Sweet Valley High #24 – Memories – “The Wakefield twins’ older brother, Steven, hasn’t dated anyone since his girlfriend died of leukaemia. He can’t even look at another girl without thinking of his beloved Tricia. But Steven is drawn to Cara Walker. Sweet Valley’s biggest flirt and gossip has changed. Her parents have divorced, and her father and brother have moved away. Cara understands the pain of losing someone. When Tricia’s sister Betsy sees Steven and Cara dancing together at a party, she accuses Steven of forgetting about Tricia. Steven is torn by Betsy’s bitter accusation. He can’t deny his attraction to Cara. But how can he ever love another girl after Tricia?”
Sweet Valley High #25 – Nowhere to Run – “Elizabeth Wakefield is surprised when Emily Mayer tells her she wants to join the school newspaper. After all, Emily’s a musician, not a writer. Why would The Droids’ crack drummer turn to writing, especially when the band is so popular? Emily confides to Elizabeth that she’s having problems at home. Her stepmother has imposed a strict curfew and gets annoyed whenever Emily practices her drumming. What’s worse, Emily’s father seems to agree with his new wife. Emily’s certain her stepmother is out to get her – and she’s succeeding. Can Elizabeth help Emily before the situation at the Mayer home reaches the breaking point?”
Sweet Valley University #21 – For the Love of Ryan – “Ryan Taylor is a hunk with an attitude. He’s learned about life the hard way, and now no ties can hold him down – especially the emotional kind. But will his troubled past keep him from the Wakefield twin he secretly desires? Jessica Wakefield always gets what she wants. And now she wants head lifeguard Ryan Taylor. Can Jessica beat the competition and swim her way into Ryan’s heart? Elizabeth Wakefield can’t do anything right! And if she messes up one more time, she won’t make lifeguard this year. Elizabeth needs to prove she can work harder than anyone else. But if gorgeous Ryan Taylor doesn’t cut her a break soon, she may drown in the attempt.”
Sweet Valley University – Super Thriller #4 – The House of Death – “Lila Fowler is trapped in a collapsed building. When she emerges from a coma, will a brilliant young psychiatrist help her build a new life – or turn her dreams to rubble? Porter Davis is thrilled to have Lila under his spell. And the more deeply he controls her mind, the more villainous his plans for her become. Bruce Patman knows Porter Davis is bad news, but Lila refuses to heed Bruce’s warnings. Can Bruce make Lila see through Porter’s perfect facade before it’s too late? Jessica Wakefield feels bad that Tom Watts lost his dorm room in the earthquake – but that doesn’t mean she wants him for a roommate. Will Jessica make Elizabeth choose between her boyfriend and her twin sister?”
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay – “Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road. One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: ‘Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.'”
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse – “Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel. An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept. Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic. Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in…”
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – “Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.”
The Survivors by Jane Harper – “Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on a single day when a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that haunts him still resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge in the murder investigation that follows. A sunken wreck, a missing girl and questions that have never washed away…”
Mad Men [ season 2 ] – This show was so consistently good that I can’t think of a specific season that stands out above the rest. This season was no exception, it was beautiful from start to finish. One highlight this season for me was being able to watch Peggy come out of her shell all over again. Knowing what’s to come in her character arc makes it more enjoyable seeing her development from the beginning.
The West Wing [ season 2 ] – This is another show that felt consistently good throughout the entirety of the series, and this was another strong season with a powerful finale.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK [ season 2 ] – This was such a fun season and the cast this year was full of a lot of memorable Queens. I did not see that ending coming though, and was quite disappointed with who was crowned the winner this season. Despite that, it was a great season overall and often made me laugh out loud. Such a good balm for the soul.
Sweet Valley High #60 – That Fatal Night – “Terri Adams loves football. In fact, she’s one of the Sweet Valley Gladiator’s biggest fans. She’s also the biggest fan of Ken Matthews, the team’s quarterback. Terri thinks Ken has everything going for him – he’s good-looking and popular, and he’s led the Gladiators to an undefeated season. Then one rainy night, Ken is in a terrible car accident that leaves him blind. His football career is over, and even worse, his friends are so uncomfortable about his blindness they avoid him. Ken would be miserable if it weren’t for Terri. She’s the one person who is always there when he needs her. But when Ken realizes he’s falling in love with her, he’s convinced that she could never return his feelings. Can Ken and Terri ever be more than friends?”
Sweet Valley High #61 – Boy Trouble – “Patty Gilbert is elated when she finds out that her boyfriend, Jim Hollis is coming home from college for a weekend visit. But then she finds out that her older sister, Jana, is coming to visit the same weekend, and she tells Jim she’ll have to spend most of her time with her family. He blows up at her, and before Patty knows what’s happening, they have a huge fight and break up. Patty feels awful, but at least she knows she’ll be able to confide in her sister. As soon as Jana walks in the door, however, she announces that she’s getting married in two weeks! Jana’s so excited about the wedding plans that she has no time for Patty’s problems. Patty feels she’s lost her boyfriend because of Jana. When Patty accuses her sister of being selfish, they have a huge fight. Now it looks as if Patty has lost both her sister and her boyfriend!”
Sweet Valley High #62 – Who’s Who? – “Jessica Wakefield has a fantastic idea! She’s bored with all the guys at Sweet Valley High, so a computer dating service seems like the perfect way to spice up her love life – especially when she invents two new sparkling personalities to help her out! Jessica becomes sophisticated Daniella Fromage and also Magenta Galaxy, a wild rocker with a passion for anything hot. The two guys she gets set up with seem to be exactly what she wanted. With the reluctant help of her twin sister, Elizabeth, Jessica must somehow manage to juggle them both. Who will finally meet her perfect match – Daniella, Magenta…or Jessica?”
Sweet Valley High #63 – The New Elizabeth – “If one more person calls Elizabeth Wakefield responsible or predictable, she’ll scream! In an effort to prove that she can be as adventurous as Jessica, her daring identical twin, Elizabeth secretly decides to take up surfing. That will show her friends she knows how to take risks. But from the start, Elizabeth’s new hobby causes problems. She has a sneaking suspicion that her surfing instructor is falling in love with her. And even worse, she has to lie to her steady boyfriend, Todd, in order to keep her surfing a surprise. Todd’s becoming suspicious and angry — and Elizabeth is beginning to wonder if a daredevil reputation is worth the trouble after all.”
Booksmart – I was flicking through Netflix and saw this had landed, and I was so excited to finally watch it. This was such a joy. I was completely immersed in the film from start to finish, there were some laugh out loud moments, and some genuinely heart warming ones too. A definite recommend.
The Purge – I had put off watching this for years, because I thought the theme of home invasion would really disturb me… turns out, it didn’t. I actually really enjoyed this, and didn’t find it too scary at all. The concept, on the other hand, terrifies me. There is no way I could live comfortably in a world where the Purge took place once a year. No thank you.
The Purge: Anarchy – I carried on with the Purge series and jumped into the second film right after the first. The most terrifying part of this one for me was the concept of accidentally getting stuck outside during the purge. I was getting physical anxiety symptoms watching two characters dawdling as they headed home for purge night. I’d be home with hours to spare, that’s for sure.
Walk The Line – I love Joaquin Phoenix, so this had been on my ‘to-watch’ list for a long time. I’ve watched a few musical biopics and this wasn’t my favourite, but I still felt like it was a really strong performance from Joaquin.
The Purge: Election Year – Can you tell I was on a bit of a ‘Purge’ kick this month? This felt more like an action movie than a horror, and I really enjoyed the way they tied everything into the plot of the third (and final?) film.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters – I knew that we were intending to see the latest Godzilla movie in theatres this month, so figured I should watch the second film in anticipation of that. I love the Godzilla films, and this one had the added benefit of having Bradley Whitford as a cast member, which boosted my enjoyment levels by about 2000%.
Godzilla vs Kong – I had been wanting to see this movie since I first saw the trailer what feels like years ago, and it did not disappoint. It was a lot of fun, and absolute nonsense, and exactly what I was in the mood for. My only complaint is that going to see a movie in an actual theatre is so loud these days. I’m not sure if that’s a post-pandemic thing or I’m just getting old.
Alice in Wonderland – This was my go-to Disney movie as a child. So much so that I think I drove my family crazy with how much I watched it (at least every day, I think). It’s now one of those comfort movies that I can chuck on and lose myself in, even though it’s a kids movie. I was feeling quite sick and stressed when I watched this, and it was a bit of a balm for the soul.
That Thing You Do? – I saw this pop up on Disney+ and was in the mood for something light-hearted and fun, so this was perfect. It was written and directed (and starred) Tom Hanks, who I love, and ended up being a perfect feel good Friday night movie. I’ve had the title song in my head ever since watching, so be warned.
Thank You For Smoking – We have been watching a lot of Mad Men lately, and it reminded me of this film. This was still a good watch, and relevant even though it’s quite dated by now. The cast was epic and there were a few laugh out loud moments. Definitely worth a watch.