Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunay Snapshot is Getting Ready for a New Year

champagne gif
Visual approximation of current plans.

Currently reading:

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie: The first Miss Marple book. Not what I was expecting, but Richard Grant is doing a fantastic job narrating the audiobook.

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid: Almost finished! Thank god.


A reading list for those of us who want to get more vegetables and whole grains into our diet. Plus my 2017 Reading Round-Up.

Happy New Year!

I hope you all have a safe and fun New Year's Eve! I have a bottle of bubbly on ice and ambitious plans to crush the whole damn thing.

drink gif

Since it is that time of year, I've been thinking about my New Year's Resolutions. Last year my resolutions were to exercise more (how creative), pay off credit cards and save money, practice languages, and finish The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I totally failed on the last one, but marginally succeeded on the others. This year I'd like to:

Save money for Paris: According to Rick Steves, one should budget about $140 per day for a Paris vacation, not including the hotel room. This seems like a lot, but better to err on the side of overestimating I guess. Hopefully I'll get a tax refund (??? who really knows at this point) and that will help to fund the trip in addition to saving money.

Write more better: 2017 was not awesome for the writing career. I lost two of my regular clients and didn't have enough time to hustle for new clients to replace them. I think it's probably a good time to reevaluate and refocus and inject some new energy into writing.

Eat more plants: According to a documentary I watched on Netflix, a plant-based diet can cure everything from heart disease to dandruff. I know we all have to die of something, but I'd rather it not be dandruff.

Do you have any New Year Resolutions?

Happy New Year to all, and as the Germans say, Glück soll uns das neue Jahr gestalten und wir bleiben hoffentlich die alten.

champagne in a shoe

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Year-End Wrap-Up

My top Instagram pics for 2017, featuring Sofie, an old Brownie camera, and lots of sunsets.

Oh 2017. You were exhausting. I've already shared my feelings on the year in general (apparently I'm so looking forward to a new year I labeled that post Christmas 2018 instead of '17), but I didn't have a chance to round up my year in reading. Until now!

The number of books I read in 2017 was honestly pathetic, by my standards anyway. I've only read 80 books so far. I may be able to bump that up to 81 before the year is out, but either way I've read less books this year than I've ever read since I started tracking my reading on Goodreads.

On the positive side, I did pretty well on my Around the World In Books challenge. I managed to read books by authors from 14 non-US countries, including Taiwan, Malay, and South Korea. In terms of numbers, the US made up the vast majority of my reading–no surprise there–with the UK and Japan (thanks, manga!) coming in a distant second and third.

Here are some memorable reading highlights and lowlights from the year:

act like it
Favorite romance: Act Like It by Lucy Parker

My review from Book Riot's January Round-Up:

There is literally nothing not to love about this romance. You’ve got London’s West End theater scene, a sweet-but-tough heroine, tons of trouble generated by larger-than-life characters in the supporting cast, and a hilariously grumpy-ass hero who makes “Mr. Darcy look like the poster child for low self-esteem.” The story is perfectly paced and even when they’re fighting–which they do for most of the first half of the book, and very entertainingly too–Richard and Lainie have incredible chemistry. I think what I adored most about this novel, though, was the peek into the world of the theater (“The theater, the theater, whatever happened to the theater” <–what plays in my head whenever someone says the word theater), with all its glamor and politics and fancy dresses and gossip and sexism. Very dramatic, and so much fun! A must-read for anyone who enjoys contemporary romance, imo.

pretty face
Biggest disappointment: Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

Well, they can't all be winners. Here is the review I wrote for Pretty Face here and then decided not to publish (although I did post a nicer version on Book Riot. Yes, that's me being nice):

Lily Lamprey is a television soap star, but what she really wants to do is work in the theater. Luc Savage's new play in London's West End is her big break, but should Lily risk her career and reputation on their mutual attraction?

I do not get the love for this book AT ALL. It basically exemplifies why I stopped buying romance novels last year: 1. it's not romantic; and 2. it's boring AF. I feel like it sucked five weeks out of my life and I only spent a week and a half reading it.

Here's the thing: Luc and Lily spend very little time together during the course of the book, and whenever they do manage to find themselves alone in a room together, they're immediately interrupted by someone's who's like, "I SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING HERE, HANKY PANKY!" So over the course of 150 pages, they do little more than hug, stare at each other, and get to first base. If they were *really* that attracted to one another, don't you think they would make more of an effort to actually, I don't know, be together?

All that wouldn't make me too grouchy if there was another plot to follow, but there's not. Luc and Lily are it. So instead of a romance novel, we get an endless series of scenes that do nothing to drive the narrative forward. Most of these scenes consist of people standing around and talking about Luc and Lily's relationship. What relationship? People assuming you're sleeping together is not a relationship!

Add to that some truly lazy descriptions and the fact that the potential for drama is wasted at every opportunity, and by the 60 percent mark I was getting pretty damn impatient and cranky with this pile of nothing. I can't believe I wasted so much time reading this book when I could have been reading literally anything else. If you do read this novel, please only read the scenes where Luc and Lily are together and then tell me how long it took to finish; I'd be interested to know.

miss tonks turns to crime
Favorite series: The Poor Relation by Marion Chesney

I read all six of these books in 2017, quite an accomplishment for someone who struggles to make it through series like myself. This charming series focuses on group of older poor relations in Regency England who decide to take matters into their own tentacles and open a hotel that caters to their wealthy families. Along the way there's romance, drama, and misadventure. These books aren't going to win any literary awards, but I loved the poor relation characters and how Chesney tied their stories together.

trust me
Most questionable cover: Trust Me by Laura Florand

From another grouchy review I wrote here but never published:

Let's start with the whitewashed cover, shall we? Trust Me's fearless heroine, Lina, is of Algerian/Syrian descent and is described as having golden skin dark enough to hide a blush and black, curly hair. Meanwhile, the woman on the cover doesn't even look vaguely Mediterranean. Out of curiosity, I Googled "Algerian women French" and got a bunch of pictures of women who were brown- to olive-skinned and absolutely gorgeous, including this photo of French-Algerian actress Sabrina Ouazani, who looks pretty close to how I was picturing Lina in my head:

Sabrina Ouazani

I just wonder why Florand decided to whitewash her own damn cover. It's bad enough when publishers do it, but Trust Me is self-published. Did Florand think the book wouldn't sell if there was a brown person on the cover? Maybe don't write about one either, then.

born a crime
Favorite non-fiction book: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Memoirs and I usually don't get along, but when Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show that he was "born a crime" in South Africa, I wanted to know more about his story. I'm so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and read this book because it is ALL THE THINGS. Gut-busting hilarious, sad, poignant, thoughtful, and entertaining. Noah sure as fuck knows how to tell story, and I learned a lot about a country and culture about which I was more or less completely ignorant. Not just that, but what it means to be hungry, grow up in the hood, and be mixed race. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone.

Biggest pleasant surprise: Malice by Keigo Higashino

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but it sucked me in from the word go and led me down a crazy-twisty rabbit hole. Maybe a little *too* twisty for belief right there at the end, but I sure as hell enjoyed the ride.

the lost book of the grail
Favorite mystery: The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett

This book has everything: religion, faith, libraries, humor, romance, the legend of the Holy Grail, billionaires with questionable motives. Everything just works, even the stuff that usually annoys me.

the gentleman's guide to vice and virtue
Best overall (audiobook, historical, romance, adventure): The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

This book, you guys. THIS BOOK. Again, this is a book with everything: pirates, Versailles, Venice, alchemy, highway robbery, evil dukes, bluestockings, absolutely swoon-worthy romance. I wish I lived in this novel so that I could hang with Monty, Percy, and Felicity all the time. It's a romp, a romp I tells ye!

simple green suppers
Favorite cookbook: Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton

2017 was the year I got serious about eating more plants (TM), and this was the perfect book to help. The suppers are filling and satisfying, flexible, and delicious. I actually crave several of the recipes in here now, and I've never found myself saying that about vegetables before.

2017 by the numbers:

  • 80 books total
  • 45 of those books were by women (men are catching up! usually the percentage is usually closer to 60/40)
  • A little more than 1/4th of the books I read were romance (or at least had a romantic subplot)
  • Only 16 books were mysteries
  • As for classics, those took a nosedive: I only read 1 classic this year
  • According to Goodreads, the most popular book I read this year was Graceling by Kristin Cashore, a book I don't even remember reading. Go home Goodreads, you're drunk.

How was your year in reading? Any favorites?

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Christmas 2018

Currently reading:

The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge by Charlie Lovett: You can tell Lovett is fanboying Dickens here.

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid: I'll admit when I first started this book I thought it was pretty dumb. But then Reid threw in a twist and she got me hooked.


A list of favorite mystery romance novels that you need to read like RN.


the last jedi poster
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, starring all the people from the previous Star Wars movie

Star Warrrrrs, Starrrr Warrrrs! This movie was about at the same level as Attack of the Clones for me, except the visuals were much better. I liked it and I'm happy I saw it, but I don't think I'll have the patience to watch it again. It was wayyyy tooooo loooooong. Also the lengthy exposition and copy/paste quotes from previous Star Wars movies bugged me.

On the plus side, I was relieved Kylo Ren and Rey didn't hook up. Despite the gratuitous shirtless scene. lol

My mom has also been forcing me to watch romantic Christmas movies on Netflix. In order of bearableness:

the spirit of christmas
The Spirit of Christmas, starring Jen Lilley and Thomas Beaudoin

Surprisingly romantic, considering the hero is dead. Every Christmas, Daniel reanimates for 12 days and haunts the B&B he owned before he was murrrrdered. This causes problems for Kate, a lawyer who's hired to liquidate the estate. I loved the super grumpy ghost and Beaudoin ain't hard on the eyes either.

a christmas prince
A Christmas Prince, starring Rose McIver and Ben Lamb

Basically Prince Harry fanfic. It kind of reminds me of The Prince & Me, in that I'm aware it is a terrible movie and yet I still watch it.

christmas inheritance
Christmas Inheritance, starring Eliza Taylor and Jake Lacey

The major weakness of this one is the hero. He is not physically attractive AT ALL. There are also continuity issues that make me think intelligence was not applied to this script (how is whipped cream a reasonable replacement for clotted cream? Would you put clotted cream in your coffee?). But it was okay.

dear santa
Dear Santa, starring Amy Acker, Emma Duke, and David Haydn-Jones

This movie offended every feminist sensibility I possess. Plus it doesn't even make sense. You're going to marry a guy just because his daughter wants him to??? No. Look at your life, look at your choices.

This month in heidenkindom:

The past few weeks have been pretty rough. My grandfather died the week before last and his funeral was just two days ago. So it's not the merriest of Christmases around here. To say the least. Writing Christmas cards becomes officially awful when you have to tell people a family member has passed away. Especially when you have to do it in German. This isn't the worst year I've ever had, but I'm more than ready to bid 2017 adieu.

Hopefully you all are having a better holiday season than I am. May the new year bring better things for all of us! See you on the flip side.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pre-Thanksgiving Sunday Snapshot

Fall sunsets are the best sunsets.

Has it really been nearly two months since I did a Sunday Snapshot?? Yikes! I didn't realize it'd been so long.

Currently reading:

The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand: Part of a reread with Kim and Kelly.

Back in Society by Marion Chesney: The final book in the Poor Relations series.


An article on Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold-Bug and how he basically jump-started modern cryptography.


murder on the orient express poster
Murder on the Orient Express, starring Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, a ton of other famous people

Based on the trailers, I was honestly expecting this movie to be a trainwreck (har har). But it actually was pretty good! I mean, it was too long, and I wish the filmmakers had spent more time developing the suspects' characters and less time showing Poirot mooning over "ma belle Katherina," or whatever her name was. But it looked freaking fantastic (65mm film, baby), and you could tell the whole cast was having a blast. Overall a pretty solid entry in TMOTOE adaptations. Better than the Alfred Molina one, that's for sure.

thor ragnarok poster
Thor Ragnarok, starring Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Hiddles McGriddles

The Thor movies are pretty much the only Marvel movies that don't put me to sleep, so I was super excited about Thor Ragnarok. And it tooooooootally lived up to the awesomesauce of the trailers. Super entertaining, funny, I got choked up with the whole Oden thing... Plus there are some CRAZY cameos in this movie. My favorite scene is still the play Loki put on about his "death," where Luke Hemsworth played Thor and Matt Damon played Loki. I approve of this franchise.

Kraftidioten, starring Stellan Skarsgård

After his son is killed by drug dealers, snowplow driver Nils goes on a mission of revenge! And it's definitely served cold. This movie is basically like a western, but set in Norway. It was a touch overly violent for my tastes, but the violence was balanced out with a lot of humor. My favorite part was when Nils kidnaps the drug kingpin's son and the little kid asks him, "Have you ever heard of Stockholm syndrome?" LOL

Just imagine Wallander crossed with a Quentin Tarantino movie. It was definitely worth the watch!

I know I've watched other movies than just these three in the last few weeks, but I'm having trouble remembering what they were. Maybe I should start taking notes or something.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

Sorry I've been off the radar for so long. I've basically been consumed with planning a trip to Paris in April. Which I know seeeems like a long ways away, but I like being prepared. I've also been writing more recently (not on here, obviously) and using my weekends to focus on that.

Are you all ready for Thanksgiving? I have all the sides planned, as well as a day-by-day plan for the next four days. I'm hoping I get a chance to write up a more detailed schedule for the day of. YES, I AM THAT PERSON. I'm planning to follow America's Test Kitchen recipe for Thanksgiving turkey and gravy. Plus we'll have green bean casserole–I've been craving it of late–stuffing, a carrot salad, and dumplings.

This is the first year I've taken the lead on Thanksgiving dinner so I want to make sure everything turns out edible. At the very least.

I hope you all have a lovely, cozy week! Let me know what you're excited about for Thanksgiving if you're celebrating it.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for the Second Week in a Row!

The flower accurately represents my feelings about fall. 

Currently reading:

Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler: Entertaining so far! I started it today and have already highlighted a ton of on-point quotes.

Starfall by Melissa Landers: The pacing feels all off. Not sure where Landers is going with this, if anywhere.


wonder woman
Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine

I loved the beginning of this movie where Diana is on the island with the other Amazons and fighting, and then when she leaves with Chris Pine and is confused by men and sexual politics. But the historical sections during WWI were just silly sometimes. FOR EXAMPLE, Pine's spy techniques appear to consist entirely of donning German uniforms and speaking with a truly terrible German accent. Like the worst. I still have no idea how or why a Native American got mixed up in this story (or what the hell was up with his costume), and is it weird that I'm hung up on the fact that modern-day Diana works at the Louvre? Anyway, it was okay, but I kinda wish there had been more women in it.

This week in heidenkindom:

I totally forgot Bloggiesta was this weekend! I was planning on moving my professional writing website from Blogger to Wordpress, but now that the actual time has come and I've recalled this task, I'm skerred. Supposedly it's easy to switch, but I've met Wordpress before, and I know what sadistic and difficult bitch she is. Wordpress can turn any simple task into something that will siphon your will to live. Why do I want to move over to Wordpress then, you're probably asking yourself. Mainly for the flexibility and more professional-looking themes. I also like how Wordpress handles images better than Blogger.

Anyway, I did look at two WP hosting plans earlier today, then decided to take a break to read a book about finance. Something's telling me this task is going to go on the back burner for the next Bloggiesta.

Has anyone migrated their blog from Blogger to Wordpress or vice versa? Is it really as "simple" as people say it is?

Have an excellent rest of the week!

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for the Middle of September

A dog working at an archery shop 😂

Currently Reading:

A Kiss in Lavender by Laura Florand: New Laura Florand book! Pretty exciting.

Sir Philip's Folly by Marion Chesney: Still working my way through the Poor Relations series.


guardians of the galaxy vol 2
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, starring Chris Pratt and a bunch of other people

The most oedipal movie I've seen recently, possibly ever.

Tbh I didn't want to watch this at all, because I thought the first Guardians was insaaaaaaanely boring. But my mom wanted to watch it, so I settled in for a long nap. The script of Vol. 2 is just as bad as Vol. 1, but is slightly elevated by the presence of several fantastic actors who manage to make the dialog sound much better than it actually is. It does feel like it goes on for about four hours, but I stayed awake through the whole thing, there was one really hilarious scene, and the music leaned more toward roots rock than insipid disco pop. So, while I doubt I'll ever be a fan of this franchise, Vol. 2 was an improvement over its predecessor.

the rundown
The Rundown, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Seann William Scott

I honestly don't remember The Rock ever looking as young as he does in this movie. Baby face! Anyway, you can tell the script was written by men because there are a ton of penis and peeing jokes. Like, SO MANY. What is it with guys and peeing? Despite that, it was actually a pretty decent, entertaining buddy comedy. You've got your MacGuffin, baddy bad guys on the trail, the Amazon jungle, an admirably tough token female character. I'm not going to run out and buy the DVD or anything, but it was fun while it lasted.

This month in heidenkindom:

September's been a real bitch so far. I would say I can't wait for the month to be over, but the next month is October, which is even worse. I hate fall.

So yeah. Not really feeling the positivity at the moment. A lot of my writing gigs have dried up and I haven't had the time to hustle for new ones, but maybe this is a sign I need to refocus on writing fiction again.


Lost in the Amazon

Last week, after watching The Lost City of Z, I tracked down Lost in the Amazon, an episode of Secrets of the Dead that tells the true story of Percy Fawcett. I particularly enjoyed it because it explained everything in the movie that didn't make sense. There was no city in the movie because Percy never found a lost city (well, he did, but didn't know... more on that later). And his motivations for looking for said city were paper-thin because the movie skipped over his true motivations entirely!

Percy WAS a famous and very skilled explorer, but he didn't set out to look for a lost city in the Amazon until his last trip, and it wasn't because he spotted a statue in the forest or heard stories about El Dorado from natives.

Percy was a theosophist and follower of Madame Blavatsky, who believed there were seven secret cities across the globe, inhabited by peoples with a higher consciousness and understanding of god/spiritual principles/what have you (picture Kamar-Taj from Doctor Strange). The discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911, as well as early Spanish colonial tales of a great city built by "pale-skinned natives," convinced Percy one of Blavatsky's lost spiritual cities could be found in the Amazon. Somewhere.

But why drag his son Jack and Jack's childhood BFF, Raleigh Rimell, along with him on this wild goose chase, when both 21-y-os were inexperienced and ill-prepared for jungle exploration? That story's even weirder. Before Jack was born, when Percy was stationed in Sri Lanka, two Buddhist monks came to him and predicted his first-born son would be a great spiritual leader. They gave him several signs so he would know they spoke the truth. I forget what the signs were, but suffice it to say Percy was convinced Jack was destined to be the next Nagarjuna.

Once he got the idea of a spiritual lost city of the Amazon into his head, Percy decided his purpose in life was to find this theoretical city for his son so that Jack could learn spiritual principles from the masters and fulfil his destiny. Of course, it's kind of hard to fulfil your destiny when you're dead.

As for Percy actually finding a lost city that's been recently rediscovered, that's strictly true, but much more complicated than the movie implied. Thanks to deforestation, a massive abandoned city has been uncovered in the Amazon, but it isn't the city of Percy's imagination. Since stone is hard to come by in the Amazon, the city was built out of earth and wood, which was quickly reclaimed by nature once deserted. Because map-maker Percy kept meticulous latitude and longitude notations of his journeys, archaeologists know for a fact that he camped smack-dab in the middle of one of the massive earthen mounds in the newly uncovered site. But as the area was covered by trees and vegetation at the time, there's no way Percy would have known he had, in fact, stumbled across a lost city.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me on this journey of discovery.

the more you wish you didn't know

Hope you all have a good week and enjoy the rest of the month!

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day Snapshot

Currently reading:

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub: I thoroughly enjoyed this short-lived TV series, so naturally I had to give the book a try. Shocker: It's a lot better than the TV show.

The Dire King by William Ritter: Fourth Jackaby novel! Pretty exciting.


The definitive guide to the best illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, and how to make rain gutter bookshelves.


hitman's bodyguard
The Hitman's Bodyguard, starring Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds

My expectations going into this movie were lower than a subterranean diamond mine. The title does not inspire confidence. But it turned out to be fun and entertaining. I am not unhappy I saw it! Yes, it's formulaic, and Jackson and Reynolds are basically reprising roles from better movies. And it could stand to lose about 20 minutes. But Reynolds and Jackson are awesome together–their "buddy cop" vibe is spot-on–and Salma Hayek is obviously having a blast playing a super bitch. Actually, I liked all the female characters and the love stories (there are love stories!) and tongue-in-cheek humor. It's not going to win any awards, that's for certain, but I can see why this movie's been #1 at the box office for three weeks. You could do worse than to spend two hours of your weekend watching this.

girl on a train
The Girl on the Train, starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, and Haley Bennett

Meh. Very gothic, but not as suspenseful or twisty as I was expecting. It's no Gone Girl, that's for sure. Blunt did an excellent job, though.

wind river
Wind River, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner

Similar to an episode of Longmire, but much less cheerful (and you didn't even think that was possible). I have to say, Renner was a revelation in this one. Usually I find him imminently forgettable, but he really knocked the role of modern mountain man out of the park. Surprising! Olsen looked more like an overwhelmed second grade teacher than an FBI agent, but she did all right. The script was not predictable at all and the story was excellent, except for a few loose ends and things that didn't make sense, like: I thought the crack den was miles from the oil rig, so how did that guy's body get dumped in the woods near there? And how have these tracks lasted so long in the snow after a blizzard? And did everyone really die in front of the trailer? But overall I thought it was a very good movie. Worth watching, just be prepared to be depressed AF afterward.

the lost city of z
The Lost City of Z, starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, and a practically unrecognizable Robert Pattinson

A movie about discovering a hidden city in the Amazon rainforest. What could go wrong???

Well, it turns out quite a lot. This movie was a slog from beginning to end for multiple reasons. For instance:

  1. The story has an unnecessary prologue that goes on and on and on. You see, Percy, our fearless protagonist, wants some bling for his army uniform, but sadly there aren't any wars going on, and therefore no chance to win medals. I feel so bad for him.
  2. When he does finally get to the jungle, it's not terribly interesting because he manages to encounter every Amazonian stereotype. Piranhas. Unfriendly natives with poison-tipped darts. Evil loggers. Shrunken heads. And tales of a lost city!
  3. Speaking of the eponymous lost city... THERE IS NO CITY. What Percy finds is a statue, before he's forced to retreat because of a large panther (see Amazon stereotypes, above). And hey, that's cool. But a solitary statue does not a city make.
  4. Actually, calling it a statue is generous, it's more of a carving in a large boulder next to a picturesque waterfall. It could be the result of tourism for all we know.
  5. To anyone else, this would be a footnote in their memoirs, but Percy decides it means Desperate Indian Bloke Just Trying to Get Away from White People was telling the truth about a lost city and he should therefore go BACK to the jungle to find it. What??? No wonder his wife is pissed at him.
  6. Further point of confusion: Instead of retracing his steps back to the statue, he decides to go a different route. Not sure why. Then, when they're "almost there," his men insist on quitting and going back because it's raining or they're hungry or something. "It's raining, Percy, give up." I think those were their exact words. You guys can't walk another 40 yards? *throws up hands*
  7. WWI break. Percy's son has some Daddy issues because he's spent 80% of the kid's childhood on another continent chasing a statue. So when he's injured in battle and they visit him in hospital, Jack's like, "I wish you had died, for all the good you do us." Ouch! Then he turns around and literally two minutes later, with nothing happening in between except his mom sobbing, he's all, "I love you, Father, and I want to explore the jungle and help you find the lost city." Is this a trap? Is Jack luring Percy out into the jungle to kill him? Questions mount.
  8. I'll admit I spent most of this movie shipping Percy and his second-in-command, Costin, because him going off into the jungle constantly to spend time with his luvahhh makes more sense than the lost city. It was especially obvious after the war where Costin's like, "I have a wife and child now, Percy, I have to quit all that." Alas, this was the only point of interest.
  9. Anyway! Back to the jungle! Again!
  10. So the ending of this movie is more or less made up because **100-year spoiler alert** no one knows what happened to Percy and Jack. They disappeared. My murder theory becomes more plausible by the moment, but I digress. The filmmakers could have done ANYTHING at this point. Shown us a lost city, perhaps??? That would have been exciting. BUT NO. Instead, Percy spits out some aphorisms about courage that are eye roll worthy, and then they're carried off into the jungle by natives. Okayyyy?
  11. Did Percy and Jack find the lost city? Imma gonna say no cuz I never saw any damned city. But according to the infobox that popped up before the end credits, someone did find Percy's city recently. WHAT?!? So there was a city all along? Why wouldn't you show us that?
I didn't mean to turn this post into a rant about The Lost City of Z, but uhg. Just imagine Jaws, but two and a half hours long with no shark, and you have a pretty good idea of what watching this movie is like.

This weeks in heidenkindom:

I can't believe summer is over already. It didn't feel like we had much of one: it was cool and rainy during the months it was supposed to be dry and hot, and now here comes fall. I'm not ready (I'm never ready for fall, TBH). I plan to spend this weekend enjoying as much blistering heat as possible while it lasts.

Anyway, for the last few weeks my parents have been on vacation to watch the eclipse and travel around, and while they were gone and I was alone pet sitting the Scottie terrorists, I decided to go vegetarian. And I feel fucking fantastic! I'm not going to be strict vegetarian or vegan from now on, but I really enjoyed sticking to a non-meat diet and munching on the late summer produce. Simple Green Suppers was a big help; I'd say nearly every recipe I tried was absolutely delish and relatively easy to make. A few favorites were portobello mushroom tacos, roasted green beans and radicchio pasta with pesto, and baked egg pizzioli. I'd recommend this cookbook if you're looking to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

Before I go, I just want to mention my thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey. I know a few people and their families who live in the Houston area and will have a lot of rebuilding to do once the water recedes, and my heart goes out to them. Hopefully Hurricane Irma won't be as bad as predicted.

Have a great week, everyone!

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Mid-August

Pretty garden!

Currently reading:

House of Spies by Daniel Silva: I haven't enjoyed a Silva book so much since The English Girl!

Starflight by Melissa Landers: So far a pretty silly YA romance... IN SPACE!


The discussion for Devils in Daylight over at Book Bloggers International. And hopefully at some point I'll have time to actually post responses.


atomic blonde poster
Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron

1989 Berlin. On the eve of the "end" of the Cold War, MI6 agent Lorraine must find a Very Important List before the Soviets do, and ferret out a MI6 mole while she's at it.

It wouldn't be quite correct to say this movie is an example of style over substance, but the costume and art departments definitely deserve an A+++++. Everything in Atomic Blonde looks absolutely fantastic, from the setting to the clothes to the way the shots are framed. Visually, it's to die for. The acting is also top-notch. Unfortunately, the other aspects of the film aren't as successful. It could lose about 20 minutes and be the better for it, and the script really needed a few moments of comic relief or SOMETHING to break up the unrelenting close-ups and face punching. Not sure I can entirely recommend this one, although it's not a bad movie by any means.

greenfingers poster
Greenfingers, starring Clive Owen, Natasha Little, and Helen Mirren

If you're into plants and gardening, you will adore this movie. It's about a man in prison who discovers a love of gardening and, through working on the prison's garden, he and the other gardeners become bffs and turn their lives around. Such a sweet, warm-hearted film, and I loved the romance between Colin and Primrose.

This month in heidenkindom:

At the risk of sounding like an Old Person, I can't believe it's almost mid-August already. The last few weeks have been pretty busy, what with appointments, work, events, and so on. It's also been rainy and cool the past few weeks, which doesn't put me in the greatest mood, although it is helping weeds grow. So there's that.

A post shared by Tasha (@tashaheidenkind) on

One cool thing that happened recently is someone gave me an old Brownie Reflex camera they found in their basement. I cleaned it up and bought film so I can take pictures with it (I'm not sure where the film will be developed, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it). The film roll only has 12 photos, so I'm being picky about what I photograph with it. I'm thinking of maybe using it for the solar eclipse next week. Either way I'm pretty excited to see how the photos turn out and I'll share them on here once I finish and develop the roll!

There's still lunch to be eaten, laundry to be folded, and a book to finish, so I'm off for now. Have an excellent week, everyone!

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Snapshot

Ragnarök, installation in progress

Currently reading:

Moon Over the Mediterranean by Sheri Cobb South: Supposed to be an homage to the romantic suspense novels of Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney. So far the only mystery I can find is why this woman is such a catty bitch.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: IDK, I love the characters but the romance occasionally sends me into a massive case of eye roll.


This week's Inbox/Outbox over at Book Riot.


Queen, starring Kangana Ranaut

When her dbag fiancé calls off their wedding, Rani decides to take their honeymoon vacation to Paris and Amsterdam by her own damn self, tyvm. The first half of this movie was okay, but it doesn't really start to pick up until Rani gets to Amsterdam, where it turns out she's sharing a room with four strange men in a youth hostel. She freaks the hell out (I don't blame her, tbh). But it turns out all the guys are gentlemen and super woke, and pretty soon everyone's friends and they're having adventures all over Amsterdam. I LOVE STORIES WHERE PEOPLE MEET AND BECOME FRIENDS, have I mentioned this?? Anyway, it was a bit slow in parts but I liked that Rani didn't wind up with anyone at the end. Worth watching if you enjoy these kinds of movies!

baby driver
Baby Driver, starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, and Kevin Spacey

Whenever I tell people I saw this movie, they ask two questions: What is it about, and why is the main character named Baby? So let me answer that upfront. Baby Driver is about a getaway driver who started driving at a very early age, hence why his nickname became, "Baby. B-A-B-Y, Baby." This movie's chock full of great actors, the soundtrack kicks ass, the chase scenes will make your heart pound, the love story was actually pretty sweet, and the whole thing has a very stylish, hip, Speed Racer vibe. The second half kind of devolved into an OTT shoot-em-out that seemed like it belonged in a different movie, but I liked that Baby's criminal career had some very real-world consequences and he didn't just drive into the sunset. I scrolled past a review of Baby Driver that described it as, "The thinking person's Fast & Furious," and that's a pretty decent elevator pitch. Definitely recommended!

What the Health, directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn

I'm not listening to anyone who tells me not to eat butter. DNF

Exciting news!

It's official: the 13th Doctor is going to be a woman. Jodie Whittaker, to be precise, who worked with Doctor Who's new head writer, Chris Chibnall (not to mention David Tennant), on Broadchurch. A show I stopped watching because it was so fucking depressing. But anyway. Hopefully Chibnall's Doctor will be a bit more upbeat.

And if you're searching for your daily dose of outrage, check out the comments by men on twitter who believe "the Doctor is primarily a male role," "Is the BBC going to recast Mary Poppins as a man now?" etc. etc. Fortunately a hero named @imteddybless has taken it upon herself to shut them all down.

Time for lunch! Hope you all have an awesome week.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Independence Day

Currently Reading:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: Just started this one on audio.

Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton: I spotted this book while searching Amazon for something completely unrelated (I think it was either deodorant or bitters) and immediately ordered it. I'm only about a third of the way through and I've already gotten a few awesome ideas for make-ahead sauces and condiments.

Movies watched:

beauty and the beast
Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens

The 1991 Beauty and the Beast (hard to believe it was that long ago!) is arguably the greatest animated film of all time, so this live action version had a lot to live up to. Basically it made me wish I was watching the animated movie, although I didn't think it was a total waste of time like I did Cinderella. I enjoyed the musical theater vibe and I LOVED Josh Gad as LeFou. He nailed that role out of the park. But it didn't have the magical wow factor of the animated film, and the beast just came across as a rich asshole. I think this was more the fault of the script than of Dan Stevens, but it was still disappointing.

Anyway. Overall I thought it was okay. My mom rated it, "Pretty good actually."

These weeks in heidenkindom:

June is over. Finally. It seemed to drag on forever.

There are a few things bringing me joy at the moment: one, I ordered The American Epic Sessions on vinyl and it is AMAZING. If you haven't seen The American Epic Sessions, it's a documentary series that aired on PBS about the earliest recordings of American folk music in the 1920s. And for the soundtrack, they recorded modern-day artists singing the songs into an original 1920s recording lathe. It is VERY cool. T Bone Burnett produced it, if you care about that sort of thing.

I bought the soundtrack on vinyl because that just felt right, and it is the best music purchase of my life. The sound is incredible. Compared to the vinyl, the mp3 tracks sound tinny and soulless. I definitely recommend this album–and the documentary–if you're a fan of folk or traditional country music!

I also discovered a new series to binge watch on Netflix: Girlboss! I never read the memoir by Sophia Amoruso, so maybe that's why I'm enjoying this show while everyone else hates it. The central complaint being, "Sophia isn't likable." And they're right, she's not: she's a legit crazy person with serious daddy issues and little to no regard for other people's feelings. But weirdly that's what I enjoy about the show? And is this the look of a woman who cares about being "likable"? No, it's the look of a woman who gets shit done.


Don't forget to join Tif in a readalong of The Hate U Give this month on Book Bloggers International.

Have a lovely week, everyone!

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Father's Day

sergio leone room at the dam

I hope you're all having a good Father's Day; or, if you don't live in the US, a pleasant Sunday!

Currently reading:

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett: Only just started this one.


in the shadow of iris
In the Shadow of Iris, starring Charlotte le Bon and Romain Duris

If you liked Gone Girl, you'll probably enjoy this movie. I did, anyway! It's in the same wheelhouse of twisty-twist, neo-noir thrillers, with a few gratuitous sex scenes thrown in because France. I don't want to talk to talk about the plot in depth too much, but the basics are that a wealthy French banker's beautiful wife disappears, and an ex-con and down-on-his-luck mechanic becomes suspect numéro un.

the lego batman movie
The LEGO Batman Movie, starring Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes

Honestly, I thought this movie was EXHAUSTING. Way too much going on and at a frenetic pace. It also wasn't as funny as I thought it would be, considering Lego Batman was the best part of the Lego Movie. It just reminded me of why I don't like superhero comics or movies, and why I dislike Batman movies in particular (he's still not as pointless and boring as Superman, though, I'll give him that much). YMMV of course.

This week[s] in heidenkindom:

Howdy there, y'all! It's been awhile since I've done one of these. The beginning of June was a challenge for me. I had to do my quarterly taxes, which never puts me in a good mood, and there were a bunch of work-related fires to put out that led to even more stress and headaches.

I did do a few fun things these past weeks: I went to a wine tasting of really good French wines; and my mom and I checked out The Western: An Epic in Art and Film at the Denver Art Museum. It was one of those exhibits that looks super-cool (see gif above), but doesn't have a lot of information. I was also disappointed in the near-total lack of discussion on the role of Indians and Hispanics in westerns. But whatever. Here are some pics!

Remington Koerner and Russell
Paintings by Charlie Russell, WH Koerner, and Frederic Remington

high noon by frank zinnemann
Dramatic entrance to the High Noon room

ei couse the captive
EI Couse, The Captive

passport by sergio leone. You won't know where to go next!
Sergio Leone's passport!

Frederic Remington, A Dash for the Timber, 1889
Frederic Remington, A Dash for the Timber, 1889

giant clint eastwood face
"There are two kinds of people in this world: those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig."

Have a fantastic rest of the week, everyone!

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