Thursday, July 22, 2021

Fiction Review: The Air You Breathe

I finished my 5th Big Book of the summer, The Air You Breathe by Frances De Pontes Peebles and really enjoyed it. It’s historical fiction set in Brazil, beginning in the 1930’s, about an intense relationship between two women and the music they shared.

 

The women first meet as nine-year-old girls from very different backgrounds in rural Brazil. Gracas is the “Little Miss” of a sugar plantation. Her family has just moved there to take over the plantation, and she has been brought up in a wealthy, pampered environment. Dores is a kitchen girl, an orphan widely considered among the other servants as the lowest among them, who has never known love, affection, or the freedom of childhood play. Gracas is soon bored at the plantation and intrigued by the other girl her own age, so she demands that Dores play with her. Her mother acquiesces and allows Dores time away from the kitchen. The two girls become fast friends, running around the plantation together. When Gracas’ mother takes them to a concert and buys a record player, they both become enamored with music and dream of becoming famous singers on the radio. As teens, they run away to Rio together to make their dreams come true. The novel moves back and forth from the present, when Dores is an elderly woman, to her retelling the story of their past. In Rio and beyond, the girls face one challenge after another together, though it is hard for them to ever shed their original roles.

 

This is a warm, moving story encompassing both pain and joy as the girls chase their dreams. History, race, and class are a part of the story, but music is at the center of it. I wished I were listening on audio, with all of the music included (I don't think it is)! Interspersed between chapters are song lyrics that are relevant, helping to tell the story of not just the music they were creating but their lives at the time. The Brazilian music, culture, and history also underlie their story, and I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in this unfamiliar world. This novel was quite tragic, but it included many instances of pure joy and delight from the happiness they found in making music together. The Air You Breathe is a unique, beautifully written story of complicated friendship, music, and love.

 

449 pages, Riverhead Books

 

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.


Visit my YouTube Channel for more bookish fun!

 

Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible.

 

You can buy the book through Bookshop.org, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!  
 

Or you can order The Air You Breathe from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.

Monday, July 19, 2021

It's Monday 7/19! What Are You Reading?


What a weekend!

Apologies to the blogs I didn't have time to visit last week. I normally do much of my blog visiting on the weekend, but my mother called Friday to ask if they could visit on Saturday. It had been 18 months since we'd had any houseguests, and we hadn't seen them since Christmas 2019, so of course, we said yes (I only just recently hit the "fully vaccinated" milestone due to my immune problems). What followed was a whirlwind of cleaning the house and clearing all my husband's accumulated stuff out of the guest room!

Of course, it was wonderful to see them again! They joined us Saturday evening for an annual joint birthday celebration for me and one of our oldest, dearest friends (who my mom and her husband know well, too) at a favorite restaurant, and it was the first time any of us had hugged each other in at least a year and a half! Funny how hugs have become so meaningful now. I'm a natural hugger, but suddenly, it is such a big deal to be able to hug a friend or family member.

We just hung around the house on Sunday and had my 96-year-old father-in-law over in the afternoon. There was a lot of talking and catching up all weekend! While I took my daily nap, "the boys" (my husband, my son, and his Pop Pop) worked on my son's old car and checked out his new company truck. It's unusual for me, but I forgot to take a single photo all weekend, so here's one my mom took of my son and his Pop Pop with the new truck.

 

Yesterday and today, I was (and am) totally wiped out (that's just how my chronic illness works), but it was worth it, of course.

I posted two new book-related videos to YouTube last week, which you can check out at the links:

And, of course, the #BigBookSummer Challenge continues! Here's what we've all been reading this past week:

I am still reading my 7th #BigBookSummer book, Blackout by Connie Willis, a favorite of mine and my husband's. Willis has a loose series of time travel books, Oxford Time Travel, and if you've read my blog, you know I love any kind of time-twisting plots! We both enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog, a sort of time travel farce, and last summer for Big Book Summer 2020, we both read Doomsday Book and were blown away by it--it was a favorite for both of us. Blackout takes place about four years after that last novel. All of this series are about a group of historians in near-future Oxford who use technology to travel to different time periods. Their role is to observe and learn more about history, not to change anything. In this novel, many historians are traveling back and forth to various places and times during World War II (including Dunkirk, Pearl Harbor, rural England where children were evacuated to, London during the Blitz, and more). This time, though, things begin to go wrong with their time travel technology and mistakes start to occur. As with all of Willis' books, it is completely engrossing, and I am loving it.

I am also listening to a Big Book on audio, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. It is a complex narrative at first, but I am well into it now (almost finished) and enjoying it. It's narrated by twelve-year-old Eli Bell, who lives in Australia. His mother and step-father are heroin dealers, his older brother, Gus, is mute, and his best friend is an elderly, notorious felon named Slim who is know for his multiple prison escapes. So, there is a lot going on here and a lot for Eli and Gus to deal with, but it's interesting and engaging. As you might guess from that set-up, Eli doesn't have an easy life, and things are about to get a whole lot worse for him and Gus. But Eli is clever and determined and has learned a lot from his buddy, Slim. This is a unique novel, and I'm really enjoying it so far.

My husband, Ken, has started on another Father's Day gift, The Lost Man by Jane Harper. This author of Australian thrillers has become a favorite of ours (and many other people!) recently, and we both read and enjoyed her first two novels, The Dry and Force of Nature. This third novel is a departure from those first two, as it does not feature Australian Federal Agent Aaron Falk. Instead, it focuses in on one Australian family. In the Australian outback, two brothers, Nathan and Bub, meet, for the first time in many months, at the remote fence line of their two properties when their brother,  Cameron, is found dead there. They have to come together to support Cameron's family and his ranch. As is often the case with thrillers, there are family secrets to protect, plus the mystery of Cameron's sudden death. Ken is enjoying it so far!

Our 26-year-old son has returned to a favorite series, The Summoner trilogy by Taran Matharu. He started by re-reading book 1, The Novice. According to the blurb, "Fletcher is working as a blacksmith’s apprentice when he discovers he has the rare ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must travel with his demon, Ignatius, to an academy for adepts, where the gifted are taught the art of summoning."  When he finished that, he moved onto book 2, The Inquisition, and quickly finished that one, too! He has a summer job doing environmental sampling, but he was thrilled to learn he could read during the waiting periods that dot his days! I'm not sure what's he's reading now, but he and his girlfriend will be visiting next weekend for my birthday, so I'll have a chance to talk books with him.


Last week's blog posts:


Movie Monday: A Quiet Place II - a great follow-up to that stunning first movie ... and our first time back in a theater!


My Summary of Books Read in June - a great reading month!

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?

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Books Read in June


June was another great reading month for me. Low in quantity but high in quality and plenty of Big Books. You can watch my June Reading Wrap-Up video on YouTube, to hear more about each of the books I read and what I liked. Here's what I finished last month:

End of Watch by Stephen King (OH) - adult fiction

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson (NY, DC, IL) - NF memoir


The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Julia Grames (Italy, CT) - adult fiction on audio

The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray (NY, Czech Republic, Austria) - adult fiction



All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor (NY) - Teen/YA fiction on audio


So, that's just five books total read in June, but four of them were over 400 pages so counted for my annual #BigBookSummer Challenge! I read three books in print and listened to two on audio. Four of my books were fiction, with a single memoir for nonfiction. And most of what I read last month were for adults, with just a single teen/YA novel on audio. That one, All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor, was my favorite of the month, for its original plot, unique approach to telling a story, and awesome full-cast audio production. You can read any of my reviews (and listen to audio samples) at the links.

Progress in 2021 Reading Challenges:
You can see all of the reading challenges I am participating in and full lists of the books read for each at the challenges link above. I have some fun ones going this year!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2021 - Just two of my five books in June were from my own shelves (because I don't count audios) ... but they were Big Books!
2021 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge - June was The Great Outdoors, and The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Julia Grames included lovely descriptions of the countryside and gardens of rural Italy.
Back to the Classics 2021 - No classics in June.

2021 AtoZ Reading Challenge - It's getting tougher, but I filled in E and L last month.

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2021 - this is a unique one, with 50 quirky categories. My list is getting pretty full now, but I added another 3 categories to my list this month. That brings me up to 25, so I'm halfway there!
    1. Book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover:  I figured End of Watch by Stephen King counts for gruesomeness!
    2. Book from your TBR list you meant to read last year: The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray
    3. Book from your TBR list chosen at random: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor (a lucky pick!)
2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge - I added one more nonfiction book, The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson.
Diversity Reading Challenge 2021 - Just two of my books were diverse last month, and I counted The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Julia Grames for the mini challenge theme for June, LGBT+, though it was only a minor character.
Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge - I traveled to the Italy, Czech Republic, and Austria last month in my books.
2021 Literary Escapes Challenge - I added no new states (as usual, too many books set in NY!).

And finally, Bookish Bingo hosted by Chapter Break - not really a challenge per se, but a fun game that I play each month! Stop by to print out this month's Bingo card and play along. In June, I filled 19 spaces on my bingo card:



Spaces Filled: 

End of Watch: set in current times, shelf love, in a series, dangerous character

Mighty Queens of Freeville: library book, book club read, set in a small town, dress on the cover

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: audio book, bride, free book

The Lost Time Accidents: read a physical book, meant to read for a while now, not in a series

All of This Is True: sports, set in a school, secrets, YA

Free Space

What was YOUR favorite book read in June?

Monday, July 12, 2021

Movie Monday: A Quiet Place Part II

We celebrated a BIG event last Thursday: we went to see a movie IN A THEATER! Yes! It felt like an extraordinary, thrilling experience. And we chose a great movie to welcome us back to the theater: A Quiet Place Part II, which is perfect for the big screen. First, if you have not yet seen the first movie, A Quiet Place, check out my review at the link. It is a wholly original, genre-busting movie that defies categorization and is outstanding by any measure (and probably not what you think). Here's a quick review, with no spoilers (even if you haven't seen the first movie yet), of the sequel:

A Quiet Place Part II picks up right where the first movie ended, literally moments later, though first, it takes a look back at how all of this began. It starts with Day 1, the day when normal life suddenly shifted to this strange, terrifying, necessarily-silent world. John Krasinski is the dad; his wife, Emily Blunt, is the mom; and they are at their son's (Marcus, played by Noah Jupe) baseball game. It's a typical small-town Saturday scene, with dad bringing oranges for the players and mom encouraging her son through his case of nerves when he's up at bat. Big sister Regan, played by Millicent Simmonds, is deaf and is in the stands, watching her older brother and helping to keep an eye on her younger brother. A local friend, Emmett (played by Cillian Murphy) is sitting next to them, cheering on his own son and joking with Regan and her dad. Then, the world as they know it comes to an abrupt halt, as some sort of fireball falls from the sky and lands nearby. Hysteria ensues, followed quickly by terror, as the townspeople catch the first sight of the gruesome alien creatures. Then, the story jumps to the moments after the first movie ended. The family must leave their home, which has become their safe haven over the past year-plus. That pregnant belly mom was sporting in the first movie is now a young baby, adding to the family's danger, though they have taken extraordinary steps to keep the baby quiet. As in the first movie, it is essential to stay completely silent because these aliens hunt by sound, but they must leave and go in search of a new place to live. They leave with just a pack or two each, carrying the baby in a sound-proofed "cradle" between them, looking for safety. They eventually find Emmett, far from town, though he's not eager to add this potentially noisy group to his own safe place. Danger, excitement, and a quest for a better life ensue.

This sequel was excellent, though a little bit more in the sci fi horror category. The focus is still very much on the family dynamics and their love for each other, but this movie had far more scenes with the aliens and far more jump-scares! At one point I jumped so hard, I hit my elbow against the armrest. The quiet is still an essential feature here, though it is not as quiet a movie as that ground-breaking first one, but the sound design is still very creative and unique here. It still feels dangerous to munch on your popcorn during the quiet scenes! Millicent Simmonds as Regan is still absolutely outstanding in her role, and she has an even larger role in this movie, though Noah Jupe, playing her brother, gets a bigger role here, too, and is excellent. It's a wholly unique story, produced and filmed in an original way, showcasing a family's love for each other in the midst of a terrifying post-apocalyptic situation.

A Quiet Place II is currently available only in theaters, but it will soon be coming to streaming services, Redbox, etc.

It's Monday 7/12! What Are You Reading?


We had another HOT week here in the Mid-Atlantic. When it's 90's and high humidity, I just can't tolerate much time outdoors ... and I love being outdoors! Besides, the weeds in the gardens are winning the battle. And how come the deer and rabbits are eating all the new flowers we planted in May but they don't touch all the weeds out there? Discerning palettes, I guess. We did have one nice day, Saturday, when I was able to get out and do a little more weeding and mulching. We also enjoyed some time at a local park with my father-in-law, which is always nice. 

The big events of my week, though, were actual social activities ... out in public! For the first time since early March 2020, my husband and I went to a movie theater! It felt like a thrilling, stunning event for us, even though it was just us and one other couple in the theater. We went to a 5 pm matinee of A Quiet Place II, which was just as good as the first one. I'm so glad that John Krasinsky held it back until theaters were open again because this is a movie that is made for the big screen. It's also the only set of movies where eating popcorn feels like a very frightening thing to do! For the record, I don't normally enjoy or watch horror movies, but these two movies are in a genre all their own--moving family dramas with elements of sci fi thriller.

We were VERY excited to be in a theater again!

And, on Saturday night, we ate OUT in a restaurant with friends! Again, an amazing experience. We hugged! We thoroughly enjoyed seeing each other again and the experience of being in a restaurant (we ate out after the movie, too). We'd forgotten how much better food is served hot, directly from the kitchen, instead of riding in takeout containers for 20 minutes.

I posted my usual #FridayReads video on my YouTube channel last week, where I talk about (OK, gush about) the book and audiobook I was currently reading:


And here's what we've all been reading this past week:

I finished reading The Air You Breathe by Frances de Ponte Peebles, which is historical fiction. The story begins in 1930's Brazil, where two nine-year-old girls from very different backgrounds meet and become friends. Gracas is the "Little Miss" of the sugar plantation her family owns, and Dores is a kitchen servant, considered the lowest of the servants for her age and her status as an orphan. Spoiled Gracas insists on Dores becoming her playmate, and her mother acquiesces. The two become inseparable, and after Gracas' mother takes them to a concert and purchases a phonograph player, they both become obsessed with music and make a pretty good singing duo. As teens, they run away to Rio together and struggle to find a way to break into show business. The novel moves back and forth from the present, when Dores is an elderly woman, to the past, as the girls face one challenge after another together, though it is hard for them to ever shed their original roles. I loved this novel! It’s a warm, moving story encompassing both pain and joy as the girls, then women, chase their dreams. History, race, and class are a part of the story, and music is at the center of it. 

 

Now, I am reading my 7th #BigBookSummer book, Blackout by Connie Willis, a favorite of mine and my husband's. Willis has a loose series of time travel books, and if you've read my blog, you know I love time travel plots! We both enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog, a sort of time travel farce, and last summer for Big Book Summer 2020, we both read Doomsday Book and were blown away by it--it was a favorite for both of us. Blackout takes place about four years after that last novel. All of this series are about a group of historians in near-future Oxford who use technology to travel to different time periods. Their role is to observe and learn more about history, not to change anything. In this novel, several historians are traveling back and forth to various places and times during World War II (Dunkirk, Pearl Harbor, rural England where children were evacuated to, London during the Blitz). This time, though, things begin to go wrong with their time travel technology and mistakes start to occur. I have only just begun this book, but I am already fully immersed in that world and loving it!

 

I am also listening to a Big Book on audio, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. It is a complex narrative at first, but I am well into it now and enjoying it. It's narrated by twelve-year-old Eli Bell, who lives in Australia. His mother and step-father are heroin dealers, his older brother, Gus, is mute, and his best friend is an elderly, notorious felon named Slim who is know for his multiple prison escapes. So, yeah, it's a little weird (what is it with me and weird books this summer?), but it's interesting and engaging. As you might guess from that set-up, Eli doesn't have an easy life, and things are about to get a whole lot worse for him and Gus. But Eli is clever and determined and has learned a lot from his buddy, Slim. This is a unique novel, and I'm really enjoying it so far.

 

My husband, Ken, just finished a Father's Day gift, his second Big Book of the summer, Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Weir was the author of the best-selling novel, The Martian, (made into an excellent movie starring Matt Damon) and Artemis, which took place on the moon. This latest novel from Weir is being hailed as just even better than The Martian. Ryland Grace wakes up from a very long sleep to find himself on a ship, hurtling through space, with two dead crewmates, and no memory at all. As his memory slowly returns, he realizes that he is the sole survivor of a critical mission whose purpose is nothing less than saving mankind and the earth. The clock is ticking, and Ryland is all alone. It sounds like a great premise and reviews have been outstanding. Ken really enjoyed it, and I can't wait to read it, too!

Our 26-year-old son has returned to a favorite series, The Summoner trilogy by Taran Matharu, starting by re-reading book 1, The Novice, so that he can move onto book 2. According to the blurb, "Fletcher is working as a blacksmith’s apprentice when he discovers he has the rare ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must travel with his demon, Ignatius, to an academy for adepts, where the gifted are taught the art of summoning."   He's enjoying it so far--he always enjoys diving back into a favorite series and re-reading novels he enjoyed. He has a summer job doing environmental sampling, but he was thrilled to learn he could read during the waiting periods that dot his days!

 

Last week's blog posts:

TV Tuesday: Summer 2021 Shows - what we're watching - there's something here for everyone!

Teen/YA Review: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Penaflor - unique plot & compelling story, well-written with an outstanding audio production!

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?

Friday, July 09, 2021

Teen/YA Review: All of This Is True

Searching my huge backlog for a Big Book audio last month, I was looking for something lighter and fast-paced, so I chose All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor, a YA suspense novel. It was a great choice! I really enjoyed this unique and compelling novel.

 

A group of teens at a private school on Long Island are obsessed with the author Fatima Ro and her first book, Undertow. They go totally fan-girl (and -boy) when they get to meet the author (who is in her early 20's) at a local book signing. She asks them to a coffee shop afterward, and they soon find themselves actually becoming friends with the author—a dream come true! Miri is the group leader and definitely the head of this fan club. In fact, she starts a clandestine club at school to bring more kids into the fold of living by Fatima’s “share your precious truths” credo. Soleil wants to be a writer, so she is especially enamored of Fatima and her “adult” lifestyle as a successful writer. Penny is seen as the party girl airhead by her classmates, but she feels like Fatima sees the real her. And Jonah is a new transfer student who loves Undertow as much as the girls do but is hiding a dark secret. The group is living their dream, until … Fatima publishes a new novel, which is clearly based on the lives (barely concealed) of her new "friends." Their names are barely changed, details of their private lives and conversations are spilled, and Jonah’s secret is made public. The media is saying she used these teens, but some of them still believe she is really their friend and had their best interests at heart. This whole story is told after the fact--after the novel is published and some sort of event lands Jonah in the hospital--through interviews, journal entries, e-mails and texts, and even excerpts from the fictional novel itself.

 

All of This Is True features a unique and compelling plot that feels like it could really happen in our current world of celebrity authors and teen fandom. But the way the story is told is what really makes this novel special. I loved the approach of looking back on what happened through different sources and slowly piecing the story together. The audio is also outstanding, recorded with a full cast of 15 narrators (listen to a sample below to see what I mean). The combination of “primary sources” and the real-sounding audio made the listening experience completely immersive. I actually figured out the book’s big twist very early on, but that didn’t matter because the story was just so well told. I was engrossed in the story from beginning to end.

 

432 pages, Harper Teen

 

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

 

Visit my YouTube Channel for more bookish fun!

 

Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, featuring a full-cast audio production, and/or download it from Audible. The sample is from the beginning of the book, as Miri describes to an interviewer why Undertow is such a special book. Listen, and you'll be hooked!

 

You can buy the book through Bookshop.org, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!

    
  

Or you can order All of This Is True from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


Tuesday, July 06, 2021

TV Tuesday: Summer Shows 2021


Summer used to be a dead time for TV, with nothing on but reruns while we waited for the new fall TV season. Things have changed, though, and with all the competing streaming services, cable channels, and even the stodgy old networks bringing out new seasons and new shows at all times of the year, there is plenty to watch in the dog days of summer. My husband and I are enjoying a bunch of new seasons from some old favorite TV series, some new-to-us shows, and are looking forward to trying some new shows later this summer, too. (Links below go to my reviews--including trailers--where available.)

Returning Favorites

The good news? Our all-time favorite show is back for some extra end-of-season episodes. The bad news? These will be the last episodes ever. Good Girls, a hilarious, moving, thrilling series on NBC about three moms who get pulled into a life of crime, is back for an extra four episodes, but the powers that be have decided that this fourth season will be its last. This show is so well-done, starring Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman as the title moms and Manny Montana as the hot but dangerous crime boss. We just watched the second-to-last episode last night and can't even begin to imagine how they'll wrap it up when the last episode airs on July 8. 

Another favorite of ours is back for its third season. In the Dark on CW (earlier seasons on Netflix) is another story of regular people getting pulled into hard crime, but in this case, it's a blind woman named Murphy, her best friend, Jess, who's a veterinarian, and their co-worker, Felix. In the first episode, Murphy "witnesses" the murder of a good friend, a teen boy killed by drug dealers. Even though Murphy is blind, she knows enough to help the police and is determined to help bring her friend's killers to justice. But, this is a twisty tale, and between criminals, good cops, crooked cops, and deals gone wrong, the three young people, who all work at Murphy's parents' guide dog charity, soon find themselves into the criminal world way too deep. It's an excellent show, a dark thriller but with a great sense of humor, and we are excited to hear it will be back for a fourth season in 2022.

I finally finished reading the last book in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy by Stephen King (including Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch), so now we can finish watching seasons two and three of the Mr. Mercedes TV show on Peacock. Luckily, someone warned me that the TV show swaps things around, with season two covering book three and season three tackling book two, so I knew to finish the whole trilogy before going past season one. I have made the mistake of starting season two of the show immediately after finishing End of Watch, so I am a little annoyed by all the changes they made: killing off beloved characters, adding entirely new characters, shifting the plot, and even changing the seasonal setting. But, all that said, it is still an excellent TV series and very well-done, a detective/thriller show with some paranormal elements. If Stephen King can accept all these changes to his books, I guess I can, too.

Another show we enjoy based on a book series is Bosch on Amazon Prime, adapted from the huge series of books by Michael Connelly about Detective Harry Bosch. We both love Connelly's novels and the Bosch character, and the TV series is an outstanding adaptation. Each season is generally adapted from a single novel, and the cast is excellent, headed up by Tutus Welliver as Bosch and Jamie Hector as his partner, Jerry Edgar. Lance Reddick co-stars as the Chief of Police. This is a classic police procedural, set in L.A., but of the highest quality. We were very sorry to hear this seventh season is its last, but word is that a spin-off is coming ... hopefully based on Connelly's newest character, Detective Rene Ballard.

For All Mankind is an entirely different kind of show on Apple TV. No crime or thrillers here. It is an alternate history of the U.S. space program, in a world where the Soviets first beat us to the moon in 1969 and then quickly sent the first woman to the moon, completely changing the U.S.'s own progression in the space race. In this world, which includes some real-life members of NASA and historical news excerpts, as well as some fictional characters, the race to the moon is accelerated by the Soviet's accomplishments, women become an integral part of the space program early on, and a base is established on the moon to keep the Soviets (who have their own base) from taking over. We are now watching season two, which takes place in the 80's, after the U.S. moon base has grown tremendously and lithium has been discovered on the moon. Can you imagine the implications? The show is outstanding, suspenseful and thoughtful, with excellent cast and writing. It's a fascinating look at an alternate history and science progression but also a drama about the lives of the astronauts, their families, and the other employees of NASA. Highly recommended.

Also on Apple TV, another favorite of ours has also returned for a second season: Home Before Dark (not to be confused with In the Dark, above). This is a typical mystery/crime show ... except that the detective is a nine-year-old girl! Hilde's family recently moved from Brooklyn to a tiny Northwest coastal town where her dad grew up. Hilde wants to be a journalist, just like her father, and already writes and publishes her own local paper. In season one, she somehow managed to solve a decades-old cold case involving a missing child who was one of her dad's best friends. In season two, she is investigating an environmental mystery. This is one of our favorite shows--it is smart and funny and totally engrossing, and we can't wait for each new episode to be released on Fridays.

To lighten things up from all these mysteries and thrillers, we are enjoying the newly released season five of The Good Fight, a spin-off of The Good Wife. Starring Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald, the show features a Chicago law firm that can't decide if it wants to be an all-Black firm or an all-woman firm (that's a big source of tension in this latest season). It is ripped-from-the-headlines , with this season set right now, past the worst of the pandemic and in the current political climate. There are legal cases in every episode and political references, but also a great sense of humor. Like I said, it;s a fun counter to some of the darker thrillers we watch.

 

 

New Shows We Might Try

There are several new shows slotted to start in August that we plan to try.

A reboot of Fantasy Island is set to premier on Fox on August 10. I heard about this show because I listen to a podcast, Happier in Hollywood, hosted by the two TV writers and show runners involved in the project, Liz Craft and Sarah Fain. After listening to how much fun they had filming the show in Puerto Rico this spring, I decided to give it a try. The trailer looks enticing:


And there's a new Sandra Oh TV series, The Chair, coming to Netflix on August 20! We loved her in Grey's Anatomy and on Killing Eve. Here, she stars as the Chair of a university English department. The trailer doesn't tell you much, though it hints at a good sense of humor ... and it's Sandra Oh! Definitely worth trying:

 

Coming to Hulu on August 31 is a new series, Only Murders in the Building, about three neighbors who investigate a murder in their apartment building. Get this: the three lead actors are Steve Martin (who created the show), Selena Gomez, and Martin Short! And I caught a glimpse of Nathan Lane in the trailer, too. Talk about comedy royalty! I can't wait to try this one:

 

How about you? What are you watching this summer? Any new shows coming that you want to see? We're always open to new suggestions!