Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TV Tuesday: Alias Grace

My husband's been traveling a bit lately, so I've been on the lookout for some new shows I can watch on my own (he and I have a long list of shows that we watch together!). One that I am enjoying is Alias Grace, the Netflix mini-series based on the historical novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood (my review of the book is at the link). I enjoyed the intriguing and compelling novel, and so far, the TV series is just as good.

It is based on the true story of Grace Marks, a young woman in Ontario accused of murder in 1843 and sentenced to life in prison at the age of sixteen. As the show opens, we see Grace in prison twenty years later, going to the adjoining Governor's house each day as a servant and returning to the prison each night. Dr. Simon Jordan, an American doctor in the new field of psychiatry, has been brought in by a local group who want to free Grace to assess her mental condition and get behind her amnesia of the events on the day of the murders to find out what really happened. From then, much of the action takes place in flashbacks, as Grace describes for Dr. Jordan, in great detail, her early life, her family's emigration to Canada from Ireland, her first job as a house maid, and her later job at the home where the murders took place. The story emerges bit by bit, with glimpses of Grace both in the past and today in the prison and the Governor's house. It's clear that Dr. Jordan is fascinated by Grace, though her memories of that fateful day remain trapped inside so far.

I'm just a few episodes into the 6-episode series, but I am enjoying it very much. The story has so far stayed close to the book, and it is wonderful to see this intriguing novel brought to life on the screen. While the story is engrossing, part of the appeal of this show (and the book) are the details of life in the 1800's - seeing Toronto as a growing city with muddy roads or the way that poor people lived or the wealthy homes are run with the servants' lives behind the scenes. The settings and costumes are as fascinating as the story. As with the book, the question that runs through the entire story is whether Grace Marks actually committed the murders she is accused of or whether she was an innocent victim? You decide (our book group was split!). Either way, this suspenseful historical fiction will keep you riveted.

Alias Grace is a Netflix original program, so it is available for streaming only on Netflix or you can get the DVD (buy it or borrow from your library).



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

TV Shows We Are Watching - Summer 2018

In looking for a TV show to review today, I realized that I have already reviewed many of the shows we are currently watching or looking forward to this summer. So, here is an overview of some of our favorite shows of summer, with links to prior reviews (including trailers).

My husband and I are currently watching two shows on cable that we were excited to see returning this summer, plus I am watching two network shows on my own:

Humans (BBC/AMC) is a unique sci fi drama set in the near future where there are lifelike androids that act like servants to humans and do menial work. Now, in the third season, many of the "synths" have become conscious (I'll save the surprise as to how and why for you to discover in prior seasons), leading to fear and violence among humans. This is an intense, exciting, and thought-provoking drama that we look forward to each week. Season 1 and season 2 are currently available for free on Amazon, with season 3 episodes starting at $1.99 or available for free On Demand or at the AMC website.

Salvation (CBS) is another sci fi show that started last summer and is back for a second season. The premise is that a giant meteor, large enough to cause a massive extinction event, is headed for Earth, and a small group of scientists and government officials are working hard to figure out how to stop it, with time running out. Of course, there are bad guys who want to take advantage of the impending disaster for their own gain. As the second season starts, word of the meteor has gotten out to the public, causing panic, and a terrorist group has taken control of the rescue efforts. As with many popular TV shows, the science is a bit iffy, but we enjoy this action-packed thriller. Season 1 is available free on Amazon or at CBS All Access. Season 2 is currently airing (3 episodes so far) and is available On Demand and on the CBS website (just those first 3).

Younger (TV Land) is one of my favorite shows, and I look forward to its return every summer! It's a dramedy about a 40-year old single mom who lies about her age to get back into the publishing world, after her 15-year hiatus for motherhood. I know, I know - that doesn't sound very believable that a 40-year old woman could pass as a 26-year old, but Sutton Foster is great in the lead role, with an excellent supporting cast, and the whole show is very well done. Now, in its 5th season, Younger just gets better and better as the lies pile up, and certain people in her life find out the truth. You can watch Younger on Amazon, with season 1 starting at $1.99 an episode or $7.99 a season. All 5 seasons are available for free On Demand (a rarity!) for cable subscribers.

The Bold Type (Freeform, formerly ABC Family) got me hooked last summer, with its first season. The show features three young women just starting out in the world of magazine publishing in NYC. The three millennials all work for a fashion magazine (clearly based on Cosmo) in the first season, though each has a different job and different career aspirations. The show follows their ups and downs with friendship, work, and relationships. It's a lot of fun and visually gorgeous, but it also digs into some serious issues like racism, immigration, and sexual harassment. Season 1 and Season 2 are both available on Amazon, starting at $1.99 an episode or $16.99 a season. A few episodes (including the first two of season 1 if you want to try it out) are available free at the Freeform website, and season 2 is currently available free On Demand for cable subscribers.

And on streaming:

Bosch (Amazon) is a favorite that is back for its 4th season. My husband and I are both big fans of the books, written by Michael Connelly, and love the TV series that brings the books to life, with Titus Welliver perfectly portraying LAPD Detective Harry Bosch. This is a straight-up detective series, with each season the adaptation of one of Connelly's best-selling novels. Season 4 is currently airing, based on the novel Angels Flight. Everything about this show is top-notch, from the cast to the writing to the carefully plotted mysteries. If you want to start back at season 1, all seasons are available free on Amazon Prime.




Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) is coming back for its 6th and final season on July 27. I CAN'T WAIT!!! This is one of my all-time favorite shows, and my husband likes it, too. The trailer for season 6 looks amazing (but poor Suzanne!):



A few that I haven't reviewed yet (but hope to soon):

Goliath (Amazon) is back for its second season. We enjoyed the first season of this legal thriller starring Billy Bob Thornton.

Breaking Bad (originally AMC, now on Netflix and Amazon) - yes, finally! Are we the last people on Earth to discover this show? We spent our 4th of July binge-watching it. I know the plot summary doesn't sound interesting, but it is a great show. Review to come soon, in case there are other late adopters like us.

Alias Grace (Netflix) is adapted from the historical novel by Margaret Atwood, based on the true story of a woman accused of murder in the 1800's. I recently enjoyed the book, so I've started the TV mini-series (2 episodes in so far), and it is very good.

GLOW (Netflix) is another new one for me, though it just started its second season. Based in part on real life, it is about the start of GLOW, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, in the 1980's. I've watched a few episodes so far and am hooked!

There are more, but those are the main shows we are watching so far this summer!

What summer shows are you enjoying or looking forward to their return?

Monday, July 09, 2018

Movie Monday: Lady Bird


After hearing so many accolades (nominated for 199 awards, including 5 Oscars, including Best Picture) of this movie, I was eager to see it, so when my husband was away on business recently, I watched it...and loved it! Lady Bird is a tender, realistic, funny coming-of-age story that focuses on the relationship between a mother and her teen daughter, with top-notch writing and acting.

Saoirse Ronan plays 17-year old Christine, on the cusp of adulthood, unsure what her future holds, and wanting to be called Lady Bird. The acclaimed and award-winning Laurie Metcalf plays her mother, Marion, who wants what's best for her daughter but doesn't always understand her struggles or her dreams. The story follows the relationship between the two of them in Sacramento during Lady Bird's senior year of high school. In the course of the movie, Lady Bird has her first boyfriend, discovers drama club, ditches her best friend for someone cooler and more popular, and struggles with college applications and plans for her future. Through it all, she and her mom are in constant conflict, though she has a very sweet relationship with her dad.

All the rave reviews I heard about this movie were right on-target. It's a perfect combination of warmth, angst, and humor - pretty much the epitome of being a teenager. Metcalf and Ronan are both excellent in their roles as the often-fighting but still loving mother and daughter. Both bring out the complexities of their roles and relationships. While some scenes are sad or angry, humor is perfectly woven through the entire film, making it a joy to watch. By the end, I was rooting for Lady Bird's dreams to come true.

Lady Bird is now out on DVD and is available for streaming free on Amazon Prime.



     DVD:

It's Monday 7/9! What Are You Reading?

We had a beautiful weekend here!! Our unbearable heat & humidity finally dropped for a few days, and we were able to open our windows again and spend a little time working in the yard (which looks like a jungle). THIS time, as I weeded a portion, I asked my husband to get mulch to spread over it, so I won't have to re-do it again in a week! I just came in from the yard again this morning, but our temperature is going up near 90 today, and the humidity will be back tomorrow, so that's it for me for a while. My illness makes me very heat intolerant. So, feeling very grateful for a few lovely days to enjoy the outdoors.

Meanwhile, our sons are off to Rhode Island (Watch Hill and Block Island) on their grandparents' sailboat with their cousins, a beloved annual tradition known as the Grandchildren's Cruise! Even though our sons are now 20 and 23, this is still the highlight of the year for them. We are SO thankful that our younger son recovered from his concussion in time to go and that our older son finished his summer class (last college class!) on Friday. Hopefully, they are both relaxing and having a great time. We'll be heading out ourselves this weekend for my annual sorority reunion - thankfully, it is WAY up north, so hopefully, it will be cool enough since we are bringing our pop-up camper (aka home away from home). We're also making a detour on Sunday to my hometown, Rochester, for a big family reunion. Busy weekend but should be fun!

Amidst all this summer fun, we are, of course, enjoying our books, too, with a heavy focus on Big Books, as always in summertime:
  • I finished my second Big Book for my Big Book Summer Challenge: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (book 2 in the Outlander series). It was just as compelling and engaging as Outlander was. It's quite different, since much of it takes place in 1744 Paris, rather than the Scottish Highlands, but Claire and Jamie are just as wonderful. Since I also recently finished watching season 1 of the TV show, they now feel like old friends. I just finished last night and am laughing because I see that last Monday, I said I was almost done! It's all relative with a 700+ page book. I am dying to start reading book #3 immediately, but I have some bookish obligations for book group & review - can't really fit in a 1000-page book right now!
  • I just started The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, the choice for one of my book groups this month. I'm a bit wary of this one. It's a memoir Wolfe wrote in 1968 about a road trip with Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and a bunch of other drug-addled hippies in a psychedelic school bus. One of our group members already e-mailed saying she gave up halfway through. It is written in 60's slang (groovy is just the tip of the iceberg), including some rather offensive racial terms. We'll see - I'm giving it a chance. Oh, it IS over 400 pages, so it will count as a Big Book (if I finish it!).
  • On audio, I am listening to Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a freebie from SYNC one summer. I last read this novel in 9th grade and remember enjoying it. I am loving it this time around - I'd forgotten that Dickens had a good sense of humor! The story is completely engrossing and kept me company during my weeding sessions.
  • My husband, Ken, is also reading his second Big Book of the summer and one of my all-time favorites, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This was one of my Big Book Summer reads a few years ago, and Ken gamely watched the movie adaptation with me, even though he found it pretty confusing (I loved the movie). It's a complicated but engrossing book, with multiple interwoven stories that show how we are all connected across space and time. He is at about the halfway point and is enjoying it overall, though he doesn't like the writing as much as I did.
  • Our son, Jamie, 23, is reading book 10, Crossroads of Twilight, of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. He has been plowing through this series, one huge book at a time. It's Big Book Summer all year-round for him; he rarely reads a book with under 400 pages! Most of the books in this series are between 900 and 1200 pages!
Blog posts last week - busy week!
Movie Monday: Game Night - fun, suspenseful & very funny

TV Tuesday: The Letdown - hilarious Australian show about a new mother

Summary of Books Read in June - a good reading month for me!

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.   

What are you and your family reading this week? 

The 2018 Big Book Summer Reading Challenge is on, and there is still plenty of time to join! It's easy-going, like summer - you only need to read one book with 400 or more pages sometime between now and the end of summer (early September) to participate (though of course, you can read more Big Books, if you want to). It's great motivation to tackle some of the bigger books on your shelves or TBR that usually get overlooked. Check out the details at the link and join the fun!

Friday, July 06, 2018

Books Read in June

Oh, yeah - summarizing June, and it's only July 6! This is definitely a record for me. My Big Book Summer Challenge makes it easier, since I have been reading the same book for 2 weeks now so that means fewer reviews to write.

June was a good reading month for me - here's what I finished last month:
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (OH) - YA post-apocalyptic fiction
  • The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Jean E. Pendziwol (Canada) - adult fiction on audio
  • Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding (WA) - adult fiction (reviewed for Shelf Awareness)


So, that's a total of six books in June, all fiction, with four adult novels and 2 YA novels. I listened to three books on audio (and all very good - an excellent audio month!). For pure blow-me-away literary power, The Reason You're Alive takes the prize (as Quick's novels always do for me), but I also loved Delia Owen's debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing - I both reviewed the book and interviewed the author and will share the link when both are published on Shelf Awareness next month.

Progress in 2018 Reading Challenges:
This is my favorite part of my monthly summary - updating my Reading Challenges, though I didn't make much progress this month. I once again read only 1 book from my own shelves for my Mount TBR Reading Challenge, bringing my total-to-date to only 11. Since my annual goal this year is 36, I have a long way to go! For the Monthly Motif Reading Challenge, June was Crack the Case, so I counted Her Pretty Face, which is suspense. Nothing new for the Back to the Classics Challenge, but I added one more to the 2018 Badass Books Challenge: a Book that You've Put Off Reading - The 5th Wave fits that category (along with all my other Big Books planned for this summer!). I added Canada to my Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge. For my 2018 Literary Escapes Challenge, I added three new states - Ohio, North Carolina, and Washington - bringing my 6-month total to 17 states, which is well on the way to surpassing my 2017 total of 25. And for my own Big Book Summer Challenge, I finished my first Big Book for 2018 - The 5th Wave (and am well into my 2nd one). There is still plenty of time to join the summer fun - click the link for details!
 
Finally, Bookish Bingo hosted by Chapter Break - not really a challenge per se, but a fun game that I play each month. I filled in 16 squares in June:




Spaces filled in:
The 5th Wave - Missing/disappeared, not a new release, shelf love (TBR), in a series
The Lightkeeper's Daughter - Summer fling, apprentice
Her Pretty Face - Road trip, read a physical book
Where the Crawdads Sing - Free book, accent, jewelry
The Reason You're Alive - Father, anxiety/depression
The Both Die at the End - Audio book, not in a series
Free Space
What was your favorite book read in June? 

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

TV Tuesday: The Letdown

Searching for a new show to try last week while my husband was out of town (we watch a lot of shows together), I stumbled onto The Letdown, an Australian comedy now on Netflix. Though I am well past the babies, breastfeeding, and diapers stage of life, I found this show about a struggling new mother both hilarious and heartwarming.

Alison Bell plays Audrey, a new mom taking a break from her career to stay home and care for her baby, while her husband Jeremy, played by Duncan Fellows, works hard to support their new family. Audrey wants to be a good mom (or mum, rather) but worries that she is failing miserably at it. Her daughter won't sleep through the night, Audrey and Jeremy can't bear to let her "cry it out," and Audrey is seriously sleep-deprived and misses her old life...but of course, feels guilty about that. She joins a new mother's group, where at first she feels like everyone else is doing a better job than she is at motherhood. Attempts to have a night out, meet up with old work friends, and even take on a temporary job all have disastrous - and hilarious - results.

I expected to find this half-hour comedy mildly amusing (perhaps because my own sons are in their 20's now, so I am well past Audrey's stage of life), but right from the start, it was very, very funny and had me laughing out loud. Any parent will be able to relate to Audrey and Jeremy's struggles to figure out how they fit into their new roles, though the show also deals with other issues as well, including marriage, aging parents, and work lives. The scenes with the new mother's group are especially good, as those characters gradually become a part of Audrey's life. The laughs were expected, but I also grew to really care about Audrey and found each new episode even more warm and engaging. I just finished season 1 today, and it looks like they are set up for a second season - I certainly hope so!

The Letdown is currently available on Netflix.

Not really a trailer, but here is a brief scene from the show, from one of the mother's group meetings, where they were asked to bring a parenting book they recommend, and Audrey misunderstood (sleep deprivation!) and brought Frankenstein:


Monday, July 02, 2018

Movie Monday: Game Night

As regular readers of my blog know, we've had a rough month or so around here. In the midst of a string of crises a few weeks ago, my husband and I were in desperate need of a light, funny movie to escape into, so we chose Game Night from Redbox. To be clear, when I first saw the previews and ads for this movie in the winter, I did not plan to see it - I thought it looked kind of stupid. Then, I heard a good review of it from my friends at Pop Culture Happy Hour, one of my favorite podcasts, so I decided to give it a try. This thriller comedy turned out to be a lot of fun, surprising, and very funny.

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams star as Max and Annie, a married couple who are highly competitive and love to play games. They often host game nights for their friends. On this particular night, they've invited two other couples over for games and worked hard to hide their game night preparations from their creepy neighbor, Gary (played by Jesse Plemons). Max's super-successful brother, Brooks (played by Kyle Chandler) shows up. As usual, Brooks one-ups Max and hosts another game night at his expensive house the following weekend, and explains that he's booked a special surprise for the night - a murder mystery put on by a local company. Soon, a fake FBI agent shows up at the house to kick off the evening's fun - he explains that one of the guests will be kidnapped and the others have to follow the clues to find him or her. In the midst of his explanation, two thugs show up and violently take Brooks away. Max, Annie, and their friends assume this is the fake kidnapping and set off to follow the clues. What they don't know is that Brooks was really kidnapped by some serious criminals and is involved with some scary stuff.

What follows is a comedy of errors, as the couples set off to find Brooks, not realizing they are following real thugs carrying real guns. As you can imagine, this leads to plenty of suspense and lots of laughs. Though I expected the sort of slapstick, silly comedy I don't really enjoy, this movie turned out to be really, truly funny and quite clever in a unique blend of thriller and comedy. Bateman and McAdams are excellent in these roles and play off each other perfectly. Their acting and the writing are absolutely hilarious, but it is also a suspenseful thriller with plenty of surprising twists along the way to an ending we never saw coming. All in all, it was exactly what we needed that weekend: a lot of laughs and a lot of fun.

Game Night is currently out on DVD and available streaming on Amazon.



    

It's Monday 7/2! What Are You Reading?

It's July?? How'd that happen? It feels sudden but on the other hand, we were glad to say good-bye to June. It was a pretty rocky month around here. Here's to smooth sailing the rest of the summer!

Our youngest son is recovering wonderfully from his concussion - much quicker than expected. He says the headache is mostly gone, no nausea or motion sickness, and he's feeling much better. Just a bit of lingering fatigue and spaciness - like when I burned my hand cooking dinner last night and asked him to bring me the aloe. He went upstairs for about 15 min, came down and looked at me blankly when I asked if he'd found the aloe! He said, "See what I mean?" ha ha But overall, he is doing great and recovering faster than expected. He even moved into his new college duplex last week, to join his friends. So, life is returning to normal. In fact, we are suddenly back to an empty nest, as our other son left to stay with his girlfriend for a while.

Lots of catching up last week around the house, with my writing, etc., but we always have time for our books! Here's what we've been reading this past week:
  • I am still reading my second Big Book for my Big Book Summer Challenge: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (book 2 in the Outlander series). This 700+ page chunkster has been in my plans the past three years for Big Book Summer, so I am glad to finally be reading it. And it is just as compelling and engaging as Outlander was. It's quite different, since much of it takes place in 1744 Paris, rather than the Scottish Highlands, but Claire and Jamie are just as wonderful. Since I also recently finished watching season 1 of the TV show, they now feel like old friends. I am nearing the end now (well, it's all relative with such a long book!).
  • On audio, I am listening to Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a freebie from SYNC one summer. I thought that since my book reading is focused on Big Book Summer, and I haven't read a classic for my 2018 Classics Challenge in a few months, audio would be a great way to fit one in. I last read this novel in 9th grade and remember enjoying it. I am loving it this time around - I'd forgotten that Dickens had a good sense of humor! My neighbors probably thought I was crazy last week - walking around my neighborhood with my earbuds in, laughing out loud! I may have even snorted once or twice.
  • My husband, Ken, is also reading his second Big Book of the summer and one of my all-time favorites, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This was one of my Big Book Summer reads a few years ago, and Ken gamely watched the movie adaptation with me, even though he found it pretty confusing. It's a complicated but engrossing book, with multiple interwoven stories that show how we are all connected across space and time. He didn't have much reading time last week, since he was away at a business conference.
  • Our son, Jamie, 23, finished book 9, Winter's Heart, of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. He has now moved onto book 10, Crossroads of Twilight. It's Big Book Summer all year-round for him; he rarely reads a book with under 400 pages! 
  • And our younger son Craig, 20, makes another rare appearance here: he normally doesn't like to read (I would claim he was swapped at birth but he looks just like me), but the restrictions post-concussion (no screens, no noise, no reading) left him with nothing to do. Like with his last concussion, he turned to the Harry Potter audio books, not only to ease his boredom but also to provide the comfort of favorite old stories and characters. I think he is still listening to The Goblet of Fire, but since he is feeling better and I see the old cassette player & tapes in his room here and not at school with him, I suspect he is back to his non-reading status! 
Last week's blog posts -
Movie Monday: Every Day - based on David Levithan's popular YA novel

TV Tuesday: For the People - a new legal drama from Shonda Rhimes

Teen/YA Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera - a moving, original story

Saturday Snapshot: Family Road Trip Memories - Just a few highlights of our 15+ years of road trips - feeling nostalgic!

And speaking of road trips, one of my essays, The End of the Road, was published in the July/August issue of Your Teen magazine. You can read an online version here.

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.   

What are you and your family reading this week? 



The 2018 Big Book Summer Reading Challenge is on, and there is still plenty of time to join! It's easy-going, like summer - you only need to read one book with 400 or more pages sometime between now and the end of summer (early September) to participate (though of course, you can read more Big Books, if you want to). It's great motivation to tackle some of the bigger books on your shelves or TBR that usually get overlooked. Check out the details at the link and join the fun!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saturday Snapshot: Family Road Trip Memories


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mommy Reads.

This week, one of my articles was published in Your Teen magazine's July/August issue: End of the Road, an essay about our family road trips. Here is the online version of it on their website.

I was already missing our family trips and feeling in desperate need of a vacation, so the publication of this essay has me going down memory lane (or memory highway)! With all our varied crises lately, we haven't had time for even a weekend trip or a vacation with just my husband and I. So, here are just a few of the highlights from our 15+ years of cross-country family road trips:

Our first road trip in 2000! 1 hr into a 10-day drive, our toddler yelled, "All done!"

Riding a camel at the Knoxville Zoo, 2001
Hiking in Bryce Canyon, 2002

Escalante Petrified Wood State Park, UT 2002
Mount Rushmore, 2003
Doyle's Falls - Shenandoah NP, 2004

Hiking at Petit Jean SP, Arkansas 2004
The Notch Trail - Badlands NP, South Dakota 2005
Happy travelers!

Digging for diamonds - Crater of Diamonds State Park, AR 2007

Canoe camping - Buffalo National River in AR - 2007

Carhenge - Nebraska 2008

Rocky Mountain National Park 2009

Bandolier National Monument - New Mexico 2010
Acadia National Park, Maine 2013

Our last family road trip - hiking in White Mountains, NH 2014
sigh...makes me want to hit the road!

Hope you are enjoying a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Teen/YA Review: They Both Die At the End

I've been hearing rave reviews of the teen/YA novel They Both Die At the End by Adam Silvera since its release last fall, so I was glad to have a chance to listen to it on audio last week. This warm, moving, original story lived up to all its hype.

In the near-future, people are informed by Death-Cast, calling between midnight and 3 am, that they will die that day. This has given rise to a whole new vernacular, with Deckers being those who've been informed, a Twitter-like social media site called CountDowners, and an app called Last Friend. At the start of this novel that takes place in a 24-hour period, both Mateo and Rufus get the call from Death-Cast. For various reasons, they are each separated from their friends and family and reach out on Last Friend, where they find each other (after some humorous mismatches on both parts). The two boys, both 18 or nearly so, meet up in the early morning hours and spend their last day together wandering around New York City together. Along the way, they have some necessary stops to make - at the hospital to visit Mateo's dad, for instance - but they both also want to make this last day count. Rufus has lived a pretty good life, though his past year has been filled with personal tragedy, but Mateo is a shy, introverted guy who feels like this is his last chance to really live - and Rufus is happy to help him. The two young men form a surprisingly strong connection in that day, for two people who started out as strangers.

I know this premise sounds incredibly depressing - and it is sad to witness two young lives cut short - but the story is also uplifting, moving, and sometimes even funny. Witnessing this close bond form between Mateo and Rufus in such a short time is heartwarming, as if they both find exactly what they need in the other. Their day together is a mix of tying up loose ends and saying good-bye with living for the moment and enjoying their last hours. Chapters alternate between their two viewpoints, but other perspectives are also woven into the story - some other Deckers informed that day and some people who will cross paths with Mateo and Rufus in unexpected ways. It was wonderful on audio, with different first-person narrators for the two boys helping to immerse you in the story. I came to love Rufus and Mateo and root for them to make the most of their last day in this compelling and wholly unique novel about life, love, and loss.

384 pages, HarperTeen
HarperAudio

Listen to a sample of the audio from the beginning of the novel, starting with Mateo's narration.

Purchase They Both Die At the End from an indie bookstore:
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Or order They Both Die At the End from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.