Entertainment

My Favorite Books from 2016

Hello there! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated, but work has been so crazy. I decided to decompress during the holidays and hermit myself up in my apartment. Furthermore, I ended the year with finishing 27 books. This is a combination of both books I read and listened to. I’ve broken it down below. Honestly, I think I enjoyed the audio books much more this year. Enjoy!

Books Collage2

Favorite Books Read

1. The Girl on the Train – I made sure to read it before the movie came out. A thriller that you can’t put down.

2. Paris Letters – True story of a girl who decides to leave her life in the US to live in Paris. Dreams!

3. The Girls – A story about a girl who spends a summer with a Charles Manson-like cult. It was a surprisingly easy read.

4. The Kitchen House – A heartbreaking historical fiction novel about a plantation and how it changes over the years. I brought it on vacation, though I don’t recommend it as a beach read!

5. The Art of Fielding – This thick novel was chosen by my book club about a college baseball team. While it had a slow start, I found myself not able to put it down over the holidays.

Additional Reads: Everything is Illuminated, The Widow, Same Kind of Different As Me, The Nest, I Knew You’d Be Lovely, Eleanor & Park, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding

Favorite Audio Books

1. Troublemaker – I never thought I’d want to listen to Leah Remini’s book, but it had good reviews, so I gave it a chance. Her stories about her time as a Scientologist were fascinating. I have so much more respect for her now.

2. You’ll Grow Out of It – Jessi Klein’s essays are hilarious and relate-able. I found myself constantly laughing and smiling. It’s nice to know that someone else has the same disdain for bridal stores.

3. Scrappy Little Nobody – Though Anna Kendrick is still young, she’s gone through so much in a small time. I love hearing behind the scenes Hollywood stories, so I enjoyed hearing her point of view about being nominated for an Oscar for the first time.

4. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer’s essays were both hilarious and heartbreaking. I was itching for this one to come out and it was definitely worth the wait.

5. Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling dishes on her life and dating. What more can you ask for? I especially loved her story about snagging a date with the president’s assistant.

6. Wildflower – Again, I love hearing Hollywood stories, so Drew Barrymore’s book was truly a gift. Her take on growing up in the spotlight is something not to be missed.

7. Watch Me – Once again, love Hollywood stories, especially old Hollywood. Anjelica Huston’s memoir which centers on her relationship with Jack Nicholson was super juicy.

Additional Listens: The Happiness of Pursuit, The Year of Yes, Heads in Beds, Breath Becomes Air, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, Girlboss, Rich Bitch, Dear Mr. You.

Podcasts I’m Currently Listening To

A few years ago, I thought podcasts were only meant for nerdy men. The IT guy at my college job would walk around with his iPod headphones in saying he was listening to them. I actually have the podcast app in my phone in the “Random Apps” folder. Now, it’s like every celebrity and personality has a podcast. I decided to give them a try after my current audio book was a bust. Luckily, podcasts are no longer just for IT guys, there are so many different programs to appeal to different demographics. Plus, they are free! Here’s a snapshot of what I’m currently listening to:

podcasts collage

Modern Love – I was obsessed with NY Time’s Modern Love column when I was in college. I even read the book! Now, they have a weekly podcast where different personalities read the essays. Then, they have the writers of the essays on to discuss what has happened since they first published. Many of the essays are emotional or though provoking; I’ve found myself almost in tears a few times. I also like how the episodes are all around 20 mins, perfect for my morning commute.

Ladies Who Lunch – I never was much of an Ingrid Nilsen fan, but I’m loving her new podcast. Her and friend Cat Valdes discuss topics such as sex, relationships, social problems, and politics. It’s extremely insightful and smart. I personally enjoy hearing from a feminist perspective and Ingrid keeps it light and fun!

#Girlboss Radio – If you are a fan of Sophia Amoruso’s book #Girlboss, then you will love this podcast. Each episode, Sophia brings in other girlbosses to hear their advice and lessons they’ve learned along the way. I love hearing about how successful women got to where they are today. My only critique is that she has a friend she brings in for the first half of the episode — just skip past that part!

How Did This Get Made? – Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael watch bad movies and comment on it in this podcast. The sad thing is that they have episodes on movies I loved as a child: Kazaam, Spice World, TMNT2: Secret of the Ooze, Crossroads, Teen Witch. I guess that’s what makes it so fun, hearing these comedians break down these ridiculously bad movies. It’s definitely worth it for a few good laughs during your commute!

Uninterrupted – Women’s Health was sick of people telling them they shouldn’t be involved in women’s social issues — so they created their own podcast about it. Caitlin Abber brings in various guests each week to discuss issues that matter most to women. I enjoy how it’s not just a big celebrity each week and I always end up learning something new!

Ctrl Alt Delete – Blogger Emma Gannon brings in guests each week to discuss the internet and how social media has changed our lives. I just love Emma’s personality and insight. Plus, some of her first guests included Elizabeth Gilbert, Rowan Blanchard, and Cheryl Strayed which is an awesome line-up.

PS — if you are clueless about podcasts like I was, just open the podcast app on your iPhone and start browsing. You can subscribe, listen, and download episodes right away. I recommend waiting until you are on wifi to download, so it doesn’t eat your data!

 

Try Something New: Watch More TV

Last year, one of my goals was to read more books (I read 24!). This year, I’m sick of being out of the loop on all these TV shows, so I’ve made it my mission to watch more TV. Here’s how I’m faring so far:

TV Shows

1. Game of Thrones – I watched season 1, I really tried, but I honestly didn’t understand half of what is going on. Medieval type shows or movies aren’t for me. I kept having to look at the family tree because I forgot who was who. Luckily, this show is so ingrained in pop culture that I know all the upcoming spoilers. No need to continue :)

2. House of Cards – I actually did get into this one. I was surprised that I fared well with all the political speak. Though, I think it got a little dull after Zoe and Peter left. Where is the romance?! I decided to stop watching after season 2.

3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Overall I liked this show. It was a quick watch that I finished in about a week. There were some laugh out loud moments, like when Titus sang at a funeral. But, there were some weird moments, like when Kimmy got her first kiss and the whole court trial. I think I would give this one another season! It’s nice to watch something a little uplifting sometimes.

4. Downton Abbey – I was dreading this one, I hate period dramas. Luckily, the first season was only 7 episodes. I found myself intrigued by the Mary/Matthew love story, but overall I thought it moved a bit slow for me. Especially since it’s in a different time period, so not much happens relationship-wise between anyone. Also, some of the conflicts were a bit boring to me, like the kitchen servants fighting over stuff.

Kimmy SchmidtOverall, I think I’m faring pretty well getting through my list. TV shows are just so long, so I find it hard to be caught up on everything. Plus, I get bored by sitting in front on the TV for too long, so I can’t binge watch. Here’s some other shows on my radar:

Now I just need to figure out where I can stream all these!

 

Making Your Commute Better with Audiobooks

With all the different types of entertainment today, it’s really hard to make time to read. I’m always trying to stay up to date on all the latest TV show, movies, and entertainment news; reading always seems to take the back-burner. When I started my new job earlier this year, I decided to make the most of my 30 minute commute by trying out audiobooks.

IMG_0346Can’t wait to start listening to this one!

In 4 months, I’ve already been through 8 books! I didn’t realize how much time I spent in the car! I’ve found that I like books read by the authors best, especially ones that are celebrity memoirs. It’s always a good start to my day to hear a funny story or two. Listening to these books also make any long commutes to see friends or family more bearable.

Here’s two options I’ve discovered when it comes to audiobooks:

1. Audible – Amazon’s audiobook service and app. The books can be $20-30 each! If you sign up for a plan and pay monthly, it’s $14.95 each month. This gets you a credit for one book. If you choose to buy any additional books, there is a discounted rate. You can find basically any book you want and read reviews about it. Though, if you go through books quickly, it gets pricey.

2. Overdrive (through LA Public Library) – I was talking to someone about Audible recently and they were like “Why don’t you just use the library?” Who would’ve thought?! I signed up online, got an electronic library card, and downloaded the Overdrive app. Basically, you can browse the library catalog online and check out the audiobooks. It’s all free and your check outs will sync to the app on your phone. Though it’s cost efficient, I’ve found that it’s hit or miss with which audiobooks they carry. Also, you might have to wait a bit for a book to become available.

I’ve been utilizing a marriage of the two systems, which is working great! I’ve knocked out so many reads on my Amazon Wish List. Here’s a few books I’ve listened to that I recommend:

  • Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe – If you’re a film buff like me and love hearing about the movie industry, this book is for you! Rob reads it himself and it was amazing to hear him tell about his beginnings as an actor, his darkest times, and finding love. I’m excited to listen to his 2nd book soon as well!
  • Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson – I found myself laughing out loud constantly listening to Jenny’s stories. In the reviews, I read a few times people saying not to listen to this while driving because you’ll be laughing too hard! So true!
  • Still Foolin’ ‘Em by Billy Crystal – Another great comedic listen. Billy talks about his days starting in stand-up, transitioning to films, family life, and growning old. Some of his stories are read to a live audience. I believe this audiobook was nominated for a Grammy, so you can only imagine how good it must be!
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris – I’ve always wanted to read a David Sedaris book, so I thought this was finally my chance! He reads with such sarcasm and wit, that you genuinely feel engrossed in his stories. His minor frustrations with everyday occurrences were something I related to and laughed along with!
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler – This was my first celebrity audiobook and the one that got me hooked. I really think hearing the book read by Amy herself is the best way to experience the book. Although I read Tina Fey’s and Mindy Kaling’s books on paper, I’m sure those ones would’ve been twice as good if I listened to them like Amy’s.

Tip: Under no circumstances do I recommend listening to Carrie Fisher’s book, Wishful Drinking. I think it was the worst reading I’ve heard, she sounded like a crazy person throughout!

Streaming Netflix Documentaries You Must Check Out!

Ok so one or two people may know me as a person who watches lots of random Netflix documentaries. And that’s ok! I’m paying for the service, so might as well learn something along the way right? Whether you like documentaries or not, here are some that I enjoyed and I recommend checking out:

Netflix Collage

1. Jiro Dreams of Sushi – So I love sushi, but I didn’t realize how much time and effort it takes to make some of the best in the world! This documentary follows 85 year old sushi master Jiro Ono and his quest to make the perfect sushi at his legendary restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. People think I’m crazy for wanting to try this $400/plate restaurant, but if I ever go to Japan, I’m there!

2. Dear Zachary – I’ve heard about this one for so long and knew it was a crucial Netflix documentary to watch. I won’t give much away, but it’s about the filmmaker exploring the murder of his friend and the events that unfold around it. I never get emotional at movies and this one had me in tears!

3. Unhung Hero – One day I was looking for something a little lighter and decided to check out Unhung Hero. I’ve been raving about it ever since! After getting dumped by his girlfriend because of the size his manhood, Patrick decides to travel the world and find out: does size really matter? I found this one incredibly interesting and light-hearted.

4. Tabloid – Ok so this crazy lady once called my office when I was working as a publicist’s assistant years ago. She claimed the Mormons took her husband and all this crazy stuff. Naturally, I hung up. Later, I heard that she called some other assistants as well. Someone mentioned that there was a documentary about her called Tabloid, and obviously I was intrigued to check it out. While you don’t ever find out if her story is true, seeing her tell it is entertaining nonetheless!

5. Forks Over Knives, Food Inc. and Fed Up – I think you can have a triple feature with these food-related documentaries. Forks Over Knives explores the benefits of a plant-based diets. Food Inc. examines the agriculture industry and where food comes from. Fed Up studies the obesity epidemic and the the way food effects it. All these definitely made me rethink my diet and how the food I eat effects my health.

6. Craigslist Joe – One guy decides to leave everything behind and live off of the goodwill of strangers through Craigslist. This is an inspiring documentary that made me think how untrusting we are today and that we should try to help each other out more.

7. A Brony Tale – This documentary explores the world of Bronies, fanboys of My Little Pony. Need I say more? The premise was intriguing enough for me!

8. Bowling for Columbine – Michael Moore’s documentary on violence and guns in America is a must! For a developed nation with no civil war, why are the deaths by firearms so high? Interesting food for thought!

9. First Position – Every wonder what it takes to be a ballerina? This documentary follows dancers as they prepare for one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world.

10. The Imposter – Would you recognize your own son after years apart? This documentary centers on a Frenchman who claims to be a Texas family’s missing son. It’s interesting to see how grief sometimes masks our intuition.

Also, some streaming documentaries on my radar: Stories We Tell, Supermensch, Burt’s Buzz, and Miss Representation

**Bonus: If you’re interested in other social issues, I recommend the Inside Man series by Morgan Spurlock as well!

Lately

My schedule has been packed since I got back from my trip. This weekend I was finally able to veg out a little and catch up on life. Here are some highlights from my recent LA ventures:

IMG_5062Newsies at The Pantages with friends!

IMG_5053A Friday treat at California Donuts (I got fruity pebbles!)

IMG_5070A much needed beach day!

IMG_5073 (1)Happy to be back in the California sun!

Reviewing the Acer Chromebook C720

When I was in the market for a new computer recently (my other model was a 2006 Dell!), I knew I didn’t want to pay a huge sum of money. I have an iPad that I mainly use for entertainment purposes, but I was still wanting something with a keyboard so I could start a blog (oh heyy). I really just needed the internet and a keyboard. I could use Microsoft word on my work computer if needed. I heard about the Chromebooks online and asked a few friends about it. The $200 price point and compact frame was nice, so I decided to take the plunge and am so glad I did!

The model I went with was an Acer Chromebook c720. Chromebooks all have a Chrome operating system. Basically, you take it out of the box, enter in your gmail username and password, and you’re ready to go! Everything operates super fast and the battery lasts for hours. It’s super compact and lightweight, I love how easy it is to carry around. I even got a cute little sleeve from Etsy to protect it.

IMG_3358The cute sleeve I got from Bertie’s Closet on Etsy

I have a Google+ app on my phone where I sync all my photos to. Whenever I need a photo for a blog post or what-not, I can access it quickly on my computer. The computer also comes with a HDMI input and USB. I’ve plugged it into my TV a few times to watch movies that were only available on my Google Drive and the quality is great.

The only thing I find odd about the Chrome system is all the apps they have. I really don’t see the point of them. I downloaded their Pinterest app and basically it takes you to the Pinterest homepage, no special interface or anything. I could easily just type in Pinterest.com.

Overall I highly recommend the Chromebook. I think it would be great for bloggers or recent grads alike. Seriously, do we really need those $1,000 computers? I think the Chromebooks are going to start putting those more expensive brands out of business.

Reading More in 2014

One of my goals for 2014 was to read more books. I grew up an avid reader, but got lost along the way. It was hard in college with all the homework and reading needed for my coursework. Also, I found that I was gravitating toward the short-form reading that was trending from places like Twitter and Buzzfeed. In addition, I had an Amazon book-buying problem. My wish list was constantly growing as was my bookshelf, but I wasn’t reading the books I bought.

In the end, I found once I made time to read before going to bed, and brought my book with me everywhere, it got easier. Usually, by forcing myself to read the first half of the book, I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down. I’m proud to say that I read 24 books in 2014. I honestly feel happier from it. I feel like I got back a part of me that I’d lost. Here are some of the highlights of the books I read:

Books Collage

1. A House in the Sky – Amazing story about a girl who loves to travel and gets captured in Somalia. I couldn’t put it down!

2. Me Before You – Cute love story about a quadriplegic boy and the bond he forms with his new female caretaker. It’s a tearjerker, but also explores a controversial topic. I hear a movie is being made about this one. Can’t wait!

3. This is Where I Leave You – Compelling and humorous story about a dysfunctional family forced to sit Shiva together when their father dies. Definitely be sure to read this one rather than see the film.

4. Coreyography – This one is a little random, but I saw Corey Feldman on the Today show talking about his book and thought it seemed interesting. I think I read it in about a week, it was so interesting to hear his story about being a young kid in Hollywood.

5. The Art of Racing in the Rain – Very cute yet powerful story from the perspective of a dog. There were parts in the book that went so wrong that it made me value what I have.

6. Knowing Your Value – While I also read Lean In as one of my books this year, Knowing Your Value hit on a lot of the same principals. It made me feel empowered to ask for more in the workplace.

7. Divergent – I love a good young adult novel and this one was just what I needed. I found myself wanting to come home and read this book every night.

Admittedly, there were two books I decided not to finish, just because I couldn’t get through them.

1. Franny & Zooey – I think Salinger is best kept for my high school English class.

2. Entwined in You – I loved the first books this series, but sadly this book was a miss. I don’t think I will continue to read any others that are published.

Overall, I was very happy to be able to fulfill one of my new years resolutions. I now bring my book with me everywhere and find pleasure in reading at coffee shops or random places. My favorite was reading a book at the top of Runyon Canyon one day. Although, note to self, I need to confirm the content of the book before bringing it on vacation. I ended up reading 2 books in a row on my China vacation about people losing spouses, definitely not the happiest! I still have many more books to get through in 2015 and I can’t wait!

Other books I read in 2014:

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Lean-In

Beautiful Ruins

Reconstructing Amelia

Where Did You Go Bernadette?

Killing Yourself to Live

The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing

Love is a Mixtape

The Year of Magical Thinking

I Was Told There’d be Cake

Too Good to Be True (book club read, not my idea! I wouldn’t recommend!)

Orange is the New Black

Tuesdays with Morrie

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Not That Kind of Girl (My first Kindle purchase!)

The Light Between Oceans

Born Standing Up

My Must-See Holiday Films

Every holiday season I dip into my inventory of films to watch all my favorite holiday classics (or at least classics to me!). Here’s a look at my must-see’s for the holidays:

1. Christmas Vacation – Every year my family makes time to watch Christmas Vacation together. We’ve graduated from watching the film on a VHS tape recorded from TV to a Blu-Ray this year! We know all the great lines and look forward to watching it together every year :)

2. Home Alone – I’m watching this as I type this! Definitely a classic and one of the cleverest of the holiday films. Plus, I love a good plain cheese pizza!

3. The Santa Clause – Another one of those clever holiday classics. Tim Allen’s transformation from grumpy businessman to Santa Clause is a holiday tale not to be missed!

4. The Holiday – Who doesn’t love a good holiday romantic comedy? I remember seriously considering trying a home exchange when I saw this film (first, I need to get a home though). Aside from the cute story, I love that the film has scenes in Los Angeles and Cameron Diaz’s beautiful winter style.

5. Elf – Need I say more? Another great holiday film with so many quotable lines. “Codeword is ‘Santa’s got a brand new bag'”

Honorable mentions:

  • Anastasia – My mom took me to see this film on Christmas Eve one year, so I always associate it with the holidays.
  • Babes in Toyland – I’ve been trying to find this one on DVD for years. A TV holiday movie with young Keanu Reeves and Drew Barrymore is corny in the best way!
  • Edward Scissorhands – For some reason it’s always on TV during the holidays. And snow is a big part of the plot!
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Who doesn’t love Jonathan Taylor Thomas?
  • Jingle All The Way – For some reason hearing Arnold say “Those are MY cookies!!” is the best!
  • Love Actually – I remember sneaking into the theater to see this when I was in high school. Nowadays, it’s the perfect holiday film for a girls night, complete with wine of course!