeLong – “Long Way Down”

Alt-J – “Every Other Freckle”

Beck – “Dreams”

Cold War Kids – “First”

 

Movies

I loved these movies. If I was giving out awards, these are the movies I would give them to.

The Martian – Everything I could’ve hoped for. Matt Damon is the bomb! It did the book proud.

Room – The acting by both leads is spectacular. These may not be the easiest 2 hours you’ll spend, but they will be worth it. I understand people’s reticence in seeing this; I would not read the book. It really is so good though; you will keep thinking about it long after you leave the theater.

Spotlight – Such a well-told story. You more understand how the entire situation got swept under the rug for as long as it did.

Star Wars: Episode VII – After re-watching the original Star Wars (episode IV), I’ve come to realize that this new one is pretty much a copy of the old one but…whatever.   It’s SO much better than the most recent three and my kids loved it too.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – see my summer blog

The Big Short – Like an entertaining tutorial on explaining how the housing market fiasco occurred.

Spy – see my summer blog

 

Song of the blog:

In honor of the many talented people who have recently passed, here’s one of my all-time favorite covers:  Nirvana singing David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World.”

 

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My summer 2015 hits…

While my kids were at camp, I had a little more free time (and no one blocking the TV), so here’s what I’ve loved the past few months…

TV

  • “Odd Mom Out” (Bravo) – This is certainly not the New York I knew.  I laugh at least three times per 30-minute episode and giggle much more. Episode 5 in Brooklyn was terrific (I, too, have a thing about spelling) but episode 6 brought the tears, I was laughing so hard. She says the funniest things and I love her best friend relationship.
  • “Mr. Robot” (USA) – Best pilot I’ve seen in a very long time. The pilot is also the best episode of all that I’ve seen, but the rest are still very good. Basically, it’s the little guy trying to beat the big bad corporation while dealing with his Asperger-y/ asocial/ computer genius self. Plus the lead actor looks uncannily like an ex of mine (hi Matt). It’s very smart and intense.
  • “UnREAL” (Lifetime) – This “behind-the scenes” satire is what I kind of think “The Bachelor” must really be like. I started watching for Shiri Appleby (I loved “Roswell” on the WB/UPN with her and Jason Behr). I stayed because the drama was twisty and compelling, unlike the show it satirizes. It just got renewed for season 2 so catch it from the beginning.
  • “Catastrophe” (Amazon Prime) – A guy from Boston has a 1-week stand with a woman in London and she gets pregnant. The leads are also the writers; their chemistry is terrific and their banter is fantastic. I want to talk like they do; I’m going to work on that. It’s only 6 30-minute episodes, people, you can do this.

Movies

  • Trainwreck – My dear friend, Stefanie (see more below), brought me to the screening of this a couple weeks before it opened. Even if the movie was not good, it would hold a special place in my heart as it was the last time we were together. Fortunately, it’s a very good movie. It’s gotten a lot of hype so I won’t write too much. I’ll just say that Tilda Swinton is unrecognizably terrific and Bill Hader stole the movie for me.
  • Spy – I know it’s out of the theatres but this movie was fun! I have loved Melissa McCarthy since “Gilmore Girls.” I can only imagine the ad-libbing that went on here.
  • Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – I am a big James Bond (Connery/Moore days), Jason Bourne and M:I fan. Clearly, why I liked Spy so much. I love the gadgets, the confidence, the trickery, the crazy/convoluted plots, etc. This movie could’ve cut out three chase scenes and still would be hold your breath, action-packed nirvana. I loved it. I’m not going to go in to Tom Cruise and his personal life because it doesn’t really matter to me. As an actor, I find him unbelievable. He totally commits and I totally buy it. Big props for letting Rebecca Ferguson and, especially, Simon Pegg shine in this, too.
  • I also watched Edge of Tomorrow because it was on TV, the only bad thing about it is its title. That movie is awesome! Cruise is fantastic and so is Emily Blunt.

Books

Caveat – I have only loved one book I’ve read this summer so, instead, I’m going to list the books I’ve loved so far this year.

  • Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret both by Liane Moriarty       What Alice Forgot is my favorite by her, then Big Little Lies then The Husband’s Secret. She is a very entertaining author. I enjoy her writing and I like that I can’t always guess where she’s going with her story.         http://www.indiebound.org/search/book?searchfor=liane+moriarty&x=0&y=0
  • The Martian by Andy Weir       This book is sooooooo smart. Everyone in it is a genius, literally. Once you get over the fact that there is no way you can understand anything these characters say or do and you just go with it, it is incredibly gripping. I couldn’t put it down near the end; I finished it at 2 am.   I just saw the movie preview for it with Matt Damon starring. I’m so in.          http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780553418026

Song of the Blog…

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Stefanie Whitaker Ballard (click to read her story) was a fellow entertainment junkie who loved my kids almost as much as I do. She was also a very, very good friend. That she is gone makes no sense to me.  Stefanie was a gift and I feel so so lucky to have had her in my life for as long as I did.

Stef, this one’s for you…