A round-up of random things that please me

July is nearly over and I swear it just started a couple days ago. Anyway, I have been neglecting this here blog, so I figure I’ll just post a round-up of stuff I’ve recently enjoyed. Well, media, specifically, because it’s summer and if I opened this up to anything, you’d be reading a blog about tomatoes, peaches, and blueberries. Or clicking away from a blog about tomatoes, peaches, and blueberries… Anyway, an app, some Tweetings, books, TV, movie and music seems like a good random mix, so here:

App: Litsy, which is only available for iThings right now, but hopefully will be more available soon. It’s like Instagram and Twitter had a book nerd baby, without all the bullshit. You can post a photo, blurb about, or quote from a book. Each post must be linked with a book title, which helps keep things focused. It’s quite fun and even though I’m fairly new to it, I like it a lot. The only problem is the dangerous increase to the old “Wanna Read” list. Conveniently (?), you can keep a list within the app and add books to it with one lil tap of your finger. So many books!

Twitter accounts: There are a few actually, and they’re all sharks. Did you know sharks tweet? I did not, until this online class I’ve been taking about sharks. (It’s thoroughly fascinating. It’s the second class I’ve done through edX.org, which is really incredible. Check it out for all your learning needs and wants.) Mary Lee, Viper, Carolina, and Buddy the hammerhead are but a handful of the sharks swimming around and Tweeting. They tweet their locations, news, info about sharks and oceans, the occasional funny pic/meme, and banter among themselves. You could also just follow OCEARCH, which is the organization that tags and tracks sharks.

Books: Two I’ve read recently and really loved both have damaged, difficult, badass female protagonists who are so similar that they would either be best friends or mortal enemies, but either way, I want them to hang out. The first is The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, which also features a time-traveling serial killer. Honestly, if I need to say more than time-traveling serial killer to get you to read a book, I don’t know what we’re doing here. But, here you go: Depresion-era killer wanders through different time periods in Chicago, killing fierce women who would have done incredible things with their lives if he hadn’t sliced them up first. Beukes gives us beautiful and ultimately heartbreaking vignettes so that we get to know each woman and are right there with her when she meets her untimely death. We get the killer’s POV, too, but ultimately, it’s a book about the women. Our main character, Kirby, is the victim who got away and is determined not to let her would-be-murderer do the same.

The other is Mishell Baker’s Borderline, which I could not put down. We follow Millie, a former film student who has borderline personality disorder and two prosthetic legs as she’s recruited into a secret organization, the Arcadia Project. Turns out Arcadia is basically the world of the fae and the project’s job is to keep relations running smoothly between our world and theirs, including managing  the gates between and making sure fae don’t overstay their VISAs. The book is part detective, part great conspiracy, and many parts dealing with the extreme complications of being imperfect creatures. The world is so rich and layered and intriguing that I’m delighted the second book is in the works.

Also with a damaged leading lady, but in wholly different ways, is M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts, which is beautiful and heartbreaking and asks so many good questions about what it means to be human, ethics in science and military practices, and what it means to live versus simply surviving. We meet the brilliant 10 year old Melanie, who lives on a military base where she spends a lot of time alone in her cell. She’s strapped to a chair and wheeled into a classroom with other students every day, and she loves her teacher Miss Justineau. She’s never been outside. Soldiers and scientists are everywhere, and everything is locked down until the hungries overrun the place. Then the book is a journey toward survival, whatever that means, as Melanie, Miss Justineau, the lead doctor and two military men hit the road to try to find anyone who’s left. It’s hard to really outline without spoiling too much, but Melanie is special, and not just because she’s a genius. She keeps the group (mostly) alive and moving and remains remarkably hopeful even as she learns the truth about the devastated world outside, humanity and herself. You’ll catch plenty of the feelings, so be prepared and just read it, okay?

TV Show: You know I’m going to say Stranger Things, right? Stranger Things! It’s so good! All the child actors are stellar, but holy cow the little girl who plays Elle is phenomenal. It’s only 8 episodes on Netflix and I’m telling you now to do yourself a favor and just go ahead a block out about 8 hours to watch it all. We did not do this and were very distraught. We got halfway through Sunday by staying up past bedtime and finished Monday by ordering pizza instead of cooking supper and also staying up past bedtime. Totally worth it. It’s like all the great 80s creepy kid movies (E.T., Goonies, IT, Firestarter, etc.) rolled into each other and went to the future and wandered into the X-Files. It’s a compelling story with a good ol’ fashioned evil government lab conspiracy and a rad-looking monster. Also nerdy little kids playing D&D and saving the day while riding bikes, in true 80s style. It’ll give you the feelings, too.

Movie & music: This one’s a two-fer because this gem of a fictional movie is about a real-life folk duo called Future Folk. Their album is delightful and catchy and that shit will stick in your head for daaaays. It’s on Apple music, along with a live one, but you can also get it at their site. It will also do this if you only watch the film, History of Future Folk, which is on Netflix. Basically, Future Folk is General Trius and the Mighty Kevin, two super nice dudes from the planet Hondo. They miss it, but they dig earth and music, so they use their banjo & guitar & voices to tell stories about home. History of Future Folk tells the story of how the band came to be and that time they saved Earth and it is utterly charming. It’s got the funny, but you can feel your heart growing and warming, which are two things I’m not usually fond of, but dammit, it’s just so good and not sentimental or sappy or forced. It’s just great. Watch it. You’re welcome and I won’t apologize for you having a song about space worms stuck in your head.

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