weekly wrap-up 12/21: two-week edition!

Here we are, another week down! This wrap-up is going to be for the past two weeks since last Sunday Cassie and I announced something huge! :)

How was your week? Mine involved last minute gifts (still need to get a few more!) and birthdays – a whirlwind of running around and dodging other shoppers (being tiny works in my favor here). I’m not going to be sad when the holidays are over. Not one bit. Are you someone who does all your shopping early to get it out of the way and are you like me and wait until you only have a few minutes left?

FOR REVIEW
Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman (Lady Montfort Mystery #1) by Tessa Arlen
Y’all know about my love for cozy mysteries, so when this one showed up at my door I did a little happy dance! It’s a Downton Abbey-esque world full of upstairs and downstairs – until the murder. When her nephew’s murder leads to her son, Lady Montfort’s costume ball is at stake. She enlists the help of her housekeeper and together they track down the killer. Thank you, Minotaur!

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory
One of my first reviews was for Raising Stony Mayhall and since then I’ve been itching to read more of his work! This one is described as a “Lovecraftian adventure of a teenage boy searching for his mother, and the macabre creatures he encounters” and that’s all I need. Thank you, Tor!

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis
Millie Bird is seven years old when her father dies and her mother leaves her in a department store. Agatha Pantha has not left her house in years, not since the death of her husband (a man she didn’t even like all that much). Karl the Touch Typist lost himself following the death of his wife. Now he’s on the run after breaking out of his nursing home. Lost & Found weaves these three lives together and my goodness, you guys it’s lovely. Definitely a one-sitting read! Thank you, Dutton!

WON
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Anna was a good wife, mostly. That line instantly grabbed me and, while this doesn’t seem like my typical read (bored American housewife living in Switzerland with her husband) I’m willing to give it a shot. Especially after a reviewer compared Essbaum’s writing to Jojo Moyes’! SOLD. Thank you, Random House!

Have you heard about any of these?? What books did YOU get this week?

In Case You Missed It
I rambled about what I’ve been watching on Netflix and I’m ALWAYS open to recs!

Weekend links include more Harry Potter, a super expensive photograph, and the Best/Worst Red Carpet Moments!

We FINALLY spill the beans on what #hailtotheking is all about: A year-long Stephen King reading challenge!! Cassie and I are both beyond excited about this and it’s seriously no pressure and low-key. You pick the number of books/short stories you want to read and that’s it! Throughout the year we’ll have giveaways (Cassie currently has one for two Audible credits!), twitter chats, and all sorts of King-y goodness!

When Hannah and Kelly announced a re-read challenge I couldn’t resist. I’ve been wanting to re-read old favorites but never made time for them. Hopefully this is the motivation I need!

I rounded-up some unreviewed books. A favorite author didn’t quite deliver and a historical fiction was a quick DNF.

And, lastly, PART TWO of my top reads for 2014! Like Part One, I separated it into 2014 novels with highlights for pre-2014 and included a few 2015 novels I’ve already read!

Leah’s favorite reads of 2014 – PART TWO!

Aaaand here we are! Part dos. Looking through both lists, I’m going to say part one was way better in terms of 2014 releases, but this part has some pretty fantastic pre-2014 novels I read! To see what books I loved earlier in the year, head over to part one.




ONE PLUS ONE | JOJO MOYES + my review
With four Jojo novels under my belt I think it’s safe to say I’ve found an author I would follow to the moon and back. One Plus One follows a single mother, her children: a loner son and math whiz daughter, one slobbery dog, and a stranger they meet on the way to a math competition. As with all of her novels, Jojo takes these characters and breathes life into them and I have yet to make it through one of her novels dry-eyed!

DEAR DAUGHTER | ELIZABETH LITTLE + my review
An It Girl had been found guilty of her socialite mother’s death. Ten years later, she’s released on a technicality and it’s a media frenzy: everyone wants a piece of Janie – especially those who believe she’s getting away with murder. To be honest, Janie has no idea if she really killed her mother or not but she knows the answers all lie in one tiny South Dakota town. Dear Daughter was a fantastic mystery/thriller! My favorite part? After each chapter there are texts or recordings or blog entries that give just a little peak into what’s going on.

THE AWAKENING OF MISS PRIM | NATALIA SANMARTIN FENOLLERA + my review
The best words to describe Miss Prim are quirky, charming, whimsical. In my review I dubbed this book The Sound of Music-meets-The Village. Totally insane, right? BUT IT WORKS. A woman applies for a position as personal librarian for a wealthy man – never named, always called The Man in the Wingchair – and discovers all the secrets this sleepy French town holds. Miss Prim takes place in the present day, but could EASILY be an old-timey novel set centuries ago. There’s a dream-like quality to it that I loved and I’m so disheartened there wasn’t more buzz around this delightful little story!

BROWN GIRL DREAMING | JACQUELINE WOODSON + my review
Read this memoir and you won’t be at all surprised by the awards/attention it’s receiving! Woodson tells the tale of her childhood, growing up in the still-segregated South, moving up North with her political activist mother. Death, race, and religion are all discussed openly and honestly and I was both shocked and heartbroken by what her daily life consisted of. Because its written in verse, brown girl dreaming can be read in an hour so there’s really no excuse here. This novel was beautiful and powerful.

2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS | MARIE-HELENE BERTINO + my review
Another novel that somehow slipped under the radar. Cat’s Pajamas is a story told in 24 hours and follows the owner of a jazz club, an elementary school teacher, and hands-down the sassiest little girl I’ve ever come across. On Christmas Eve their lives intersect and the short journey was lovely. This is yet another novel that seems to hang in limbo as far as the time period. Were it not for a throwaway line toward the end about a cell phone, I would have been completely convinced this story took place in the 30s or 40s.

THE TRAITOR’S WIFE | ALLISON PATAKI + my review
Pataki is a completely new-to-me author but I’ve fallen hard for her stories. The Traitor’s Wife is her debut and follows Peggy Shippen, socialite who married Benedict Arnold and had a rather large role in the Revolution. I had originally borrowed this from my library, but the second I finished I had ordered a copy to own – it’s that good! Pataki puts a mind-boggling amount of research into her novels and I truly felt as though I was right there in the colonies. The true mark of a great historical fiction novel is whether or not I’m intrigued enough to do further reading/research on my own. Luckily for me, Pataki includes a fantastic list of novels/biographies! You’ll be seeing her again later in the post (making her the only author to be featured here twice!

VISIONS (CAINSVILLE #2) | KELLEY ARMSTRONG + my review
I don’t read much urban fiction, so to see one included on this list is saying a lot! While on vacation I read Visions (along with the first in the series, Omens) and absolutely adored it. Olivia is living the high life: she’s the heir to a department store chain and her fiance has his sights set on running for office. Everything changes the day she discovers that, not only is she adopted, but her biological parents are the infamous Larsens, a couple who had gone on a serial-killing spree. Olivia’s search for answers opens up a new world steeped in mythology and superstitions. And you’re going to want to brush up on your Welsh!

THE SILENT SISTER | DIANE CHAMBERLAIN + my review
Sometimes I need a good kick in the pants for dragging my feet so long when it comes to certain authors. Chamberlain always felt like a writer for a much older audience, I have no idea why! So because of that I kept putting her off and avoiding her novels. When I received a copy of The Silent Sister I was a little hesitant, but went for it and, my goodness I’ve got some catching up to do!! This book seriously has it all: a beloved oldest daughter committed suicide – or, at least that was what Riley had always believed. When she cleans out her father’s house she begins to wonder just what went on that night twenty years ago and could her sister possibly still be alive? Multiple narratives are my jam and I loved seeing the story through Lisa’s eyes and I won’t spoil it but I’ll just say in my review I compared this novel to a Lifetime movie. And not in a bad way.


ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE (FINISHING SCHOOL #1) | GAIL CARRIGER + my review
Okay, technically this could be for both the first novel and its sequel, Curtsies & Conspiracies, which I read immediately after (NEVER happens). A steampunk YA series where finishing school is taken literally. These high society girls are taught the art of knife-fighting, poisoning, fainting just so…everything a young intelligencer needs to know. There are vampires and werewolves as well and everything came together so beautifully – Sophronia’s sass, this new world, good Lord the CHARACTER NAMES – that I devoured both books in record time. I love that each book ages with the girls and eagerly look forward to reading the latest, Waistcoats & Weaponry! ALSO! Carriger’s adult series seems to feature some of the same characters, so y’all know I’ll be reading those!

GLOW | JESSICA MARIA TUCCELLI + my review
Sometimes books find me, rather than the other way around. Or, in this case, I suppose it was GoodReads who discovered it. In a new feature, I took a look at novels GR recommends and this was one that instantly caught my eye. Southern fiction at its finest, Glow is a family saga spanning a century, from just before the Civil War to the 1940s. An attack leaves a mother frightened for her child and she puts her on a bus headed for her family’s hometown. When the girl doesn’t show up, however, we see just how deep the family’s roots have grown. The entire time I was reading this one I was so entranced and kept thinking back to Steal the North (one of my ALL-TIME favs and a top pick from part one!). Glow is one of those novels that is so skillfully crafted that I struggle to find just the right words to say. This is a novel to revisit time and time again.


WEST OF SUNSET | STEWART O’NAN
For someone who’s such a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald (oh, hello, perhaps you’ve noticed this blog’s name?) I have to admit I don’t know a whole lot about his later life. West of Sunset is an extremely well-researched look into Fitzgerald’s final three years, years he spent as a struggling screenwriter in Hollywood. Gone are the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age, here we see an alcoholic man in his 40s, unable to keep a job or pay his bills. Although this was a heartbreaking novel, I still enjoyed it immensely and there are so many great figures gracing its pages: Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Parker, my boy Papa Hemingway.

THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS | ALLISON PATAKI
Ms. Pataki shines just as much in her sophomore novel as she did in The Traitor’s Wife. This time, instead of Revolutionary-era America, the story takes place in the 1850s in the Hapsburg Court. I fell head over heels for these characters, although I spoiled myself a little bit – I DIDN’T MEAN TO! I only meant to read more about some of the royals and ended up reading all about their fates. Let’s just say it doesn’t end happily for anyone involved. Even still I ADORED this book and have been on a Hapsburg kick for a good month now because of it! If you’re a fan of historical fiction, Allison Pataki is a name you NEED to know.

That wraps up my Top Reads of 2014! What were YOUR favorite books this year?? Anything coming out next year you can’t wait to read?

unreviewed round-up

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
Pub. Date: 1937
Source: Bought
Summary: Lord Copper, newspaper magnate and proprietor of the “Daily Beast”, has always prided himself on his intuitive flair for spotting ace reporters. That is not to say he has not made the odd blunder, however, and may in a moment of weakness make another. Acting on a dinner-party tip from Mrs Algernon Smith, he feels convinced that he has hit on just the chap to cover a promising little war in the African Republic of Ishmaelia.
Genre: Fiction, Satire
Recommended for: Fans of dark comedies who can get past 1930s racial overtones

Y’all know I love me some Evelyn Waugh! I had read this one as part of a week-long celebration I had in the works for his birthday, but never got around to it. That said, I’m still hoping to do some sort of Waugh Week in the future! Scoop is super short and, at times, incredibly funny – to the point where I was actually laughing out loud. That said, this one ultimately wasn’t my favorite of Waugh’s.

Scoop is Waugh’s take on newspapers and journalism, largely paralleling his own experiences. There’s a massive story in the Ishmaelian war and the Daily Beast needs just the right man for the job. John Boot, a famous novelist, is selected for the task, but in a rather hilarious mix-up, his distant cousin (who just happens to be a nature writer for the paper), William Boot, receives word that he’ll be traveling to the war-torn nation.

Someday I’d like to revisit this novel and see if my feelings have changed. It truly was incredibly funny and I loved the thrown-in references to Wodehouse, but certain scenes made me extremely uncomfortable. I understand that this novel was written in the ’30s and views were different decades ago, but the descriptions and word choices used for the Ishmaelians were too much for me.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
Pub. Date: December 30, 2014
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Ballantine Books!)
Summary: London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.

Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Epistolary Novel
Recommended for: Readers already familiar with these historical figures who won’t be confused by the lack of introductions

I love historical fiction. LOVE it. Even better is when it’s biographical fiction, taking real figures from history and telling their story. When it comes to this type of fiction, I’m always open to reading about the lives of people I’m not entirely familiar with. Vanessa and Her Sister revolves around Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, and their group of friends. I know virtually nothing about these people – I have never read any of Forster’s or Woolf’s novels – but I was eager to discover just who this Bloomsbury Group was.

The first few pages should have sounded the alarms. Multiple pages are dedicated to explaining who the characters are, what their relationships are to the others involved, etc. This went on for numerous pages. At first that delighted me – I love when a cast of characters is presented. However, had I known that would have been my only reference for keeping these characters straight, I would have studied it closer – and perhaps jotted down notes!

Vanessa and Her Sister is an epistolary novel – which I hadn’t realized and didn’t garner from the summary. If I knew this story was going to be told through Vanessa’s diary entries, I doubt I would have requested a review copy. Because Vanessa knows these people, she never introduces them, so if you’re a reader like me who doesn’t know the first thing about these figures, you’re out of luck. Not only could I not keep the characters straight, but I also had a hard time following the story. Epistolary fiction can be hit-or-miss with me: I had to force my way through Dracula, but I loved The Supernatural Enhancements and I’m a Dear America fiend. Vanessa and Her Sister, unfortunately, was a big ol’ miss. Vanessa’s entries were so stilted it was a bit jarring and a little overwhelming. I never got a feel for the setting, characters, or story and stopped reading about just a few chapters.

on re-reading

Prior to blogging, there was nothing I enjoyed more than re-reading! I loved revisiting worlds, spending hours lost with these characters I cherished. The series I have read and re-read the most is definitely Harry Potter, and I’m positive that’s the case for a lot of readers. With each new release I would go back and re-read the entire series. It hurts me to say I haven’t done that since the release of Deathly Hallows. Almost 8 years.

Other favorite re-reads are Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (this had always been a yearly re-read for me and to this day I still have theories about just who the forgotten god could be!) along with Good Omens which he co-authored with Terry Pratchett.

Time and time again I would pick up Sellevision, Augusten Burroughs’ take on home shopping channels. It’s delightfully cynical and zany and – best of all – can easily be read in one sitting. Perfect re-read material!

Since blogging, however, I just haven’t found (or, admittedly, made) time for novels I have already read, no matter how much I love them. I would LOVE to go back and binge on Redwall or The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (two series I read in middle school and thought the world of). Classics like East of Eden and A Farewell to Arms have been sitting on my shelves for years, despite falling hard for them the first time around.

When Hannah and Kelly broke the news that they’d be hosting a re-read challenge for 2015 I thought this was it, this is my chance to finally get off my butt and read those books I have been wanting to revisit for years. While I’m still a little hesitant to go all-in, I absolutely, definitely want to do this! Therefore I’m going to set my goal on the low side: 3-5 books. I think this is a totally doable number, and gives me a little wiggle room if I feel like bumping it up a bit!

#hailtotheking: A Year With Stephen King!


Cassie’s got all the photoshop skills here, not me!

It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here!! For a while now Cassie and I have been trying to come up with a fun joint feature. One day it suddenly dawned on us: Stephen King. Let us present to you Hail to the King, a year-long Stephen King reading challenge! You can read as much as you want and there’s totally no pressure whatsoever!

Throughout the year we’ll have events like:

  • SPECIAL POSTS for Stephen King’s birthday, Halloween, the halfway mark, and the final stretch!
  • GIVEAWAYS, because obvs!
  • CHECK-IN POSTS where you can celebrate your progress, rant over a character you’re hating, and see how everyone else is doing!
  • TWITTER CHATS with our own special hashtag, #hailtotheking

So how does it all work?
All you have to do is sign up and answer the questions in your intro post along with your goals or what level you’re aiming for, then read your horror-loving heart out! Easy peasy! Curious about your options? His website has a list of all of his work and here’s his Amazon page for all your book needs!

The Levels

  • SCAREDY CAT: 1-3 Novels or Short Stories
  • NEED A NIGHT LIGHT: 4-7 Novels or Short Stories
  • NO MONSTERS UNDER MY BED: 8-11 Novels or Short Stories
  • DAREDEVIL: 12-15 Novels or Short Stories
  • FEARLESS: 16+

The Questions

  • What got you into Stephen King?
  • How long have you been a fan? Or are you a newbie?
  • First King book you read? (or plan to!) Did you like it?
  • Level you’re aiming for!

Sign Ups!
Simply head over to Cassie’s post! Sign-ups are open until the end of January. GO GO GO!

weekend links 12/13


1833, Leonid meteor shower | via

NEW HARRY POTTER STORIES!! Through Pottermore, JKR will be releasing twelve short ‘moments,’ and the first two are already out!

This photograph now holds the record for being the most expensive photograph ever sold. The new owner dished out a cool $6.5 million, yes with an M, for Phantom. I don’t know, guys.. maybe I just don’t have the eye for photography. While it’s certainly a stunning photo, spending over $6 million seems a little extreme.

My favorite Fug Girls compiled a great slideshow (full of cracktastic comments) of 2014’s Best and Worst Red Carpet Moments.

I think we’re all in agreement that Malala is an outstanding young women, yes? You can read her Nobel speech in its entirety. Honestly, I wanted to find a part to quote here to highlight, but every sentence is so powerful (and I totally giggled when she talks about how she’s probably the only recipient of the prize who still fights with her siblings). Go read this speech.

Recently Scholastic unveiled the results of a poll they did about what kids/young adults look for in books. I’m not at all surprised that 70% said humor. They also highlight answers from different age groups and I love that kids aged 9-11 are interested in mysteries. As a bookseller I deal with MG/YA readers all day and a huge portion of them are into mysteries.

The Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight and everything you need to know can be found here! 2 A.M. seems to be the best time for any kind of stargazing – hopefully Matt won’t get too upset by the alarm! :D

SO TOMORROW! There won’t be a weekly wrap-up post (instead next Sunday will be a two-week edition – LOTS of goodies!) because I’ve got a pretty exciting announcement!

Recently Watched: documentaries, French flicks, + potential WWIII!

It’s no secret that I’m a Netflix fanatic. I live and breathe my streaming shows and I want to share a few films I’ve been watching lately!

Populaire | 2012
Starring: Romain Duris, Déborah François
Spring, 1958: 21-year-old Rose Pamphyle lives with her grouchy widower father who runs the village store. Engaged to the son of the local mechanic, she seems destined for the quiet, drudgery-filled life of a housewife. But that’s not the life Rose longs for. When she travels to Lisieux in Normandy, where charismatic insurance agency boss Louis Echard is advertising for a secretary, the ensuing interview is a disaster. But Rose reveals a special gift – she can type at extraordinary speed. Unwittingly, the young woman awakens the dormant sports fan in Louis. If she wants the job she’ll have to compete in a speed typing competition. Whatever sacrifices Rose must make to reach the top, Louis declares himself her trainer. He’ll turn her into the fastest girl not only in the country, but in the world! But a love of sport doesn’t always mix well with love itself.
Watch the trailer

Matt and I share a Netflix account, meaning all his boring political documentaries (hi, honey, they’re wonderful I promise!) get mixed in with my cutesy rom-coms and British dramas. MEANING a lot of what I stick in our queue are things to watch on my own. Populaire was a film I came across ages ago and one that always catches my eye whenever I scroll through my options. I finally had the house to myself for the day and decided it was time! It was a yucky grey, overcast day and what better way to pass the time than with an adorable French flick?

Practically raised on subtitled shows, I had no problem whatsoever with the film being (almost) entirely in French. Even if you’re not usually the type of person who watches foreign films, I highly recommend giving this one a try! A young and innocent girl applies for a secretary position and is seconds away from being turned down when she pulls all the stops and reveals her hidden talent: she’s a wizard at typing. Her fingers practically become nothing but a blur as she races over the keys and she’s instantly hired. Naturally her new boss wants to cash in on her talent and enters her into a speed typing contest (there’s a hilariously cute Rocky-esque training montage!).

And OF COURSE since this is a romance, there’s that added bit of tension between them which I adored. Even though he’s a bit older than her they had a ton of chemistry and some seriously wonderful (and wonderfully awkward) moments. Also, because this takes place in the 1950s, the clothing is to die for! I really, really loved this one and once it was over I did a search to see what other movies these actors star in! (also-also, the opening credits are fantastic and reminded me of 101 Dalmatians!)

The Brass Teapot | 2012
Starring: Juno Temple, Michael Angarano, Alexis Bledel
Once voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” Alice struggles to make ends meet while her friends enjoy the good life. Her husband John, neurotic and riddled with phobias, just wants to get the bills paid. But an accident leads them to a roadside antique shop where Alice is spontaneously drawn to a mysterious brass teapot. It isn’t long before they realize that this is no ordinary teapot and that perhaps they have found the answer to all of their financial woes.
Watch the trailer

Another movie that had been in my queue forever (I feel like I’m going to be saying that a lot!). A young couple are madly in love, but aren’t getting anywhere in life: Alice can’t seem to land a job and John was just laid off. The rent is due and they’re at their wit’s end when they literally stumble into a roadside antique shop. There Alice is drawn toward a teapot, completely unaware at how it will change their lives. See, this isn’t just any teapot. No, this teapot dishes out cold hard cash. All you need to do is get roughed up a bit. A burn from a curling iron might be worth a few $20s. A drunken bar brawl? Well that might be worth a little more.

Soon the two are living the high life, the life they always wanted to live, only to discover they aren’t the only ones who know about the teapot – and is all the pain really worth it?

Another super cute, brain fluff of a movie. There’s not a whole lot of substance to this one, but it doesn’t suffer much for it. While it does kind of lose steam toward the end and head off to Crazyville and become completely predictable (you can basically tell the entire story before you even start watching), I still enjoyed this one a lot! Plus Juno’s got some insanely cute clothes.

How I Live Now | 2013
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, George MacKay
Set in the near-future UK, Ronan plays Daisy, an American teenager sent to stay with relatives in the English countryside. Initially withdrawn and alienated, she begins to warm up to her charming surroundings, and strikes up a romance with the handsome Edmund (George MacKay). But on the fringes of their idyllic summer days are tense news reports of an escalating conflict in Europe. As the UK falls into a violent, chaotic military state, Daisy finds herself hiding and fighting to survive.
Watch the trailer

An angsty American teen heads to England to spend the summer with her relatives in the countryside. Just as she’s beginning to open up to her cousins, the military moves in and the UK finds itself shut down. Saoirse is absolutely fantastic and I was in the mood for more of her work (I had first seen her in The Lovely Bones and adored her!).

How I Live Now is not quite apocalyptic, not exactly dystopian, but definitely on its way there. What was great – and even a bit scary – about this movie was just how easily I could picture this happening. The film takes place in the very near future, extremely close to the present day. Then a virtual lockdown is enforced and the UK is driven into a military state and it was all very thrilling and horrifying.

Underneath the war, this movie is about these kids. Daisy and her cousins and I loved the character exploration. If you’re familiar with the kind of books I enjoy, you know I’m a total sucker for Big Events that take a backseat to the inner workings of the characters’ lives: in The Age of Miracles, the Earth’s rotation begins to slow, but the story details a little girl’s life and how she loses a best friend and buys her first bra. Golden State takes place on the day California makes a vote on whether or not to secede from the Union, but the real story focuses on a broken marriage. So I knew right from the start How I Live Now was going to be a movie for me. Bonus points for Saoirse’s SPECTACULAR wardrobe (seriously, when WWIII hits I hope I look half as fabulous) and the great soundtrack (apparently Amanda Palmer is linked to it, so that comes as no surprise).

Running From Crazy | 2013
Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Margaux Hemingway, Langley Hemingway
‘Running from Crazy’ is a documentary examining the personal journey of model and actress Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she strives for a greater understanding of her family history of suicide and mental illness. Through stunning archival footage of the three Hemingway sisters and intimate moments with Mariel herself, the film examines the remarkable though often heartbreaking Hemingway legacy. As Mariel comes to terms with the tragedies of her family’s past that have shaped the course of her life, deeply hidden secrets are revealed and truths emerge. Through it all, Mariel finds a way to overcome a similar fate for herself and her daughters, brings awareness to an issue she’s deeply passionate about, and discovers an inner strength and peace.
Watch the trailer

Have you ever read a book that affected you so deeply it completely dictates your entire mood for the day? I finished Stewart O’Nan’s upcoming West of Sunset yesterday and the entire day I felt so down and depressed. That novel tells the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final years, years spent in Hollywood where he struggled to find work. Gone are the days of endless parties and carefree spending. Now he has to borrow cash from what few friends he has left. The whole thing was so heartbreaking, and throughout the novel there were scenes with Ernest Hemingway. I’m a huge fan of Papa and once I finished the novel I was craving his work. Sadly, Netflix doesn’t have much in the way of his novel’s adaptations and it was by sheer chance Running From Crazy popped up.

Mariel Hemingway is Ernest’s granddaughter, though he killed himself before she was born. Through interviews and archival footage, Mariel discusses the Hemingway Legacy – or the Hemingway Curse, if you will – and I found myself sobbing multiple times. Mental illness ran rampant throughout her family (seven family members committed suicide) and she admits she kept a lot of that hidden from her daughters. She also admits just how scared she is for her children.

I knew her sister Margaux was a model and actress, but that’s about it for Ernest’s descendants. Mariel opens up about her childhood – until she and her sisters were adults they had no idea just how famous their grandfather was or that he killed himself (on the occasion their father even discussed it, they were always told Ernest’s death had been an accident). Despite growing up in the public eye, these girls were incredible sheltered and exceptionally (and heartbreakingly) good at hiding what really went on in their home.

These days Mariel is a fierce advocate for suicide awareness and is very active in bringing attention to a sensitive and tough subject. Running From Crazy was powerful and raw and a complete change from the happy-go-lucky films I’ve been watching. If you’re looking for a documentary that’s eye-opening this is the one.