Saturday, July 20, 2019


Whew! This summer is flying by! I have exactly three more weeks left before I go back to work. I'm not complaining--I never expected to have a job where I get so much time off and I'm so very grateful for it.

It's been hot hot hot here. The temperatures and humidity have been so high that the heat index has been hovering between 105-110F. That's insane. Stepping outside is like walking into a sauna.  So much for spending time outdoors in the summer!

Since I've been in the house estivating for the past few weeks, I've been taking the opportunity to binge on books and tv. It's been a real treat to spend hours every day reading and discovering new tv shows. Here's what I've read and watched so far this summer:


As I've mentioned here already, I've been on a Philippa Gregory kick since May. I've read several of her Plantagenet/Tudor novels and since she's such a prolific writer, there are plenty more to choose from. I'm on a small break from them at the moment. Here are the ones I've read, in the order in which I read them:

The Red Queen
The White Princess
The Lady of the Rivers
The Constant Princess
The Kingmaker's Daughter
The Other Queen

All of these are set prior to the reign of Henry VIII, with the exception of The Constant Princess, and that one is mostly about Katherine of Aragon's early life, her brief marriage to Henry's older brother Arthur, and the lie she told to be allowed to marry Henry after Arthur's death. And now that I think about it, The Other Queen is set after Henry had died and his daughter Elizabeth was on the throne. I forgot about it because it was my least favorite of the six books I've read so far.

I've read a couple of other books this summer, too.

Educated by Tara Westover
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Educated is the true story of a young woman raised by mentally ill, violent, dysfunctional parents in the mountains of Idaho. They were fundamentalist-leaning Mormons, survivalists, poverty stricken, and "end of days" preppers along the lines of the Ruby Ridge family. Tara never saw the inside of a classroom until she was almost an adult, and the family never saw doctors even when truly horrific accidents and illnesses struck. Despite all this, Tara ended up going to Cambridge and Harvard and traveling all over the world, eventually earning a Ph.D and writing Educated about her jaw-dropping life story. It's incredibly compelling and I highly recommend it! This is my book club's August selection but I finished it in two days this past week. I couldn't put it down!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was a loan from a book club friend that I discovered while dusting and organizing my bookshelves last week. I finally got around to reading it, and it was...meh. I'm not a huge fan of light mystery novels, and that's what this is. Apparently it's the first of a series of books about a brilliant 11 year old chemistry loving prodigy girl named Flavia de Luce. It's set in 1950s England, which was my favorite part of the book, but otherwise it wasn't my cup of tea. (Cup of tea! Ha!) I doubt I'll be reading any other books in the series.


I got a cheap 3 month trial of Starz so that I could watch their series based on the Philippa Gregory books: The White Queen, The White Princess, and The Spanish Princess. All three are gorgeous to look at (the settings, the costumes) and the actors are all pretty good. I'm through with the first two, and have just started The Spanish Princess.

We've also been watching American Gods on Starz. The book by Neil Gaiman is one of my all time favorites, and the show is pretty good, too. The casting is spot on and the way it's adapted for television is well done. I think Gaiman is one of the executive producers.

HBO  has been knocking it out of the park with some of their new series. We've been watching Big Little Lies (season 2...with Meryl Streep!) Euphoria, Years and Years, and most recently (and we're binging this one) True Blood. Yes, I know I'm extremely late to the True Blood party, but that just means we have the whole series to watch at our leisure. I always thought the premise sounded kind of silly but it turns out the show is very fun to watch. Speaking of fun....and the lack of it.....Years and Years is set 15 years into the future, and it's uncomfortable to watch as it's almost dystopian, and then the shocking surprise ending of episode 4 didn't sit well with me. I doubt I'll be watching any more of that one.

So there you have it: How I've been spending my summer vacation! Have you read or watched anything on my list? Or anything else good I should know about? I'd love to hear about it if you have.


  1. After I read "Big Little Lies" I have binged reading all of Liane Moriarty's books. All good! And we're watching "Big Little Lies" now too and I really want to murder Meryl Streep.
    Wasn't "Educated" simply amazing? My GOD! What a story!
    I love listening to the audio versions of Philippa Gregory's books.
    We're catching up on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" but that show is not everyone's cup of tea. (Haha!) I love it though in a sort of horrified way.

  2. I read BLL before I saw the show and I loved it! I'll have to look for Liane Moriarty's other books on your recommendation! And yes, I do want to murder Meryl Streep. She's so creepy good in that role!

    Educated was incredible. I really couldn't put it down.

  3. I don't know any of the TV shows you have been watching, but I really enjoyed the book "American Gods". So far, I have not read anything by Neil Gaiman I did NOT enjoy!
    On my blog, I have only reviewed one of his books (click here if you are interested); that means I must have read "American Gods" a long time ago, before I started reviewing all my reading.
    "Educated" sounds unputdownable indeed. As for Alan Bradley's series, I think I have read about it on someone else's blog and thought it sounded interesting, but have not read any of it myself.
    Three weeks? How time flies, indeed!

  4. So far, so good! I thought "Educated" was an AMAZING book. I haven't read Phillippa Gregory, although we have a few of her books in the library. I am intrigued by "Big Little Lies" but so far I haven't seen that either!

  5. It is indeed a wonderful vacation.

  6. only 3 weeks left? DAMN!

    I am currently reading "the good neighbor", a bio of fred rogers. fascinating person he was.

  7. I ride bike... I work on the next book... I ride bike... I work on the next book, oh, and I"m trying to teach myself Greek.

  8. I wondered why you were so quiet in The Land of Blog Jennifer. Now I know. Try reading "My Absolute Darling" by Gabriel Talent. It's special and every word counts.

  9. I have several books on my MP3, and am listening to Sally Fields autobiography, "In Pieces."

  10. hohoho
    I always have prepared a list of my favorite books lest someone ask for a recommendation.

  11. I have read a couple Philippa Gregory books about Henry VIII and his wives. I love the Tudor period. I am reading Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb who is a therapist and writes about her patients fully disguised of course and her own visits to her therapist since she needs help with crises she is enduring. I don't want to put it down.

  12. Philippa Gregory's work is worth reading. I enjoyed Big Little Lies, although the second season wasn't as good as the first (in my opinion). Summer vacation flies by too quickly.