For What It's Worth

Monday, September 25, 2023

Update: Life, reading, watching...

To the surprise of no one, my recent burst of blogging productivity tapered off lol But I'm happy that I'm reading again and got a in a few full length reviews!

I'm falling way behind again though, so I thought I would do a quick update of all the things!


If you remember my health care app saga (I had no access to my Dr, RX's, appointments on my app for over a year. I called. And called. And called. Just to keep getting IT case #'s and no response. Kevin had talked to a Kaiser rep about an unrelated matter and the guy told him that it was an app issue. They were trying to enhance the app but broke the whole thing instead but won't tell anyone. So, I gave up and guess what??? 2 months later they fixed it! I have full access now and even ordered my refill through the app. The only thing I can't access, oddly enough, is billing and I don't care about that  lol.

The next thing, if you recall, is my dissolving ECCO shoes. Kevin filled out all the paperwork and sent them back & they gave me a $100 credit. Not bad for older shoes with no receipt. All their shoes are fairly expensive though ($200+) and honestly, I just don't trust them anymore. You can only use the credit on more shoes, so I'm keeping my eyes on the sale page and will hopefully find something that doesn't cost me any additional money.

Fall has arrived right on cue - like a switch being flipped. The rain, wind and cold are here and I am instantly drained of joy and energy lol I enjoy fall things but cold, rainy weather depletes me.



Stars in Your Eyes by Kacen Callender (audio - ALC copy provided in exchange for an honest review)- 2 lead actors are forced into a fake relationship to help save the indie film project they are working on, thanks to Logan's bad boy persona. But Matty inlocks another side to Logan and things become too real. CW for this one - child abuse, rape, drug use, suicidal ideation, homophobia, PTSD < I really liked this one. It really handled trauma, healing and finding your own path sensitively. It was not your typical cliche bad boy, all sex M/M romance. 

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen - I've been struggling with romances lately but this one really hit the spot! I loved their chemistry - a enemies to lovers vibe but both are mature about it. The magical world, the family of undertakers, and supporting cast were all great. Hart is the most cinnamon roll of a grumpy hero & Mercy was a confident, snarky ray of sunshine. 


New Adult by Timothy Janovsky (audio - ALC copy provided in exchange for an honest review) - 13 Going on 30 vibe - upstart comedian, Nolan Baker is frustrated by his lack of success, lack of support for his career from family, and by his unrequited crush on best friend Drew. Enter a few magical crystals at his sisters cult like company (a running gag aimed at Gweneth Paltrow's GOOP - I think it was named Dupe?? I can' remember but it rhymed with GOOP) and Nolan gets exactly what he wished for - he's 30 years old and a successful comedian, with all the fame and money he could ask for. But at what cost?  This was a lot of fun - light, good message, a touch of magic. 

The Honeymoon Crashers by Christina Lauren (audible exclusive) - a cute short story for after The Unhoneymooners. Ami is determined to plan the ultimate, inexpensive, curse free wedding in Maui, for her sister Olive and finance Ethan (from the Unhoneymooners.  She's forced to work with surfer dude vibes, best man, Brod,y and all her well laid plans go off the rails as she learns to relax and fall in love. 


Funny Guy by Emma Barry - I struggled right from the start with this one. Sam is a comedian on a hit sketch show (think SNL) and self destructs on a regular basis, always going to his safe harbor and best friend Bree. During his latest antics, Bree is given a job opportunity that will take her away from NYC and Sam. Fearing his abandonments issues, she's reluctant to tell him and its' excruciating to finally let go of her love for him since it isn't returned in that way. might be? I love Barry's writing and I felt, for sure, she could guide me past some of Sam's selfish, bad boy stuff and root for a getting stronger Bree. However, they have such an unhealthy dynamic that I didn't think was ever truly addressed other than - they fell in love so it was no longer an issue. 


Divinity 36 by Gail Carriger - Carriger's books are always a little offbeat and I usually enjoy them even if I don't 100% get them but I am completely lost with this one. There are so many new terms and concepts always being thrown and me and I...just don't get it. There's a barista - Phex -who lives on one of the moons and alien hears him sing and wants to make him a God. And I think there's some sort of reality show competition for it? I don't know - I don't get it lol 

What she does do really well, is write these sweet, found family, quirky, gender fluid type stories and if that's your jam then I say give it a go! I might pick it back up at a later date and see if I connect to it better. 


Afterparty S2 on Apple+ - dragged a bit but I like how it ended

What We Do in the Shadows on FX - loved this season!

Ahsoka on Disney+ - not bad.

No One Will Save You on Hulu - Kevin and I liked this one! It's about an alien invasion from the point of one girl living alone, in the woods. The movie is almost completely dialogue free. Not everything is 100% explained but I really loved how it ended. 

Netflix - Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story - sad but interesting, Dolly Parton: Here I Am doc - I feel like they left a ton of personal stuff out (her philanthropy, theme parks - probably by her choice) but good.

Speaking of - I LOVE this cover of What's Up by 4 Non Blondes (ft. Linda Perry) for Dolly's upcoming rock album.

Welp, that seems like more than enough for one post! What have you been up to?

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Things I'm enjoying! One Piece, Wiser Than Me

Hello everyone! Just popping in to share a couple of things that I've loved this past week.

First up is the live action adaptation of the Japanese manga - One Piece on Netflix

Kevin and I binged watched this one in just two days and LOVED it! We've never read or watched the anime version but had no problem falling right into the show. It's SO MUCH FUN!

Pirates! Adventure on the high seas! Treasure! Danger! Betrayal! Found family! 

The fighting could be a little graphic - sword fighting, lots of blood - but this is mostly a mad cap, exaggerated, funny kind of show with the biggest heart at it's core. Every time a new member is added tot he cast, I fall in love. The storytelling is A+++ too. I cannot recommend this one enough.

Next is the Wiser Than Me podcast with Julia Louis-Dreyfus spotify trailer link

Julia talks to older women about getting older, what they've learned, asks what she should know about getting older and just generally fun discussions with women who are...wiser than me.

A few episodes stood out to me. Darlene Love just radiates positive energy and not dwelling on the past but still standing up for herself. Jane Fonda was the most reflective of mistakes from her past and things she would do differently. Carol Burnett - total legend with fantastic stories and OMG - sharp as a tack at 90. Rhea Perlman felt the most real. And Fran Lebowitz is just the funniest person to listen to. 

One downside is that most of these women are privileged and have money to grow older in comfort. Like Amy Tan has completely retrofitted her 2 story home to ADA accessible so she can stay there until she dies. That's wonderful! But not something we can all do. Same with private trainers and pools for exercise. But all in all - a lot of the advice is adaptable and still on point. And most of all - it's just a fun podcast, because we're all getting older!

And, just to end on a funny note - I posted this on IG a few weeks ago - but if you haven't seen it....

I had to go for my mammogram and they updated the facilities (it was outside in a trailer before - like...why????) but anyway, tech was super excited and had treats for post mammogram. The Hershey kisses are supposed to be boobs and the mints a smile for a job well done lol

I thought it was really sweet and a nice touch after the whole smashing thing lol

Let me know how your week is going!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Review: The Lonely Hearts book Club by Lucy Gilmore

Sloane Parker lives a small, contained life as a librarian in her small, contained town. She never thinks of herself as lonely...but still she looks forward to that time every day when old curmudgeon Arthur McLachlan comes to browse the shelves and cheerfully insult her. Their sparring is such a highlight of Sloane's day that when Arthur doesn't show up one morning, she's instantly concerned. And then another day passes, and another.

Anxious, Sloane tracks the old man down only to discover him all but bedridden...and desperately struggling to hide how happy he is to see her. Wanting to bring more cheer into Arthur's gloomy life, Sloane creates an impromptu book club. Slowly, the lonely misfits of their sleepy town begin to find each other, and in their book club, find the joy of unlikely friendship. Because as it turns out, everyone has a special book in their heart—and a reason to get lost (and eventually found) within the pages. ~ Goodreads

Source: Audiobook via the library/Hoopla

Review: Although I read this one in summer, this is the perfect - curl up in front of the fireplace, rainy day, fall-ish - read.

Told through multiple pov's, The Lonely Hearts Book Club tells the story of a group of lonely people, at different stages of life & difficulties, coming together to hobble together a new, found family of sorts. And of course a book club!

Sloane Parker leads a nice, comfortable life as a librarian in her small town. After a childhood growing up with loud and volatile parents, she's engaged to a calm, respected chiropractor and enveloped into his large family, where they make the decisions for her. It's all very predictable and safe. The way Sloan likes it. 

That all changes when cranky senior, Arthur McLachlan - who makes all the staff hide or cry - with his epic rants and insults, decides to pick a fight with Sloane. For some reason, Arthur's takedowns and literary challenges don't pierce her, instead, it awakens something else. The feisty side of her. She banters right back with Arthur and it becomes a daily habit. Then one week, Arthur stops showing up to the library and Sloane takes it upon herself to check up on him. She's suspended from work for interfering with a patrons personal information and life and given an order - no more Arthur. But after being passed over for yet another promotion, she choses Arthur and leaves her job. 

Finding Arthur at home, basically alone, after chasing away all his nurses with his "charming" personality, Sloane is determined to bring some light into Arthur's days by taking care of him and organizing his substantial home library. Arthur is loath to say it out loud, but he loves sparring with Sloane just as much and she helps crack open his closed heart by inviting a little band of misfits, one by one, to start a book club. 

There's Masie - the quirky single mom next door who is struggling with a surly teen and empty nest syndrome, Mateo - Sloane's former co-worker, who struggles to let himself love and be loved, Greg - Arthur's grandson who wants to reconnect with his last family member before it's too late and Nigel - a frenemy from Arthur's past, and, of course, Sloane & Arthur round out the group. No matter how different their lives are - the common thread is that they all crave love and connection- even while they sometimes push it away.

While I usually dislike so many pov's in one book, it really worked for me here. I initially felt jolted when the switch happened, but quickly fell into the new background story and fell in love with each of them. They way they all tie back to each other and come full circle warmed my heart. 

I loved how Gilmore discussed all types of books, from the classics to more modern, and popular literature. There was no reader shaming or elitism about how one reads or what our individual takes are from a story. It makes the story assessable to readers of all kinds. Even non-readers.

I also loved how the author showed various kinds of love - platonic, familial, found family. The romance is super light in this so, while it's there a (very) tiny bit, this is a great story for those who don't want romance. 

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Angie Kane who did an excellent job but I wish her Sloane and Masie were a bit more different. And my one peeve would be that story was in dire need of an epilogue. It ended on a perfect note but I would love to know just how far they've come, say a year later. 

The Lonely Hearts Book Club is a nod to all the people who are a little odd, lonely, regretful, introverted and never feel seen. If you're bookish then it's even more wonderful! Reading this book felt a little like therapy - cathartic, enlightening, hopeful and full of possiblity. I already used this quote on another book review (T.J. Klune's The House on the Cerulean Sea) but this was a warm hug of a book. I was so comforted by this world, I didn't want to leave.