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BBC: ‘Career of Evil’.

Greetings from Harlingen, Texas! I flew in last night and am heading back to Austin in a few hours. I’m writing this from the airport, which smells like a giant toilet, so there’s that (no offense, Rio Grande Valley).

I have MUCH to discuss about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith. So, let’s not waste any time!

“Career of Evil” is the third book in the Cormoran Strike series and it’s also the final one that’s published. Because of this, I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year, waiting for the perfect time to read it, because I just didn’t want to accept that this series would be over.

But, as I was reading chapter three, I got distracted and did some Googling. Turns out, J.K. Rowling (“Galbraith” is her pen name for this series) had recently announced the title for the fourth book! Although there is no publishing date, fans anticipate it will be soon. She also said she had ideas for 6 MORE books!

This news made it much easier for me to fly right through this book. I absolutely love these! My favorite thing about them is how visual the writing is – I feel like I’m put right in with the characters and can almost hear their voices.

If that doesn’t sound psychotic enough for you, I even bought myself some cranberry-orange scones and made tea while I read. There’s nothing quite like pretending you’re in London attempting to solve the case with a private detective and his secretary! Before I get in too deep, here’s the official description of the book, from Amazon:

Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott.
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on one of the suspects, Strike and Robin delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

I won’t give anything away, but I will say that this one definitely had a more personal twist to it, which I enjoyed. Here we are, in book three, and I am still wondering if anything will ever happen between Robin and Strike (whom I imagine to look like Gerard Butler)?! I was more emotionally invested in this book, and it made me that much more thankful that we’ve got a fourth one on the way.

At least a year ago, BBC announced there would be a TV series based on these books but then I never heard much about it. Upon further investigation, it looks like we’ll be able to watch the series (which is based on all three books) this summer on Showtime – YES!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Vanderbeekers of 41st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser. I’m actually about to go read some of it now…

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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‘Love on the Weekend’…

John Mayer's new single.

John Mayer’s new single.

Last Thursday, I had the WORST day at work. It was one of those days I contemplated quitting (do other people do that, or just me?), I had to walk outside and pace the parking lot and get some deep breaths in before going back to my desk, putting in my earbuds, and just doing my work. It was only 10 am.

Although my morning had sucked, I knew I had two things to look forward to that day: 1. John Mayer was releasing his first single in THREE YEARS that afternoon, and 2. I was going to a late-night premier of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.

So, I got to work and patiently waited until 3pm, when John Mayer did a round of questions of Facebook Live. He talked a lot about writing new music, and said this would be the first album (I’m guessing it’s coming out in January) that didn’t revolve around a single event (i.e. a love affair).

He also said the single, “Love on the Weekend”, wasn’t a representation of the entire album, but he did admit he had lots of fun “dancing in his kitchen” to it. He also confirmed there will be a tour for the album, starting in the spring of 2017.

HALLELUJAH!

And then he played the song…

And then I’ve had it on repeat pretty much ever since then. I freaking love this song! And can I just say what a relief it is? I was worried we might have another “Battle Studies” on our hands.

Couple things to note here: 1. the sound. It’s not as Montana-country as “Born & Raised” (which is one of my favorite albums), but it’s not all the way back to pop, either.

The song is catchy, and frankly, it’s a great reminder of why fans fell in love with Mayer in the first time – his catchy, clever lyrics that paint a familiar picture for so many of us.

Best line?

“And I’ll be dreamin’ of the next time we can go into another seratonin overflow.”

Second best line? 

“We found the message in a bottle we were drinkin’.”

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to hearing this entire album! Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for that to happen.

A scene from 'Fantastic Beasts'.

A scene from ‘Fantastic Beasts’.

Okay, so later Thursday night I joined a friend for the premiere of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”! Honestly, I didn’t know much about this movie other than that it’s a prequel to the “Harry Potter” series, and it was written by J.K. Rowling herself.

Sounded good to me! Here’s the official scoop from IMBD: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. 

Mr. Scamander is in New York, where wizardry is very much illegal… and he just happens to have a suitcase full of tricks… and fantastic beasts. The film follows him attempts to make it through the city without getting jailed forever or killed, and he makes a few friends along the way. It is simply… for lack of a better word… FANTASTIC!

I got to see it in 3D, which I would recommend, and I’ll say my jaw was dropped for at least half of the movie. The magic was way more intense than what I recall from the Potter films (but I loved those, too).

On a final note, I kept hearing about how Johnny Depp was going to be in the second movie. Eh, he makes an appearance in this one, and it was very unexpected. Keep your eyes open for him!

A history of attitude & badassery

"Gentleness does not get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs." - Coco Chanel

“Gentleness does not get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs.” – Coco Chanel

My attitude has come into question lately, when I had an honest reaction to something that happened in a moment of stress. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten a talking to about wearing my heart on my sleeve.

And in all honesty, it is never my intention to hurt someone’s feelings or come across as being rude. I consider myself to be a caring person; I’m very giving, and in general, I think I’m pretty fun!

But, I do have opinions and I’m not afraid to share them. I also was not blessed with the gift of being eloquent – my strength is writing, not speaking, so if I have a response or a look that’s less than stellar, it comes across as an attitude problem.

Like I said, I’m not out to hurt anyone, but I’m also not in the business of walking on eggshells. So, I got to thinking about attitudes, and really, what IS the big deal with my attitude? Do I have an attitude problem? Maybe. And so what if I do? Maybe it’s time to GET OVER IT.

After having this little revelation, I was in traffic the other day, when I noticed the car in front of me had a couple of interesting bumper stickers on it. One said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Bloop!

And I know I’m really doing nothing to change history, so I thought about the women who have. Where are the ladies who’ve broken a few rules, said a few honest things, pissed a few people off – and in the end, they prevailed at something they’re passionate about?

So I found a few – and trust me, not all, because there’s a ton of women who’ve been badasses and have paved the way for us. Here are a few of them:

  • Kathrine Switzer: the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (1967), when the race;’s organizer realized a woman was running in the marathon, he attempted to tackle her! Switzer started training to run in the Boston Marathon when a male runner told her that no woman had ever ran it, and no woman could. She trained hard, paid her entry fee, and on the day of the race, she wore lipstick (refusing not to wear it). When she was attacked by the organizer, he told her to “get the hell out” of his race and attempted to rip the number off her shirt. After four hours and twenty minutes, she finished (read about her entire race experience).
  • Amelia Earhart: Many of us have heard the story of the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (1928), but Amelia Earhart was passionate about flying for her entire life. Earhart set several records, including the highestaltitude for autogyros of 18,415 feet that stood for years; on January 11, 1935, she became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific from Honolulu to Oakland, California. Later that year, she was the first to fly solo from Mexico City to Newark (read more about her accomplishments).

“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

  • Rosa Louise Mccauley Parks: This is a story I’m sure you learned in grade school, but the work of Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks is worthy of repeating. On December 1, 1955, Parks had finished a long day’s work, and boarded her bus home, sitting within the first few rows. As the bus began to fill with white people, forcing many of them to stand, the driver started asking black passengers to give up their seats. When Parks refused to give up her seat, the driver called the police, and she was arrested. That same night, bus boycotts were being organized. This event became The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which emptied city buses, and filled black-cab companies. The boycott continued, crippling city transit, forcing them to desegregate the buses just one year later.

“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” – Rosa Parks

  • Anne Frank: Born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, Anne Frank lived in Amsterdam with her family during World War II. Fleeing Nazi persecution of Jews, the family went into hiding for two years; during this time, Frank wrote about her experiences and wishes. She was 15 when the family was found and sent to the camps, where she died. Her work, The Diary of Anne Frank, has gone on to be read by millions.
  • Princess Diana:  Princess Diana became Lady Diana Spencer after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975. She married heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, on July 29, 1981. They had two sons and later divorced in 1996. Diana served a strong supporter of many charities and worked to help the homeless, people living with HIV and AIDS and children in need. Diana died in a car crash after trying to escape the paparazzi in Paris on the night of August 30, 1997.

“I like to be a free spirit. Some don’t like that, but that’s the way I am.” – Princess Diana 

  • Marie Stopes: Marie Stopes was a campaigner for women’s rights and a pioneer in the field of family planning. Today, Stopes’ legacy lives on in the form of one of the largest international family planning organisations in the world. Millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women trust Marie Stopes International to provide them with quality family planning and reproductive healthcare.
  • Coco Chanel: Fashion designer Coco Chanel, born August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France, is famous for her timeless designs, trademark suits and little black dresses. Chanel was raised in an orphanage and taught to sew. She had a brief career as a singer before opening her first clothes shop in 1910. In the 1920s, she launched her first perfume and eventually introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress, with an emphasis on making clothes that were more comfortable for women. She died on January 10, 1971.
  • Margaret Thatcher: Born on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, England, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s Conservative Party leader and in 1979 was elected prime minister, the first woman to hold the position. During her three terms, she cut social welfare programs, reduced trade union power and privatized certain industries. Thatcher resigned in 1991 due to unpopular policy and power struggles in her party.

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher

  • J.K. Rowling: While struggling to support her daughter and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on a book, the idea for which had reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990. After a number of rejections, she finally sold the book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, for the equivalent of about $4,000. By the summer of 2000, the first three Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earned approximately $480 million in three years, with over 35 million copies in print in 35 languages.

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling

  • Hillary Clinton: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician and the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States in the 2016 election. She is the first female candidate to gain that status in a major American political party. She served as the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, the junior United States Senator representing New York from 2001 to 2009, First Lady of the United States during the presidency of Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001, and First Lady of Arkansas during the governorship of Bill Clinton from 1979 to 1981 and from 1983 to 1992.

And so, perhaps this can serve as a little Monday Motivation for you – not to have an attitude problem, but to do YOU, to stand up for yourself when you need to, and to keep your chin up when the going gets tough.

See what Holly is up to today by following her on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 – the chances are likely she’s just hanging out with Blanche, but you never know!

Pic of the Week.

So, it’s only been officially summer for… what… a week? But now that July 4 is right around the corner, I all of the sudden feel like the summer is about to end! Summers in my previous life — when I had a desk job that allowed for free weekends — meant hours at the pool, reading.

In those days, I’d load up a cooler, put on my swimsuit, and walk to my apartment complex’s pool from about 10 am until the sun went down. I went through 1-2 books a week, and over the course of the year, I’d read around 30 books.

It was one (of many) luxuries I took for granted.

In these last 8 months, I haven’t had mush time to read, so I’ve been stuck reading Donna Tartt’s, “The Goldfinch,” — which is very good, but also, very long.

But, like many businesses, freelance writing gigs slow down a little in the summer. And while that means less money, it also means less work, and more free time. So, I’ve decided to pick up my old habits, and although I haven’t spent hours at the pool, I’ve cracked open “The Goldfinch,” and can at least see the ending is near.

I also took a look at my reading list. There are books in my apartment I’ve yet to read — books I’ve borrowed, books given to me, and books from Santa. And in my email was also a Christmas gift remaining from my mom: a Barnes and Noble gift card!

So, I used the gift card to treat myself to two books I hope to read before the summer sun sets: The Husband’s Secret by Lynne Moriarty and The Silkworm by Roberth Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).

Here’s what the back of “The Husband’s Secret says, “At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that is not meant to be read…

My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.”

And here’s the info on “The Silkworm” from the back of the book, “

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days–as he has done before–and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives–meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.
When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…
A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, THE SILKWORM is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant, Robin Ellacott.”
So… they both sound mysteriously AWESOME! I’m hoping my two new purchases will force me to make some time for myself to read, even if it’s just 30 minutes each day. What are you reading this summer?