Tuesday, June 11, 2024

TV Tuesday: Dark Matter

I absolutely love when a book I enjoyed is adapted into a TV show or movie, so I was incredibly excited to hear that Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (my review at the link) was going to air on Apple TV. This is one of my all-time favorite books, a twisty sci fi thriller, and so far, the TV adaptation, Dark Matter, is living up to its source material.

Jason Desson, played by Joel Edgerton, is happily married to Daniela, played by Jennifer Connelly, and they both adore their teen son, Charlie, played by Oakes Fegley. They live in Chicago, and Jason works as a physics professor at a small, local college. Daniela had dreams of being a professional artist, but she now works to help support their family. In the first episode, Daniela encourages Jason to go to a party at a local bar, honoring his best friend, Ryan (played by Jimmi Simpson), who just won a prestigious science award. From their conversation at the party, it's clear that Jason is just as talented but chose the path he did to support his family more reliably. Ryan asks Jason to join him in a new venture, but it would require moving to California, and Jason turns him down. Walking home, Jason is brooding over the path not taken when he is suddenly grabbed on the street and kidnapped. He's taken to a deserted warehouse by his masked captor and injected with something. The next thing he knows, he's waking up in a place he doesn't recognize, surrounded by people he doesn't know but that know him. They say he's been gone for over a year, and they're glad to see him. Jason finds out that this place has the technology to travel to parallel universes, a concept he understands because he himself did the initial research years ago, before he got married. He realizes that he is somehow in one of those parallel worlds, and he is desperate to get back to his wife and son ... but how?

As with the book, this TV show is based on a mind-blowing concept, that there are infinite worlds and that with every choice made or change in events, another variation splinters off. This isn't fantasy but science fiction, based on quantum mechanics (don't worry--it's all beyond my understanding, too!). Crouch put this fascinating concept to good use in this twisty, gripping, and thought-provoking thriller. My husband and I both loved this fabulous novel, and the TV show hews very closely to the book (much to our delight), probably due to the author being the one who created the show and did much of its writing to adapt it. Blake Crouch is adept at that, having written other TV shows, including Wayward Pines and Good Behavior (also based on his own novels). So, the writing is sharp and engaging. The actors all do a great job here, each portraying the same character in many different worlds, each one the same person but slightly different. And that plot! It's unique, suspenseful, and full of surprises. The cinematography is also outstanding for the small screen, as Jason visits Chicago in world after world (some of them apocalyptic). It's just an all-around outstanding TV show. Apple TV really seems to excel at science fiction shows (like their adaptation of Silo by Hugh Howey, coming back soon for season 2, and For All Mankind, an alternative history of the space program). We are loving this one and look forward to a new episode every week!

Dark Matter is currently airing on Apple TV. We've seen six of the nine episodes and will be watching #7 tonight. I can't wait!

I practically squealed in delight watching this trailer again:

Monday, June 10, 2024

It's Monday 6/10! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by The Book Date

Life

Whew, June is a busy month! Fortunately, I had a pretty low-key week last week, with no appointments, so I had a chance to catch up a bit and record more of my audio book. It's been hard to keep up with the amazing response to Big Book Summer this year! My one big outing last week, which could not be put off any longer, was to go shopping for a dress for the wedding we're attending this coming weekend in Virginia. Success! Shopping is a tough one with my chronic illness, but I found a dress I love in just one trip to one store and about 60 minutes of trying on dozens of dresses! Victory!

Ready for my shopping expedition!

This weekend, we drove to Connecticut for our nephew's graduation party (and a belated celebration for our niece, who graduated in 2020). It was about 12 hours of driving for about 5 hours with my family, but we're so glad we could go and celebrate with them! They are both amazing people.

 

My niece and I

My husband and I with our nephew

My sister held the party at a really cool place with all kinds of games, so both the kids and the adults had a lot of fun! My husband and I relived our youth with skeeball and pinball, and I played cornhole for the first time. My husband and I even won a round. It was great to just hang out with my family and have fun when it wasn't a holiday. I was in pretty bad shape yesterday (probably my worst day yet this year because I've been doing so well), but I had all day to rest in the car. I'm such a wimp these days that I actually had sore muscles from two rounds of cornhole - ha ha! But I'm doing well today.

My son and husband playing cornhole

Our nephew playing pool with his friends

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On the Blog

I didn't have time to write a review last week--it was Big Book Summer time all the time! You can check out the challenge page for links to about 20 great book blogs and Booktube channels participating (plus many more Booktubers who didn't add their links--it's amazing how fast it spread this year!). I've enjoyed discovering some new-to-me Booktube channels with great content. And the Big Book Summer Goodreads group now has 102 participants signed up! Lots of fun reading and chatting about books.

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On Video

Big Book Summer has added almost 500 new subscribers to my channel in the past month or so, which is stunning! Usually my subscriber count goes up by 10-12 a month. It's been fun finding so many new-to-me channels. My new videos last week:

May Reading Wrap-Up - an overview of the 7 books I read last month, all excellent. It was a great reading month!

Friday Reads 6-7-24 - my brief weekly update of what I am reading and listening to - last week, it was my two Big Books, on print and audio.

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 What We're Reading
 

Now (and probably for quite a few weeks to come!), I am reading my first Big Book of the summer, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. For years, I've been hearing readers rave about how wonderful this Western novel is, so I'm glad to finally be reading it for myself. It's set in 1870 with two older men, Augustus McCrae and Captain Woodrow Call, who are ex-Texas Rangers. They now own a small livery business in the tiny town of Lonesome Dove on the Mexico border, a desolate place. They have a small group of men who live there and help them. Early in the novel, another ex-Ranger named Jake comes to visit, fresh from Montana, and Call gets the idea to put together a herd of cattle and drive them all the way to Montana, even though they haven't done a cattle drive in years. I'm up to around page 270, and I'm enjoying it very much. The characters and setting are engaging, and it's got a great sense of humor (always a plus for me). So many other people participating in Big Book Summer were also reading this book that I made it our official readalong book, and I'm enjoying the discussions in the group on Goodreads.


I finished my first audio for Big Book Summer, The Women by Kristin Hannah. What a stunning novel! Perhaps my #1 of the year so far. Twenty-year-old Frankie, recently graduated from nursing school, has taken her family's dedication to service to heart and enlisted in the Army, to join her beloved brother, Finlay, in Vietnam. But her parents are horrified, especially after they are notified that Finlay was killed. After basic training, Frankie is shipped to Vietnam and immediately taken to a remote field hospital. It was all men on her flight, but in the field, she meets her roommates, Barb and Ethel, two other nurses. Her first day there, multiple helicopters carry in soldiers, wounded in horrible ways, and Frankie is immediately out of her depth. The novel follows Frankie and her friends not just during their horrific experiences in the war but through the aftermath of it and what the soldiers experienced upon returning to the U.S. Wow, this is such an amazing novel--completely engrossing and so powerful. It's also an important book, bringing to light the experiences of women in Vietnam, which were mostly overlooked. I need to pick my next audio Big Book, but I'm not ready to move on yet.


This weekend, my husband and I started an audio book (Big Book, of course) while traveling because we have 3 road trips planned in the next 3 weeks! We started listening to Luminous Dead by Caitlyn Starling, a unique sci fi thriller. It's been compared to The Martian by Andy Weir because it features only one character physically present, with a second monitoring from afar. The set-up here is a cave diver who signed up for a special expedition on a planet filled with caves. Gyre lied about her qualifications to get the job, but now she's on her own, well below ground, with only a voice, who says to call her Em, in her helmet to keep her company. Gyre expected a whole team to be backing her up, but she soon discovers it's just Em, who is keeping the reason for the expedition a secret. Em has full control over Gyre's high-tech suit, but Gyre doesn't like to give up control. As the mission gets more and more dangerous, Gyre must rely on Em, though she knows she's lied. Oh, and there's some sort of creature on this planet called a Tunneler who strikes fear into both women's hearts. It's good so far, different but very suspenseful and intriguing.

 

My husband's first Big Book for the summer (yes, he joins the challenge, too!) is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, one of my favorites from last summer (my review at the link). I hope he enjoys this suspenseful, funny, heartbreaking classic as much as I did. 

 

Our son, 29, is probably still reading book 2 of the Licanius Trilogy by James Islington, An Echo of Things to Come since he was pretty busy this past week driving all over the US! When he was a kid, he'd bring an entire duffel bag stuffed full of books on our 3-week summer road trip, but he's trying to keep his girlfriend company when it's her turn to drive. They've had an amazing road trip so far and will be home on Wednesday. This past week, they explored Yellowstone, enjoyed the Black Hills and Badlands National Park in South Dakota (our family favorites), stopped in Iowa, Chicago, Cleveland, Indiana Dunes National Park, and are now in West Virginia, where they greatly enjoyed whitewater rafting yesterday. What an epic trip!

Badlands National Park

Mount Rushmore, SD

Whitewater Rafting

Yellowstone National Park

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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?

Monday, June 03, 2024

It's Monday 6/3! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by The Book Date

Life

Wow, it's a good thing I didn't have much scheduled last week because the response to Big Book Summer this year has been phenomenal! In fact, it took me all weekend to catch up on all the new sign-ups (and I still have some more videos to watch). After hosting the challenge for the last 12 years, I guess the word is out! We now have 80 participants signed up in the Goodreads group, dozens of Booktubers joining the fun, and a bunch of bloggers, too. Check out the Big Book Summer Challenge page for a bunch of links to other blogs and video channels (scroll to the bottom)--you might just discover a new-to-you book blog or channel that you love! And if you're participating, with or without a blog, be sure to join the Goodreads group so you can talk to others about books all summer long!

 


When I said that I was reading Lonesome Dove this summer for the challenge, dozens of other people also said they were reading it, too, so I made it the official readalong book of Big Book Summer! I added a couple of extra discussion threads to the Goodreads group, so whether you're reading it now or read it in the past, join the conversation!

And I finally started recording the audio for my own book, Finding a New Normal: Living Your Best Life with Chronic Illness. I actually bought the course on how to do it in February 2023, watched the first section on equipment, bought the equipment ... and then did nothing until last week! I'll blame my poor health last year, though procrastination may have been involved, too! I've set up my "recording studio" in my son's closet and have finally watched more of the course and recorded the first two chapters. I'll be working on that more this week.

My fancy recording studio!

This weekend, we scrubbed our screened porch and all the furniture, now that the nasty yellow pollen finally stopped. We had great weather, and it's all nice and clean now and ready to be used! 

Everything scrubbed up and drying out!

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On the Blog

Fiction Review: Honey by Victor Lodato - this past Booktopia author has done it again, with a beautifully-written novel that features an unforgettable main character who, in her 80's, learns it's never too late to change - moving, funny, insightful & the ending left me with tears in my eyes. My full review and an audio sample at the link.

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On Video

Big Book Recommendations for #BigBookSummer or Anytime! - for this video, I walked around to some of our bookcases and quickly ran through dozens and dozens of Big books (400 or more pages) that my husband and I have enjoyed over the years - great book recommendations, whether you're participating in the challenge or not.

Friday Reads 5/31/24 - my weekly wrap-up of what I am reading & listening to, here including four outstanding novels: the two I just finished and the two I started for Big Book Summer.

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 What We're Reading

 

I absolutely loved The East Indian by Brinda Charry, a Booktopia book/author from 2023. It was my mom's favorite last year at Booktopia. Historical fiction about the first native of India to come to colonial America in the 1600's, it's based on a real historical figure. Twelve-year-old Tony (obviously not his original name!) sails from his home on the eastern Indian coast to London on a British East India Company ship, after his mother dies and he's left alone. He's settling in at London, with a job and a home with a fellow Indian immigrant, when he is kidnapped along with a bunch of other kids and taken across the Atlantic to Virginia. Tony encounters a lot of challenges and sorrow, but eventually, he is on his way to living his dream of becoming a physician. My mom was right--this is a wonderful novel, filled with fascinating historical details about the colony and 1600's medicine, plus a poignant portrait of Tony and his fellow young servants who never asked for this life.

 

Now (and probably for quite a few weeks to come!), I am reading my first Big Book of the summer, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. For years, I've been hearing readers rave about how wonderful this Western novel is, so I'm glad to finally be reading it for myself. It's set in 1870 with two older men, Augustus McCrae and Captain Woodrow Call, who are ex-Texas Rangers. They now own a small livery business in the tiny town of Lonesome Dove on the Mexico border, a desolate place. They have a small group of men who live there and help them. Early in the novel, another ex-Ranger named Jake comes to visit, fresh from Montana, and Call gets the idea to put together a herd of cattle and drive them all the way to Montana, even though they haven't done a cattle drive in years. I'm about 110 pages in (about one-eighth!), and I'm enjoying it so far. The characters and setting are engaging, and it's got a great sense of humor (always a plus for me).

 

My first audio for Big Book Summer is The Women by Kristin Hannah. I've been saving this one for summer! Twenty-year-old Frankie, recently graduated from nursing school, has taken her family's dedication to service to heart and enlisted in the Army, to join her beloved brother, Finlay, in Vietnam. But her parents are horrified, especially after they are notified that Finlay was killed. After basic training, Frankie is shipped to Vietnam and immediately taken to a remote field hospital. It was all men on her flight, but in the field, she meets her roommates, Barb and Ethel, two other nurses. Her first day there, multiple helicopters carry in soldiers, wounded in horrible ways, and Frankie is immediately out of her depth. The novel follows Frankie and her friends not just during their horrific experiences in the war but through the aftermath of it and what the soldiers experienced upon returning to the U.S. Wow, this is an absolutely stunning novel--completely engrossing and so powerful. It's also an important book, bringing to light the experiences of women in Vietnam, which were mostly overlooked.

 

My husband's first Big Book for the summer (yes, he joins the challenge, too!) is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, one of my favorites from last summer (my review at the link). I hope he enjoys this suspenseful, funny, heartbreaking classic as much as I did. He says the Joad family has just started out on their long trip to California.

 

Our son, 29, is still reading book 2 of the Licanius Trilogy by James Islington, An Echo of Things to Come since he was pretty busy this past week driving all over the US! When he was a kid, he'd bring an entire duffle bag stuffed full of books on our 3-week summer road trip, but he's trying to keep his girlfriend company when it's her turn to drive. They've had an amazing road trip so far and are about at the halfway point. This week, they drove from Colorado through Utah and onto Idaho, where she has family. They took a little break there and spent time with her cousins, then drove onto Yellowstone this weekend.

In Utah (Capital Reef National Park, I think)

In Idaho at Lake Coeur d'Alene with a cousin.
 

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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?