Romance: Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #1), by Julia Quinn

So sweet! And so refreshing to read a regency (or thereabouts) romance where the two intendeds do not meet via a) rape, b) intended rape or c) almost rape. NO RAPE AT ALL. Nice.

(Unlike, say, the Jo Beverly books which I read a ton of all in a row last Christmas. When you read too many of those “rape or almost rape brought these two together” books too close together, you just start to feel icky.)

Fiction: Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon

The reviews of this book on goodreads are widely divisive, moreso than most books from what I’ve seen anyway.

I didn’t fall head over heels but I didn’t (ever, really) feel the need to put it down, or move on, and that’s a pretty good sign that it’s at minimum well written and able to engage me as a reader.

Racing may be glamorous and sexy and the provence of the rich and the nouveau riche (heh) but it’s also a place that washed up, unhappy people (and horses) wind up spending years just stuck in. My best friend in high school’s dad once came in 3rd in the Kentucky Derby (as a jockey). He also spent years and years racing at tiny tracks, drinking away his sorrows, fighting with anyone who would fight him, and bemoaning his lack of ever getting up there again. So many horses, jockeys, owners, and trainers have just one bright shining moment. The ones that stay in the sun for years–THOSE are the real outliers in racing.

Some of this was icky and confrontational. (The sex bits were pretty uncomfortable.) Some of it was intriguing. Some of it was lyrical.

She’s an author that’s not going to do what you expect. Every time a new character entered the room, the story became about something else entirely.

OnDemand: White House Down.

Channing Tatum = like. Jamie Foxx = like. Gutsy young girls = like. Jason Clarke = like to dislike. Maggie Gyllenhall = like. James Woods = like to dislike.

Fun, entertaining. Predictable? Sure. Unlikely? OK. Whatever!

Might put you in the mood for some other political thrillers like In the Line of Fire (I rewatch this one so much, my first DVD of it wore out!), or Shooter, or A Few Good Men (another movie I have seen approximately 94 zillion times).

Big screen: Magic Mike XXL

From the super high to the lowly low. Hey, that’s life, isn’t it.

This was a LOT of fun and about 9,685,432 times funnier and sexier and more enjoyable than the first one. BY FAR.

SO much more dancing, better dancing, more enjoyable little conversations between the dancing.

Some of the end of movie dances were more silly than sexy (which is fine). My overall favorite was the dance Channing did by himself at Rome’s house. V. sexy.

Big screen: Testament of Youth

This is just a truly lovely movie, from top to bottom and beginning to end. The story is lovely, and heart wrenching, and brutal–the sleeve of my hoodie was soaking wet by the end of the film from wiping my eyes. The sets, and costumes, and backdrops, were SO well done, so of their time and place. The acting was fabulous. I want to go see that lead actress in everything she ever does, including maybe Ex Machina which I really didn’t want to see.

I had been dithering about, sulking over there not being any movies to see, and Dad said “Oh, Testament of Youth! GO TO THAT! That’s based on Vera Brittain’s book, she’s fantastic.” And I’m so glad I did.

I’m obsessed with learning more about her, I’m obsessed with the clothing from this movie. I’m certainly going to see it again if it stays around long enough.

I can’t stop listening to Taylor Swift “1989″.

I (finally) got this album in November…and loved it on the first listen…but then I just barely had any time to listen to music during the school year and sort of forgot about what I had bought earlier and even had some months where I didn’t even buy anything (what? that’s unheard of!). Well I’ve remedied that in the past 10 days and I cannot turn this album off. True sign of a great album: even the last three tracks are fabulous.

Her public persona is a BIT much (along the lines of Tom Cruise is a BIT enthusiastic), and I have never listened to any of her prior stuff, and sure some of the lyrics are a little silly, and sure when you hear what the songs are reportedly about sometimes you have to scoff…but I can’t stop humming them and singing them and dancing to them. Just can’t stop.

Middle-Grade Fantasy: The Dragonet Prophecy, by Tui Sutherland

A super sweet story about five little dragonets, stolen away before their eggs hatched, to play their part in a prophecy. It’s really a story about friends, family, belonging, finding your identity, and figuring out what’s important to you. And it was SO very sweet. I can think of a LOT of fifth graders who would really love this book (and presumably the rest of the story as well).