This is a personal finance blog, right? But every so often, I get more on the personal side of things. Some of my favorite bloggers have been those that I get to know through their stories, experiences, and likes. I hope those that interact with me here at Money Beagle enjoy the personal experiences and such that I share.
With that, I would like to make note of some things that have been keeping me entertained as of late. I'll also give my two cents on whether they're good or not!
I love reading fiction. I always have at least a few books checked out from the library. Plus, I subscribe to their New Items RSS feed. So, any new book I think I might like, I add to my to-read list. Here are a few I have recently completed reading.
Remember Me Like This – Bret Johnston
This book had a really cool premise. A child disappeared and went missing. Rather than focus on the part where most books spend their time, looking for him, they actually start off with him being found, and pick up from there. The book goes through the family readjusting to him being back. It was a pretty cool premise, and I read it all the way to the end, but it didn't deliver as I'd hoped. Maybe there's a reason that books with this topic usually focus on the search, because that tends to be more engaging as a reader. My biggest complaint was that it seemed like very little was happening. I was surprised because many reviews on Amazon and Goodreads seemed made me really excited, and while it wasn't a bad book, it just never really got me hooked.
The Sweet Thereafter – Bret Johnston
I must have hit a subconcious theme here about picking out stories focusing on an aftermath, because this was another one! The focus of this book was about a school bus accident that claimed the lives of some schoolchildren, but focuses on the aftermath of those involved and those in the accident, those left behind, and those recovering. I found this much more interesting, because it seemed that there was a lot more depth in the characters and a lot more change in many of the relationships that they had with one another. This wasn't a great book, but it definitely kept me much more interested and wondering what was going to happen next.
The Killer Next Door- Alex Marwood
This is a book set in England, which focuses on a rooming house with six different individuals, all with something in their past. They're brought together in different ways, and, as the title suggests, there's a killer amongst them. There are some very gruesome parts to this book, but that aside, it was pretty interesting. I enjoyed this book, though my only complaint is that the last 30 pages or so seemed, well, completely unnecessary. Usually a book like this does spend some time wrapping things up and showing the characters next steps, but this was unnecessarily wordy. My only other suggestion would have been to maybe cut a character, but add a bit more backstory on the other characters. I would have liked to have seen a bit more backstory on some of the characters that I think would have expanded the world a bit more.
Here are few things I've watched lately that are worth mentioning:
Olive Kitteridge – HBO Miniseries
Last fall, HBO played a miniseries based on a favorite book of mine, Oliver Kitteridge. I read the book sometime last year, and it was great. I won't review it now, but I was very excited when I saw that they were making a series of this. Olive is a very abrasive woman with little patience and high expectations. Unfortunately, this makes her unliked by many, but the book and movie both do a wonderful job of exploring that, and showing how she really does care.
When you read a book, you often picture what the characters would look like, and I have to admit that Frances McDermott was not anything like I'd envisioned Olive as I read the book, but she did a wonderful job. She's a fine actress and did a great jobs with the material. I was looking forward to this the day that I first read about the mini-series coming, and I'd read great reviews when it actually aired. This was a great watch.
The Americans Season 3 – FX TV Show
Cable TV has brought some great television, especially over the last 15 years. Some of my favorites have been The Sopranos, The Shield, and Breaking Bad. Those are three of my favorites and The Americans is right up there with them. For those who might not be familiar with the premise, it's set in the 1980's, during the Cold War, and USSR agents are living here as Americans. The series is very well written, and focuses on elements from the espionage to relationships and the different tugs and pulls that this situation brings. As a viewer, you don't want to root for the enemy, but as a watcher of the show, seeing how they deal with situations, with each other, and with their family is great watching. The season just wrapped up and seems to be getting better as the series goes on.
Blues Brothers (1980 movie)
Netflix just added Blues Brothers into their on-demand queue, and I love it! I couldn't do a list of favorite quotes. Why? Because I love the entire film! Very rarely does a movie make me laugh from start to finish. It was one of the first movies with swearing that I was ever allowed to watch as a kid. Of course I'll remember that! While technology has made car crash scenes in movies go above and beyond, the crashes in this movie can never be beat!
I don't listen to many CDs all the way through anymore. Who does? But, I did get one from the library that I wanted to hear.
Kid Rock – First Kiss
Being from the Detroit area, I have to appreciate Kid Rock. He was born and raised here, and he embraces the area. I saw him a couple of years ago when he played for a few nights at $20, and it was a great show. He's doing it again this year, and we couldn't get tickets (they sold out), but I still wanted to give his new album a listen.
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. I popped it into my CD player in the car and gave it a listen. My first thought was that it pretty much sounded the same from front to back. There was nothing that stood out as a must listen song. The songs largely went from one to the next with the same vibe, instruments, beat, and laid-back theme. He definitely has a great time playing music. I appreciate his skill, but here's the bottom line. I think people will enjoy it, and then forget all about it.
Readers, what are some of the books, shows, movies, or music that have been keeping you entertained lately?