Words for Nerds

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

This was a quick and easy read for the summer, but I wasn’t in love with it. It has an unexpected development between two characters which was lovely, but I never truly cared about anyone in the story. The characters seems to talk at each other instead of with each other which is always leaves a hollow feeling. I wanted to love it because so many people recommended it, but I never had that moment where I hated to put it down at night.

In this entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

The Women in the Castle

A brief synopsis:

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

I enjoyed this novel quite a bit and I wish it had been longer with the characters better fleshed out. Even though I enjoyed it over all, I struggled to feel connected to the women and the ending felt flat. I wish there had been an actual climax or sense of urgency established at any point in the novel. Post-war Europe was such a nightmare for people, and I never truly felt that sense of desperation.

The Bat by Jo Nesbø

The Bat (Harry Hole, #1)

A few years ago when we were in France I saw an advertisement for the Inspector Harry Hole series and I couldn’t handle the absurdity of that name. It is apparently pronounced something similar to “Harry Holey,” but that is still RIDICULOUS. Anyway, I had not thought much about it until one of my students started haranguing me to read the series a few months ago. I was resistant, but he finally convinced me with the new trailer for The Snowman with Michael Fassbender.

 

Michael Fassbender ALWAYS gets my attention. Well played, student. He told me to start with the first of the series, but to be patient because the first two were his least favorite. I appreciated him tempering my expectations because I was not disappointed by The Bat. It was interesting, but not memorable. I felt like it was trying too hard to make a relationship relevant for the sake of a plot point and a lot of the story telling was stilted by the translation. It seemed like too much unnecessarily meandering coupled with other parts that were so erratically paced that I didn’t realize something significant had even transpired until pages later.

WTF Wednesday

There are frequent times in my life that I honestly cannot believe how incredibly stupid I can be. God did not giveth to me in the common sense department. This weekend I was cooking and I could not for the life of me get the clear plastic part of this container detached from the yellow piece on the bottom.

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There were minutes of struggle. So, I asked Sari to come help me out. I realized as she walked over to the kitchen that I could simply pour the tomatoes out of the top of the container where there is a big hole under the “Cherubs” label. I already had that part open, and it did not once occur to me as I struggled to properly open the bottom of the container that I could just pour them out of the already opened top. Sari was not impressed.

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I just stayed riding in that train of dumbness right on into Monday. My boss forwarded me an email asking asked if I wanted to attend a solar eclipse watching event 9 am on August 21. I assumed it was 9 pm and explained that we had an event that night. Now, if you know anything all about a solar eclipse, then you already know that it requires the sun in order to happen. It never occurred to me when I was answering that a solar eclipse at night makes NO SENSE AT ALL. Thankfully, he pointed out my error before I could reply to the group declining the invitation, but I felt like a real fool.

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On the bright side, Lisa also thought it was at night too, so that made me feel a lot better about the whole thing. In our defense, no one ever invites us to fun things at 9 am on a Monday.

To everyone who is pregnant, I love you, but you’re not finding out the gender of your baby – you’re finding out the sex. There were five “gender reveal” parties that popped up on my Facebook this weekend. I felt truly sad watching them because there was only one father who seemed thrilled out of his mind to find out they were going to have a girl. One dad found out he was having a boy and shouted, “Yes, YES, I won!!! THANK GOD.” Rude. And two other dads looked completely bewildered and shocked when learning they are having a daughter.

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One future dad just said, “Oh, okay” and SHRUGGED. HE SHRUGGED. He would be a dead body if he was with me (see: Reasons I’m Alone). I see these kinds of reactions to girls all too frequently and it honestly breaks my heart. There is so much jubilation over a son, and they excitedly start talking about taking him hunting and playing sports with him. Dudes, your daughters can go hunting and play sports with you too. I’m not saying that this happens every time and I know plenty of guys who were beyond happy to find out they were going to have a daughter, but if you can’t be equally excited regardless of the sex of your baby, then maybe don’t film yourself finding out and put it on the internet.

I also don’t think it’s fair to start setting the expectation that your child will behave or act in a certain way (gender) before they’re even born, but that’s a whole other issue.

Supper Under the Stars

I realize that this is super pathetic, but I felt incredibly proud of myself on Friday because I ran more than one errand after work. I almost never have the patience or energy to go anywhere after being at work, but on Friday I even managed to force myself to go to the mall.

I returned some stuff that didn’t work out from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and braved the crowds in Sephora. I am trying to buy more natural products that aren’t tested on animals, so I needed to restock quite a few things (I also went to The Body Shop). I really wanted to find some lipstick I would actually wear, but I tried probably 20 different options and didn’t find anything that didn’t startle me when I looked in the mirror. Do you just have to to keep wearing lipstick to get used to your face with it? It just always seems so garish on my face.

On Saturday morning I went to Orange Theory and had a great workout. My knee didn’t hurt at all and I felt so much better after. I spent the next seven hours running more errands that I had been putting off for the past few weeks. I also squeezed in an acupuncture session and met Heather for sushi. It was a solidly productive day and I even managed to get a nap in when I got home.

On Sunday I did some meal prep for the week and finally made this chicken recipe. I used riced cauliflower and while it didn’t look as pretty as the pictures, it was tasty. I went up to the office for a few hours, then drove down to Sutter Creek to hang out with Lisa and her boyfriend, Rob. A couple of months ago we purchased tickets to Supper Under the Stars in Volcano Sunday night and I went down a few hours early so that we could enjoy some adult beverages beforehand. Rob was working on the yard when I arrived, so Lisa and I left him behind and went to a new tasting room in town. It’s hard to say if it was super fantastic or if chilled white wine always tastes amazing when it’s 100 degrees out, but I left with several bottles of it.

Lisa and I then moseyed over to Provisions for some snacks and a beer. I had not eaten lunch, so Lisa suggested that if I was hungry, then I should try their “really great almonds.” This is probably she’s such a teeny tiny person, but almonds is NOT A MEAL. So, I bought some cheeses and bread to enjoy with our drinks. Crazy woman. We then met up with Rob and he drove us to Volcano for the dinner. I didn’t drink anything more after we arrived since I was driving us back (and I had to get back to Sacramento), but they had a whole hour of beer and wine tasting before the dinner. Next time. We were seated around seven and it was a beautiful evening.

I didn’t get home until midnight, but we had a lot of fun so it was worth it. I miss seeing Lisa every day and I am cannot wait until she is back in our office. SOON.

10 Thing Friday

1. Lisa and I went on a friend date on Monday to see Girls Trip. It was absolutely hilarious and totally lovely. Jada Pinkett Smith was so cute and nerdy that I just wanted to put her in my pocket. She usually plays such badass characters, so it was fun to see her in a totally different role. And Tiffany Haddish is a freaking riot. Go see it!

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As an added bonus, it’s rife with very handsome men (Mike Colter! Larenz Tate! Kofi Siriboe! Common! William Levy!).

2. I am desperately having to use all of my self control to not fly to London in February to see the Ocean Liners: Speed & Style exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. SO FABULOUS.

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3. I started watching Fortitude on Amazon Prime a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t really know what to think about it. The first season ended with an interesting problem, but I don’t quite understand the big picture of what is going on in season 2 at all (I only have two episodes left). I like that it’s consistently strange, creepy, and a bit gory. It is also mostly filmed in Iceland which makes for stunning scenery and lots and lots of cold and snow, so that’s lovely.

4. National Geographic‘s Best Drone Photos of the Year.

(Photograph by HELIOS1412)

5. This is the kind of salad I can get behind.

This Avocado Chicken Salad recipe is a keeper! Easy, excellent chicken salad with lemon dressing, plenty of avocado, irresistible bites of bacon and corn | natashaskitchen.com

6. Your Handy Field Guide to the Plethora of Princess Diana Anniversary Specials.

Image result for princess diana gif7. This looks GOOD.

8. Halo is now the best-selling pint of ice cream in the United States. Have y’all even had BlueBell? Or Tillamook?? I’ve tried several flavors of Halo and it all tastes weirdly dry to me. I don’t even know why I have such a strong opinion about this because I don’t eat much ice cream, but, seriously, have you had BlueBell?

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Kids are such strange creatures and I love them for it.

10. On mental health and climate change.

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