Oh, August! The month where my lawn turns scorched-sun yellow and the humidity poofs out my hair like Monica on Friends in the episode where the gang goes to Barbados. How I (don’t) love thee! Mosquitoes leave giant red dots on my arms and the late summer heat drags at my heels, making me never want to go outside.
All of this means it’s really important to find decent in-door activities in August (like reading). Unfortunately, I didn’t figure that out until week three! And instead spent many a sweat-filled day outside.
A Buggy and Bloggy August
But, first, craving air-conditioning is the perfect excuse to stay inside and write some blogs. Here is a quick recap of my blogs for August.
- July Wrap-Up: Travel + Bookstores, What Could be Better?
- An Introvert and an Extrovert Walk into a Writing Conference…
- Why Are Men So Terrible at Writing Female Characters?
- Writing Tricks and Tools—My Love/Hate & Obsessive Relationship With Editing
- What Was I Thinking? Amusing Ramblings From My Insomniac Writer Brain
- In Honor of Goodreads’ SciFi & Fantasy Week: Top 5 SciFi/Fantasy Titles I Want to Read ASAP!
- Fairy Tales Are Dangerous…It’s Time to Rewrite Them
- Comic Con-undrum: The Anxiety-Filled Dilemma of Costume or No Costume & Other Events at My First Ever Comic Con
Comical Fun Despite the Heat
My Husband Becomes a Street Performer in NYC (Temporarily)
Although we go back to our old hometown of NYC quite often, this time my family and I got a special treat. My husband, Neal, lived out his own personal nightmare: being picked to take part in a street show. (My husband does not like attention.)
Unfortunately for him, he looked like a good “blue-collar guy,” which is what Tic (or Tac) called him when the NYC performer dragged Neal into the center of their make-shift arena in Washington Square Park. My husband was to serve as a prop for the acrobatic street performers.
Neal would normally never stop for a street performance in NYC. But, Tic and Tac are an NYC institution. My husband said he used to see them when they were still teenagers, back when he lived in the Village. (For the record, even if you wouldn’t normally stop for street performers in NYC, stop for these guys. They’re funny, adorable and very entertaining.)
Despite the heat and a man standing behind him with zero understanding of personal space, Neal endured his nightmare and admitted it was not that bad. I know I found it comical!
Other Random Activities I Found WAY Too Fun to Be Normal
- Checked out a Vietnamese Festival
- Got REALLY excited about finding a pink Christmas Tree (Pink-mas here I come!)
- Watched my daughter read her poetry at Poetry Night at a local bookstore
And, of course, there was Fairfax Comic Con
If this August had a theme for me, it would be comics. I went to my first ever Comic Con, watched some book movies and learned the true meaning of comic book obsession (more on that later.)
However, attending the first-ever Fairfax Comic Con was a highlight of the month, which I’ve already blogged about (see blog summary above or link.) But, if you want the short version, here it is in pictures.
For a Limited Time – Movies & TV
Per usual, I don’t watch a lot of movies or TV. And given my affinity for heavier subjects in books, I prefer something a little bit lighter when I reach for a screen. (Although I don’t always succeed…cough…Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu…cough). This month I tried to keep my electronic entertainment options on the lighter side, which meant the following.
Movie: Avengers: Infinity War
Continuing with my comic-themed month, I was apparently the last person on earth to actually see Avengers: Infinity War. Therefore, the ending had been sufficiently spoiled already by about a hundred people and the internet. Perhaps that’s why I felt it was only OK. Nothing great. Or maybe I’m simply getting tired of the Marvel Universe in film form?
My official rating: Meh
Movie: Ocean’s 8
I happen to very much enjoy Sandra Bullock. And numerous other talented actresses fill out the cast of this heist film. My biggest complaint, which is typical for a film like this, I wanted more of those other side characters. They’re usually the most interesting part. Still, this was a decent contribution to the Ocean’s [insert number] franchise.
My official rating: Cute. Worth a rental.
TV: Buffy Season 7
For a quick recap, this was the TV show’s final season where Buffy battles The First and well…I won’t say any more. Although, the story keeps going in comic book form! (My daughter sleuthed this out. I had no idea.) The comic series takes the show through several more seasons, which spoiler: Xander’s kind of hot now?
My official rating of Buffy Season 7 (not the comic): Originally one of my least favorite Buffy seasons, it’s surprisingly better the second time around! (But I’m still not ‘shippin Wennedy. Tara + Willow forever!!!)
TV: Dance Shows
Since my daughter is a dancer, watching So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) and World of Dance are pre-requisites to be part of our family. Even the dog watches with us and knows not to bark too much at the high-pitched noises (mostly).
My official ratings:
- SYTYCD: Loved it until that whole Slavic debacle. Jay Jay and Darius, you were robbed!!!!
- World of Dance: My entire family wants to kidnap Derek Hough and make him our best friend. Plus, I’m really enjoying this season. I might like it more than SYTYCD….
And Finally…The Books That Kept Me Cool
Here are the 7 books I read in the month of August. Not my best showing, but some of these I found as sluggish as the month of August.
Book 1: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Brief Review: A humorous and quirky book, which should have been made for me, about an alternate reality where literary detectives go into books to save the characters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get past the one-note main character of Thursday Next. (Although, admittedly the names in this book are very clever.) People who enjoy weird alternative realities and satire will likely enjoy this story (provided you don’t share my desire for authentic female characters.)
Book 2: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
Brief Review: Finally! A fairy tale I can appreciate. Bardugo’s new and re-imagined tales buck the mores their predecessors. Across the stories, Bardugo punishes the traditional characters and revels in the ones who dare to be different. Surprising, unique and well written, I would highly recommend this book of short stories, especially the unusual take on The Nutcracker and the story about a mermaid. It won’t go as you think…
Book 3: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Brief Review: For any writer who thinks people won’t just pluck books off the shelf at random, you’d be wrong. That’s what I did. I chose the tome because I wanted to read outside my typical genres, which are usually YA and fantasy. And this historical fiction female detective novel was far outside my reading box. The story begins with Dobbs setting up her detective office and sucks her straight into a mystery. Then it swings the reader back to her time as a nurse during WWI, tying the past and the past-present together in an action-filled and fulfilling conclusion. It was like eating a really delicious apple pie, spicy, sweet and full of gooey goodness. It felt very American. Although at times Dobbs’ character was almost too perfect (I wished for her to have a dark side or at least a slightly gray one), overall I enjoyed this take on a female Sherlock Holmes. There are several more books in this series and I do think I’ll read more!
Book 4: The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay
Brief Review: This book of poetry, filled with historical insights and heady concepts, requires thoughtful assessment. This isn’t a coffee table, read-in-one-day poetry book. Since Goodreads did a much better job of describing it than I ever will, here’s what their description says: “Taking its name from the moon’s dark plains, misidentified as seas by early astronomers, the black maria investigates African diasporic histories, the consequences of racism within American culture, and the question of human identity.” Although my favorite poem was inspired by Neil deGrasse Tyson, all of the poems are infused with intense and goosebump-producing emotion. I know this is one book I’ll read again and find a new, deeper appreciation each time.
Book 5: Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Brief Review: I enjoy these brief little books from Adichie. The first I read was We Should All Be Feminists. They’re like tiny explosions of feminist philosophy. This one is a version of a letter Adichie wrote a friend. The woman recently gave birth to a baby girl and asked Adichie for advice on how to raise a feminist. I wish I could go back in time to when I had my daughter and take this book with me. Instead, when I finished the book, I handed it straight to her to read. Every single sentence is insightful and quotable. This book, like her other works, serves as a reminder to all the women (and men) of the world who say “I’m not a feminist,” that a feminist is simply a person who believes in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. By that definition…we really all should be feminists.
Book 6: The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Keiron Gillen
Brief Review: It took 12 Gods resurrected as pop stars for me to understand the obsession with comic books. I’ve read graphic novels and loved them, but I’ve never craved reading comics. But now I get it. For the past week, I’ve obsessively downloaded The Wicked + the Divine, which I purchased on a whim originally, because I can’t wait until the comic book store opens in the morning. (I do feel bad about this as I want to give our local comic book store business. But it can’t be helped! I must know what happens!) Needless to say, I am a fan (pun intended for those who have read the series.) I have a newfound appreciation for the storytelling of comics. The concise and impactful way in which stories and characters are developed is remarkable. I recently heard author and poet Jacqueline Woodson speak about how much adult writers can learn about storytelling from children’s picture books. I’d argue, writers could learn just as much from comics.
Book 7: Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
Brief Review: Not realizing this was book 2 in a series, my daughter and I purchased Puddin’ mostly due to seeing everyone else reading it, like everywhere. Sometimes if everyone jumps off a cliff…as long as it’s metaphorical… Realizing this error a few pages in, I debated if I should stop reading and purchase the first book. I’m happy to say, I really don’t think it’s necessary. While I am interested in reading book #1 (Dumplin’), I did not feel it was a required predecessor. Given I am a huge sucker for a redemption story, the book had me at bad girl who trashes a gym. Still, everything about this book was as cute and lovable as the pink slippers the main character likes to wear. It made my heart go all soft and squishy while also tackling topics of body image in a positive and straightforward manner, which is rare. And the last sentence of the book, after all the acknowledgments, is like the secret at the end of a Marvel movie. If you own the book or buy it, don’t forget to turn to the last page and make sure to pull out a tissue.
And that’s it for August…phew! I’d love to know what others read and watched in August!