July: Books Plus

I don’t even know what to say about this month, but I will say that I consumed some great media and that all the little joys are feeling especially victorious.
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My Reads

As our daughter says, Sophie Mouse is the best because I love Sophie Mouse. Ha. Really, though, these books are so stinking cute and I’m happily reading them over and over again to her, but also for me.
➕  Jason Reynolds’ Sunny
Like the rest of the series, such strong characterization and voice.  Reynolds is a master of humor and heart and picking just the right track metaphor for the main character’s life (this time, discus throwing).
➕  Kelly Starling Lyons’ Jada Jones: Sleepover Scientist
I like the character of Jada a lot, but the friendship that I hoped would grow from the first book was a lot of the same in this third one of her having to worry about her love of science around them so, for now, we’ll be pausing on these.
➕ Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
My favorite classic.  Compulsively readable and beautifully thought-provoking. “We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”

➕ Renee Watson’s Some Places More Than Others

Some authors just feel kindred and, so far, Watson is one for me. A wonderful story about a girl discovering her family’s past and the strength and beauty of being Black. I’ll be continuing working my way through her backlist.
➕  Varian Johnson’s The Parker Inheritance
Love a mystery, love a fish out of water story, loved this wonderful middle grade that wove together the late 1950s, just after desegregation, with a modern storyline. Think The Westing Game, but with substance. Definitely the younger sibling to The Vanishing Half.
➕ Madhur Jaffrey’s Climbing the Mango Trees
Thank you to Padma (Lakshmi, we’re on a first name basis) for inspiring me to pick this one up.  It’s so incredibly absorbing and evocative and I know it’s going to stick with me for a long time.  Food and travel memoir lovers, if you haven’t already, pick this one up. It might be one of my favorite reads of the year.
➕  Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Luck
I probably did this one a disservice reading it so close to Love & Gelato. The setting of Ireland was wonderful, but this one very much paled in comparison for me.
➕  Suzanne Collins’ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Since a couple of readers whose taste usually aligns with mine felt meh about this one, I had the advantage of lowered expectations and ended up quite liking this Hunger Games prequel. Need characters to root for? Not for you. Interested in backstories and diving deeper into Panem? For you.
➕  Kwame Onwauchi’s and Joshua David Stein’s Notes from a Young Black Chef
A strong edition to the food memoir canon, although personally I wanted a little more of everything.

➕  Britt Bennett’s The Vanishing Half

I mean, wow.  So deserving to be the “it” book of the year and ought to become a future classic.  Bennett is so, so talented. And was born in 1990.

New To Us Toddler Reads

➕ Kaya Doi’s Chirri & Chirra books
Our daughter is obsessed with these and pores over them constantly.  They are stories translated from Japanese and follow two little girls on their fantastical adventures on their bicycles.  There has been lots of imagining inspired by these and I love the whimsical, vintage feeling illustrations.
➕ Matt Lamothe’s This Is How We Do It
This book explores the lives of seven children in different countries around the world- what they wear to school, eat for their meals, how they help around the house, etc.  The illustrations are exquisite and I appreciate the opportunity for thought-provoking conversations that this can spark for every age.
➕ Julie Fogliano and Christian Robinson’s When’s My Birthday?
With a great rhythm and charming illustrations, this is a good one for any kid who is very excited about birthdays.
➕ Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s and Tom Lichtenheld’s Duck! Rabbit!
An amusing story that so perfectly illustrates (pun intended) how we all see the world differently.
➕ Sophie Blackall’s If You Come To Earth
So thankful to Chronicle for our copy! I’ll be reviewing this one more soon, so I’ll just say that it was an immediate favorite!

Podcasts

The Baby-Sitters Club Club podcast TV show re-caps
This is a favorite podcast of ours that we’re still behind on, but we’ve been loving their re-caps of the Netflix TV show or, as they call them, “video books”.
➕ From the Front Porch’s “What Would Susie Read?”
Super cute hearing from Annie’s mom, plus her mom gave a shout-out to Betsy Tacy, so obviously she’s awesome.
Home Cooking is back!
I feel like I should say The Popcast every month, so I will this month. Lots of laughing and unexpected insights thanks to Knox and Jamie.

Music

➕ Leslie Odom Jr.’s  “Wait For It”
Is this the best song in Hamilton? Please debate.
➕ Francis and the Lights feat. Common’s “May I Have This Dance?”
Begging to be in an excellent movie scene.

TV and Movies

➕ The Baby-Sitters Club
I have never read these books, but my husband and I are huge fans of the hilarious Babysitters Club Club podcast (listen to it already) and knew we had to watch this series.  We watched it in two days and then I immediately wanted to watch it again.  The casting of actually young actresses who embody the characters so well is very refreshing.  And we’re all obsessed with how cool Claudia is, right? Her outfits ranked here and need to watch this next.
➕ Hamilton
Let me be the first to observe: HOW ARE THIS MANY PEOPLE SO WILDLY TALENTED?
➕ Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2
In awe getting an inkling of all the parts that went into making Frozen 2 and, again, how talented people are.  This series was fascinating.
➕ Feel the Beat
Randomly turned this movie on when I was sick and it made me cry? That probably says more about my mental state then, but I thought this was cute in a cheesy 90s and 00s movies way.
➕ Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Even with my soft spot for Will (anyone else?), I was very worried this was going to be another Daddy’s Home, which is a trainwreck of a movie that somehow got a sequel, butttt it was amusing if you’re looking for something with this type of humor.

➕ Top Chef season 13

Born out of my new Padma passion and coupled with us having read Kwame Onwauchi’s book, we decided to watch this. I forgot how good Top Chef is.
➕ Star Wars marathoning
I am re-filled with rage for the casting of Hayden Christensen and creation of Jar Jar Binks (and the time I am spending trying to figure out why both of these things happened and what’s been happening since). I don’t know if I’ve ever been more uncomfortable than during the romantic scenes in Attack of the Clones and did you know that Lucas apparently originally had Michael Jackson in mind for Jar Jar?!!  I have so many questions and concerns.  I digress. It’s been really fun immersing ourselves into the full story and seeing how it all unfolds as a narrative, rather than in order of how they were filmed, plus they’re just so fun. Is there anything more iconic feeling than that burst of music with the logo followed by the opening crawl? We’re on The Empire Strikes Back right now.

What’s Not Working For Me

(This section is officially for nonsense only.)
➕ The Jane Austen Society
I almost never DNF books because I tend to have a good idea of what I’ll like and/or immediately realize a book is not for me.  I started this one when I was sick and then just had no desire to keep reading because it felt so off.
➕ Bugs
I know you’re doing something important. Or whatever.  But I’d like to walk without windmilling my hands on repeat.  I’d like to not have one of you fly UP MY NOSE and then FIND YOU IN MY MOUTH. Thank you for your cooperation.
➕ Days of the week
So disconcerting.

Working For Me

➕ Re-thinking, reflecting.
This article about the whitewashing of recipes. John Lewis’s last essay. The capitalization of Black.

➕ This royal wedding picture.

It’s straight out of a classic Disney movie, right?
➕ Breakfast for dinner.
Obviously not a novel idea, but it’s been bringing us joy.  We love Smitten Kitchen’s liege waffles and the New York Times buttermilk pancakes.
➕ Planning for our little girl’s birthday.
I love planning celebrations and our daughter  is so excited for her birthday. Her favorite color is yellow, so we’re going to go with a whole lot of yellow and we’ve been squirreling away gifts for a long time. By a long time, I mean we bought this wooden ice cream set when it was on sale when she was not even 6 months.  Her other gifts that I’m very excited about in case you’re looking for things for a little one in your life: this adorable garden set, this play food baking set, a couple of Disney Golden books, and this fort.
➕ Finally clearing out space in our basement.
You may have heard me reference this before.  This month we finally moved something down there that was taking up a lot of space (bodies), so, while nothing remotely fancy, it’s starting to turn more into a fun area for our daughter to run around and play.
These words that perfectly say what I’m feeling this month.
And this illustration bringing some comfort.

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