Monday, January 9, 2017

Icy Roads, Books, and Movies

We still haven’t gotten above freezing, and our neighborhood hasn’t been scraped yet, so I’m home again today.  It’s supposed to warm up to the 40s tomorrow, so hopefully everything will be back to normal by then.

Between the cold, snow/ice, and being sick between Christmas and New Year, I’ve watched a lot of movies and TV and done a lot of reading lately.  So I thought I might share some reviews, and ask for recommendations.


The Secret Life of Pets - This one was hugely disappointing.  We wanted to see it in the theater, but things kept coming up, so we didn’t get to.  I’m honestly glad we didn’t waste the money to see it in the theater.

From the previews we first saw it looked like it was going to be largely about all of the things the pets do when the people are away.  It looked like it was going to be funny, and really resonate with pet parents.

It turned out to be more of an “epic adventure” that didn’t really make any sense.  I realize cartoons aren’t based in reality (that’s what makes them fun), but it was just too over the top, and really not what the previews we saw lead us to expect.

Zootopia - This one was a wonderful surprise.  I’d seen a preview or two, and thought it looked like it might be good, but I wasn’t super excited about it.  It turned out to be great.  It was hilarious, and the music was excellent.

I think it’s the best cartoon I’ve seen since Inside Out.  I highly recommend both of them if you haven’t already seen them.

Pollyanna - This is one of my absolute most favorite movies.  Ever. My obsession with Pollyanna has been going strong for 30 years, and isn’t going away.  It’s a happy, feel-good movie about looking for the good things in life and the power of friendship.

I watched it as 2017 rang in because I wanted something positive and happy to start the new year off with, and Pollyanna absolutely fit the bill.

TV (Technically Netflix, but TV shows, so I’m counting it as TV):

Criminal Minds - I realize this one has been around for a long time, but I didn’t watch it when it first aired.  I started watching it on Netflix a couple of years ago, and finally finished all of the seasons that are on Netflix.

I like the characters, and I enjoy crime/mystery shows, so I really like this one.  Honestly, I’ve scared the daylights out of myself with it a few times when I’ve binge watched while Nick has been working nights.  It seems like that’s always when the episodes feature women home alone getting murdered.

Even though it creeps me out sometimes I still enjoy it, and am looking forward to whenever the next season is available on Netflix.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries - This series is excellent.  It features Phryne Fisher, a lady detective in 1920's Australia.  The mysteries are intriguing, the characters are great, the dresses she wears are gorgeous, and don’t even get me started on the shoes.  It also has some really great music.

There’s an ongoing mystery through most of the first season, as well as the smaller mysteries that are typically resolved within an episode.  There’s also a little romance.  There are enough storylines to keep it interesting, but not so many that it just feels like they couldn’t decide what kind of series they wanted to make.  I highly recommend this one!


Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley - This is the eighth book in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.  Flavia is a young amateur sleuth with a passion for chemistry in a small village in post World War II England.  She comes from a once wealthy family and lives on a declining estate with her two older sisters, father who’s dealing with PTSD from the war, and a couple of household servants.  She spends her days conducting chemical experiments and solving crimes.

I love this series!  Quite honestly, I had no interest in reading it when I first heard about it.  I thought it wasn’t something I’d enjoy.  I’m not a kid person (Flavia is 11 years old in the first book), and I have zero interest in chemistry.  It didn’t seem like my kind of book.

One of my co-workers basically forced me to borrow the first book, The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie, and I had every intention of giving it back without reading it.  She kept bugging me about it, though, so I started reading it on a Sunday night. I had the plan of forcing myself though the first two or three chapters and then returning it on Monday morning, telling her I’d tried, but just couldn’t get into it.  I ended up staying up until 2:00 in the morning reading half of the book.  I’ve been hooked ever since then.

I’ve given all of the books five stars, and the most recent one has lived up to the standard set in the rest of the series.  I do recommend reading them in order.  There are a lot of what would be spoilers in Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d if you haven’t read the rest of the series.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard - I first discovered Nancy Pickard in a bargain bin at a used bookstore when I stumbled across The Whole Truth.  It was excellent, and I’m currently reading the third book in that series, The Truth Hurts.

She has also written a few stand alone books, which is what The Scent of Rain and Lightning is.  It’s a mystery that takes place partly in modern day and partly in the 80s.  

It is extremely well written, there are some great plot twists, and she does a great job jumping between times.  It’s smooth, but doesn’t leave you going back a few pages to figure out which time frame you’re currently in.

I highly recommend this one, and I’m planning to read all of her books now.  I’ve loved all three of the ones I’ve read, and am really enjoying the one I’m currently reading.

So what about you?  Have you read or watched anything good lately?  Anything you’d recommend as a must?  Or anything you’d recommend not wasting time on?


  1. Well, its not any fun being sick but it looks like you made the most of your time! I think Zootopia won the Golden Globe last night. I love anything Brit and am hoping to watch the Miss Fisher series. I loved all the books. And the books you shared sound very good.

    I'm reading a Stephen Sondheim bio right now, then onto Susan Branch's journey through England before I go back to my favorites -- mysteries!

  2. Sorry you were sick and now the cold temperatures! Glad though you had things to occupy you during the time. I want to see Zootopia some time, it does sound cute. I finished about a week ago a book called the Last Telegram by Liz Trenow. It was very good!

    Stay warm!


  3. I had recorded No Tomorrow on my DVR and got caught up on that over the break. Cute show.

  4. I appreciate your insight on TV and movies. I ususually read authors from overseas. Reading one book now about a bookstore.

  5. I'm now worried about The Secret Life Of Pets. It's one of the DVDs sat on my "to-watch" pile. I guess I'll find out what I think of it when I get around to watching it.

    My chinchillas enjoy Criminal Minds. Well, their favourite show is NCIS, but Criminal Minds is one of their favourites. I'm actually quite concerned about it, to be honest. On the one hand, I agree it's a great show, so them liking it is a good thing. On the other hand, I'm not sure how to feel about the fact my chinchillas throw a tantrum if you switch the TV off, or change the channel, when they're watching those kinds of shows. Not all crime shows, just NCIS, Criminal Minds, and CSI.

    I've read and watched several things lately. Some good, some not so good. My book reviews post went up at the start of the month (as I think you saw when you were catching up on my blog posts) and my movie reviews post will go up at the end of the month.

  6. Oh how disappointing on the Secret Life of Pets. Your way sounds way more fun.

  7. I'm late getting here, and we sure hope you're feeling better, Danielle. Glad it all afforded you some time to read some books and watch some shows and movies. Criminal Minds freaks us out sometimes, too. ;)


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