A FILM : Avenue Montaigne (2006)

This evening I watched my first film in a foreign language to me: Avenue Montaigne (2006).

It’s a French film with English subtitles centering around a younger woman named Jessica. She is wide-eyed dreamer– the kind of girl that is interested in everything and everyone and when she answers the phone she says “Hey!” instead of, “Who the hell is calling me?” She has broken up with her boyfriend and finds herself in Paris, working at a cafe that serves the rich and poor alike. She ends up inserting herself into the lives of some high profile artists– a high concert pianist, who no longer wants to perform for high society, a beloved soap opera star who has her eyes set on a specific movie role, and an art collector– finally auctioning off the collection he has been building all his life.

Jackie was an endearing and lovable lead– my only complaint was she was almost too perfect– always happy and always able to manage to worm herself into the lives of these high profile actresses. But I’m not sure if Jackie’s role was meant to be anything more than a vehicle to tell these other stories. Those other stories were what I found the most enthralling. It was interesting to me to see all the stories contrasted and see how they intertwined or didn’t intertwine.

This was light, breezy, funny, and thoughtful. It’s about four very different people trying to break out of the roles they have been placed into by themselves and by society. It dealt a lot with art and luxury in a way that seemed to anchor the movie and give it a really strong foundation to stand on.

Overall? I think this was the perfect world language film to try out! This summer I am going to be doing some exploring, so you mighhhht end up seeing 1) more blog posts here in general and 2) more blog posts about things that aren’t books.

A BOOK: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

2195464What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
by Haruki Murakami
Published 2008

In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and even more importantly, on his writing.

Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and takes us to places ranging from Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a panorama of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back.

Photo and summary from Goodreads.com

2015 is the year of me possibly dipping into Haruki Murakami’s writing. Okay. That’s not true. It is the year of me dipping into Murakami’s writing, but I don’t know how much further I will go. This year I have listened to  The Strange Library and now I have listened to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. The first title is a more recent title and is only an hour long in the audio format. This title, as you can read from the cover, is a memoir. Because these works are not things Murakami are really known for, I feel like I am skirting around his edges.


What I really liked about this memoir was how much I ended up liking Murakami as a person. I think it’s because he is so built up in my head (you know, Murakami this, Murakami that, literature literature literature) but in this memoir he seemed so humble and just a simple man dedicated to his crafts. Of course this is a memoir, so he has control over the message, but whether or not that is an accurate picture of him it made my reading experience a lot more enjoyable.

While this is a very conversational story about Murakami’s relationship with running, he also delves into his relationship with writing. He talked a little bit about some of his philosophy, which was a surprise treat for me. He also touches on aging and the surprises of being on the other side of “old.”

I particularly enjoyed the format I read this. The audiobook is narrated by Ray Porter, and to me he ended up being a great fit for the story. His own voice is measured and calm, which really fit with the tone of the book. It also matched the style of the book- it really felt like Murakami just talking to you.

If you’re interested in…

…short snippets into a very private writer’s life
…a book discussing passion in running and writing
…a story that takes its time
…an audiobook where you feel like you’re sitting on the floor listening to someone reflect on life

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running might be for you!

Add it to your to be read shelf on Goodreads!

A BOOK : The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

22557272The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.

Image and summary from Goodreads

I am not going to lie, I didn’t mean to actually read this. I visited my parents house, saw it on my dad’s bedstand, and then spent the rest of the day reading his book. Because here’s the thing. Everyone got really excited about Gone Girl and I really liked it, but I just didn’t like it as much as I wanted to, probably because of the hype conundrum. The Girl on the Train is being heralded as the next Gone Girl and while I figured I would pick it up at some point just to see the comparisons, I thought it would be later rather than sooner. Well surprise! It turned out to be a lot sooner than I thought.

Because really. Paula Hawkins just nailed it with characters and atmosphere. She drew me in immediately from the first chapter and I was a goner.

This is deliciously told from three different perspectives, but for most of the book we end up spending our time with Rachel. Rachel is unstable. Rachel continuously made me cringe and get an uncomfortable knot in my stomach. But Rachel is so interesting and she might have done something bad, but she doesn’t know and we don’t know and everything is this glorious mess.

The book is sweaty and sticky and makes you feel sort of nauseous at times and as I am typing this up, I am realizing this does NOT sound appealing at all. Hahaha. What I mean is, Hawkins has fully committed to the story she is telling, and as a result the reader (or at least this reader) gets enveloped into this unbalanced world. And throughout the great character sketches and thorough setting descriptions and snappy dialogue… you just want to know WHAT HAPPENED?!?! WHAT WILL HAPPEN?!

So yea. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it! And if you have read The Girl on the Train, let me know what you thought!

Add it to your shelf on Goodreads!

A BOOK : One More Thing by B.J. Novak

18007533One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories
by B.J. Novak

B.J. Novak’s One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut collection that signals the arrival of a welcome new voice in American fiction.

Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, Novak’s assured prose and expansive imagination introduce readers to people, places, and premises that are hilarious, insightful, provocative, and moving-often at the same time.

Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, from the deeply familiar to the intoxicatingly imaginative,One More Thing finds its heart in the most human of phenomena: love, fear, family, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element that might make a person complete. The stories in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.

Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com

I am going to start this off by saying if you decide to read this book, please, please, please, please go for the audio. It’s probably not that big of a deal if you don’t, but I am just completely smitten by this audio book. It’s read largely by B.J. Novak with a few extra guests (there’s a long list,  but the ones that have remained on the tip of my brain include Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Emma Thompson, and Katy Perry(?!)). While the guests are fun, it’s truly B.J. Novak’s voice that won me over. His delivery is fan.tas.tic.

While not actually that long, there are a whole bunch of very different stories of different lengths, depth, and style jam-packed into this little beauty. Because of that there is time for everything– for super short poignant micro-stories that hit you over the head, to long drawn out stories where you’re not exactly sure where everything is going but you might be enjoying the ride.

Novak also has a really good understanding of the literary canon and literature as a whole, and I don’t know exactly why, but that just struck such a positive chord in my book. I think it’s partly because to me it shows that he isn’t writing a book just to write a book. My projection onto him is that he has grounding in literature, and wants to join the conversation, rather than just make an easy buck or write a book just because he can. This is just me playing pretend though, who knows how accurate that statement is :).

 Some particular favorites (these aren’t the actual titles):

“Dark Matter”
The one about Frosted Flakes
The date with the warlord
The first robot to have feelings
The John Grisham one

I think one of the reasons why I am so moony over this collection, is because of how Novak uses the element surprise and he make you think (Would you sleep with a warlord? Why or why not?). There were times when I was expecting a big revelation, but then the story just dropped. There were times when I was thinking the story was supposed to be more surface level funny, but then suddenly Novak makes some surprisingly astute observation, or at least leads you to make one of your own.

Basically, Novak really knows how to tell a story.

If words/phrases like: “smarmy bastard,” “a glint in his eye,” and, “mischievous” strike your fancy, definitely pick up One More Thing. Just a warning- if you’re going to listen to the audio there is a pretty good amount of swearing.

Check it out!


Remember that one time…

…when I said I was going to blog every day in December?


Well the good news is I blogged a ton more than I did in December than I have any other month.

Am I going to  be blogging regularly again? I have no clue. BUT I feel like I owe some sort of explanation.

I moved!

Which was exciting and thrilling and a ton of work. And then I lived off the internet and cable grid for a while


I now have internet. And cable. And am completely moved in. And am feeling settled enough to actually start doing things in my free time other than clean, watch Friends, write lists (lots and lots of lists), and use a heck of a lot of phone data up on Pinterest.

So hurray!

What is happening in my content consumption life?

The best thing that cable has brought me is The Great British Bake Off. A while ago I stumbled on this show called The Great American Bake Off and it was the best thing ever. I just loved every bit of it for some reason. This weekend I was at my parents and guess what I stumbled on?! The Great British Bake Off!!! And guess who gets that channel?!?! ME. I am a happy happy soul.

Musically I have just started listening to the new Punch Brothers CD released today, Phosphorescent Blues. I have not gotten far, but so far so good!

I just started reading this book called Red Rising by Pierce Brown today and I am very much a fan so far. It’s been getting a lot of attention in various things I peek at, and I am enjoying the world building going on. I also tentatively really like the main character Darrow. It’s definitely exactly what I have been wanting!

I am listening to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. This is technically my second book by him, by first one being the uber short The Strange Library. What I can tell you right now is I just really really like his personality. I am unintentionally falling down a Murakami hole.

Online video wise, I have started to watch a lot of Kate’s videos from The Small Things Blog. I like her candidness with her reaction toward certain products, her hair tutorials, and how she tends to make a lot of videos for everyday makeup/hair.

I think that’s a pretty good sum of what is happening in life. I hope you all are enjoying things!

SOME MUSIC : Talking is Hard by Walk the Moon

B L O G M A S   D A Y   11

Talking is Hard is Walk the Moon’s second full album after their self-titled release in 2012. Throwing together 80’s pop with today’s indie rock, the band (formed in Ohio- Midwest for the win!) has created this album of just pure awesomeness. As a big fan of their first album, I had high hopes and man. Those high hopes were met for me!

I am just going to go track by track.

1. Different Colors– this opening song pretty much exemplifies what the entire album will be. It has that expansive opening song feel, the beat is upbeat, calm, but sure. They pretty much tell their mission for the rest of the album.

“We keep cranking the music up
Driving through our towns
But they don’t want to hear
They want us to turn it down
So come on lovers, come on haters
Tonight we raise the fire
Cause when the people get to dancing
They forget about taking sides”

2. Sidekick– THIS IS MY FAVORITE. It has a lot of words thrown into the song and has a fun play on the word “do” (d-d-d-d-d-d-d-do you wanna be my sidekick?). Plus, I find oversimplificatication of really big things pretty much the best thing ever. Not do you want to be my girlfriend or possibly fall in love with me, but do you want to be my sidekick?

3. Shut Up and Dance– Two words sums this song up: Discotheque Juliet!

4. Up 2 U– Starts off pretty smooth and nice sounding, but this turns out to have more rockish elements rather than straight pop.

5. Avalanche– This has one of my favorite follow through with a song lyric. It’s just fun to sing. “One glance and the avalanche (pause- low voice) drops. One look and my heart beat (pause) stops.”

6. Portugal– This song is a little more synthesizer-y and it has more of a summer feel.

7. Down in the Dumps– Definitely more of an 80’s song, and has a really cool background sound that starts like about 30 seconds in. It has another lyric I really love: “Scared of heights like I’m scared of falling in love.”

8. Work This Body– Another song with a whole bunch of lyrics smooshed in=I AM HAPPY. This has a very fun melody to it and is very inspiring! Definitely a good one to sing to in the car.

9. Spend Your $$$– This has more of an industrial sound to it and because of that it feels a little separate than the other songs. It has a lot of the same characteristics- upbeat sound, catchy chorus, and vocals going up and down. This is also one of the songs that doesn’t really reference relationship/friendships.

10. We Are the Kids– This track sounds more like an anthem of a generation. “We take that old school fashion, shape it into something new.”

11. Come Under the Covers– A song for the end of the summer, this is more of a luurrrrrvvvveeeee  song if you can’t tell by the title ;)

12. Aquaman– is pretty much pure 80’s. When I am driving and listening to it I have to work hard to keep my hands on the wheel and not start swaying back and forth and snapping my fingers. It is a smooooooth song. Pretty much the calmest on the album.

Last minute album thoughts:

Talking is Hard is similar, yet soooo different from their first album. I love that they are exploring and growing musically to different things, yet it appears to be very organic.

-The songs themselves are pretty different from each other, yet again they have a cohesive sound to them.

-All of the songs totally promote some sort of dancing around.

-There are threads of positivity sewn into pretty much every. song.

-If you ever have the opportunity to see them, DO IT. You will be in for a fun positive show.

-The lyric booklet features handwritten song lyrics and a ton of fun doodles.

If you decide to listen to them (or already do), let me know! I would love to know what you think!

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

B L O G M A S  D A Y   10

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand


There’s death all around us.

We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

I usually am very particular about angels and paranormal romance in my reading, but Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series completely won me over. Her ability to tell a story that I am really picky about and win me over so quickly has put her newest book The Last Time We Say Goodbye immediately on my to-read list. This soon to be released novel has nothing to do with her previous series and looks to be more contemporary rather than paranormal.

This sounds terribly depressing, and based on a few of the reviews people have already written it sounds like Hand delivers that grief. Plus, what the heck is that text message referenced in the summary? Basically? I can’t wait!

The Last Time We Say Goodbye comes out February 10, 2015. Add it to your tbr shelf on Goodreads!