Monday, May 28, 2018

Life Lately | May

Another hurried month, another slapped together compilation of what I've been up to... which has honestly not been much. As work has picked up with the organization's conference coming up this next week, I've devoted weekends and free time more to the simple things than to big traveling plans. I went to a Nationals game (my first!), spontaneously grabbed dinner and coffee with friends, got to know a neighbor a little better (you're all as surprised as I am that I actually talk to someone else in my building), and dove into some good reads. 

June is already packed with plans -- two weekend trips to Raleigh, a couple of concerts, and tentative beach plans -- so I'm happy to have May be a slower month before the summer truly kicks off.

Books //

As with April, I'm including a few of my favorite books from the month here rather than writing them all down in a separate post. If you're interested in a full list of reads, you can follow me on Goodreads here.

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley
A slow-burning (but worthwhile), wonderfully written piece of historical fiction. Set largely in Peru in 1860, The Bedlam Stacks follows Merrick Tremayne, an ex-East India Company smuggler who's sent to find quinine deep in Peru. The novel is part adventure tale, part magical realism, but the most intriguing part is the growing friendship between Merrick and Raphael, a local priest.

Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir by John Banville
Having never been to Dublin before nor ever having read any of Banville's novels, I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. I thought -- and was correct in thinking -- it would be a series of short histories of various places of note in Dublin, but I wasn't expecting the wonderfully related personal history of Banville's experience with the city. Beginning in Banville's youth, when he would visit every year on his birthday, and carrying on until adulthood, Time Pieces tells of Dublin as it was and how it was imagined to be. It's well worth reading at a slow, thoughtful pace.

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
I was worried this would feel too gimmicky, and while it is very much written in a style meant to appeal to the masses (aka no big words or complicated ideas) I ended up enjoying it. Though I didn't always agree with Comey's decisions when it came to revealing FBI investigations around the time of the 2016 elections, I appreciated getting to see more of his thought process behind his actions and a bit more about his brief time as FBI director during Trump's presidency.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya
A raw, hard look at the Rwandan genocide from the perspective of Clemantine, one of the survivors. She was six when she fled the violence with her older sister, both separated from their family, and the book chronicles their journey through several different countries as they continue to search for safety and stability. Clemantine doesn't shy away from or diminish the darker emotions surrounding the events but gives full weight to her anger, sadness, and fear. She gives an individual voice to a horror that seems too overwhelming to think of, and captures the very real sentiments of destruction, disorientation, and finality. A brutal but necessary read.

Also loving //

I binged this one over Memorial Day weekend and was quickly pulled into the storyline. Starring Bill Hader as the lead (who also wrote and produced it), Barry is a dark comedy about a hitman who wants out of the business to become an actor. Having only seen Hader do comedic work before I was impressed by his portrayal of a tightly wound, world weary assassin. The side characters deserve their fair share of praise too; the Chechen mob members pull off the dry awkward humor particularly well.

Killing Eve
I talked about this comedic cat-and-mouse thriller last month, but as it finished up this month I felt it deserved another mention. Jodie Comer is exceptional as Villanelle, a psychopathic assassin with a sassy streak, and is a perfect match to Sandra Oh's fierce but clumsy MI6 operative character. It's been a while since I've seen a show this entertaining; I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and am impatiently awaiting the next season.

Light Myself on Fire by Mating Ritual
I've been a longtime fan of Ryan Marshall Lawhon, Mating Ritual's lead, back to the previous few iterations of his band, but Mating Ritual is definitely his best. Light Myself on Fire, the band's newest album, is a delight from start to finish, with snappy pop hooks, 80s-inspired synths, and long, searching instrumental tracks.

Lost Friends by Middle Kids
I saw Middle Kids open for Cold War Kids over a year ago, so I was of course excited to see them finally release a full length album. Lost Friends contains the well loved tracks "Edge of Town" and "Never Start," but most of the songs hadn't been previously released. Much of Middle Kids' music feels like a 90s throwback, and it's great for playing on those simmering hot summer evenings.

Painting of a Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
After hearing that Frightened Rabbit's lead singer passed away earlier this month, I pulled out their last few records and have been listening to this one in particular on repeat. The band's music often portrays self-loathing but sympathetic, even cuttingly humorous pictures of depression and heartbreak set to emotion-evoking alternative rock anthems, and Painting of a Heart Attack is no change in formula. A bit heavy for a newer fan perhaps, but a worthy album as a sendoff. 
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