Sunday Lowdown #11

This Week in TV & Film

I watched Jeopardy! almost every night this week. I have to follow the saga of James Holzhauer, who broke the record for most money won in a single game. In fact, he’s broken that record ($77,000 — held by Roger Craig) five times. Ken Jennings won $2.5 million in 74 episodes; James Holzhauer has won $850,000 is 12 games! This is historic Jeopardy!, people!

Although I had heard Russian Doll on Netflix is good, the trailer reminded me too much of the 2017 film Happy Death Day, which reminded me too much of Groundhog Day. Whereas the point of the aforementioned films are clear (in Happy Death Day she has to find out who keeps murdering her, and in Groundhog Day he needs to learn to be a decent person), it’s not clear why Nadia keeps dying in random situations.

I didn’t care for the first two episodes, which is a trend I’ve noticed on Netflix original shows. But that third episode is when she meets a man who also keeps dying. There are some unique efforts in Russian Doll that you’ll notice if you pay attention, and it’s a great mystery that also says something about suicide, mental illness, and the holocaust. I finished the whole season, which has a satisfactory ending, suggesting there won’t be a Season 2. Of course, people are speculating, but I think it would be tacky to beat a dead horse like they did in Happy Death Day 2U.

This Week in Reading: Finished Books

Technically, I finished By the Sword, a mercenary adventure stand-alone novel by Mercedes Lackey that is part of the Valdemar series, last week, but the review went up this week. Excellent fun; glad it was added it to the schedule. I chose to DNF An Untamed State by Roxane Gay at 41% but still reviewed the novel and discussed reasons I quit. It was trauma on paper; no need to inflict that on readers. Gay’s novel was my “oldest book I own” for April.

This Week in Reading: Books in Progress

I need to write a post about why I’m reading so many books at the same time, but it is the reason I only finish a book a week. Here’s what’s up with my stories:

Currently, Diane just entered the scene and Spud is declared the best of men in Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. In Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey, Princess Elspeth is about to leave to find a mage, and Darkwind finds a cat-person. Winds of Fate is part of #ReadingValdemar. Teen-age Margo has paddled away on her boat in Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell and decided to live with a man who is almost forty. In case you’re wondering, Campbell’s book is one I’m reading aloud to my husband and cat (snicker all you want; she sits with us for reading time and must be read to even if Nick is not home, or she goes feral).

Kitty listening as I read from Once Upon a River, wondering why Margo won’t stop shooting deer.

Teen-age John realizes his father is not the influential church man he once was and is likely just a bully in Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin. Then there is Elyse, a baker and one of five sisters in A.M. Blair’s novel A Case of First Impression, who goes to court to follow the trial that pertains to her sister’s experience as a victim of human trafficking. Blair’s novel is the “newest book I own” for April.

Next Week in Reading:

Next week takes me to the end of the month, so my goal is to finish the five books listed above. If I’m lucky, I’ll started the 2019 memoir Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman. As someone who played violin for years, I cannot wait to get into this true story about a concert violinist who lands a gig with an orchestra that fake plays. EXCITED!

Side Note: lately, I’ve really stuck to not buying books that are available at my library. I almost bought three books from Barnes & Noble this weekend, but did not when I found them on the card catalog. I did buy a brand-new copy of a book not at my library by a Mexican American person who is part of the LGBTQ community. I ordered it through a new indie book store in my town that is trying to make a difference — she only stocks children’s and young adult novels from minority communities — and picked it up there. Easy peasy! Two supports with one purchase.


  1. Lovely kitten! Also the musician book sounds absolutely bonkers. I am looking forward to seeing what ye think of it. The premise reminds me of the Broadway debate about not having live musicians for shows and having canned background music instead. The musician’s union had a fit. Arrr!
    x The Captain


    • At the theatre where I work we sometimes use a recording, though we always try to have the orchestra. For the big summer musical, they often perform songs at different locations for advertising, so it’s hard to have a live orchestra for the performances and then switch to a recording. Thus, they just do the recording.

      Kitty says thank you!


  2. How are you liking Winds of Fate so far? I have some marks against it, but I’m looking forward to the second book for sure. Once again, I remember more about the books than I thought I did even though it’s been years since I read them.


    • I like that it has alternating chapters — this is the first in the series to do that. Jackie and I agree that we like when the novels take us away from Valdemar. You get so much perspective! The reason the Last Herald Mage trilogy destroyed me when I was 16 wasn’t just that everyone dies, but that I thought there would never be magic again. Had I read The Heralds of Valdemar back then, I would have known at least Ancar had some mages. I also like getting to know the swampy woodsy characters more, such as the hertasi and gryphons (!), which I thought would only be in the Mage Wars based on the covers/descriptions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s some record on Jeopardy! I remember watching it with my aunt all the time when I was younger but haven’t watched much of it recently. Your kitty is a cutie! And I’m not much of a cat person but since she’s a reader, she’s good in my book. 🤣

    I always wanted to learn to play an instrument so what a nice little tidbit to learn that you played the violin! That memoir sounds very interesting so I’m ready for you to start reading it so you can tell us more.

    Speaking of not buying books you can get at the library…I got a little excited based on our chat about our buddy read and the possibilities…well I’ll tell you about it later. 🙈


    • Ha! I love that you’ve likely brought home a cloth bag full of books, and maybe some new tea, too. I’ve got your number, Ms. Shell! Kitty says how do you do, and thanks for making an exception. The funny thing is my husband and I are not “cat people” in the sense that we talk about our cat all the time. I just love that she likes stories. When my husband is away on business, I still have to read to her (she’s used to me reading to him) or she goes nutty and knocks everything off the tables (which she normally does not do, though I know that’s a cat thing).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. They have just put a load of series of Jeopardy on Netflix over here, so I am looking forward to watching a few episodes – I feel like it is referenced all the time in US media that I consume but I never quite get it. Hopefully soon I will understand the references!


    • The Jeopardy! that the put on Netflix in the U.S. is all the tournaments — no regular game play, so it’s different. What people MAY be referencing are all the Jeopardy! jokes from the TV show Saturday Night Live.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your cat is adorable. My cats are often around when I’m reading to my kids, but they don’t seem to be paying attention.

    Thank you for mentioning A Case of First Impression! I’m impressed that you’re able to read so many books at one time. I read one or two at a time. When I try to read more than that, I tend to lose the motivation to finish.


    • I don’t know why Kitty got into being read to other than it’s part of a routine and she hears my voice.

      I just finished my post about why I decided to try reading so many books at the same in 2019. It’s new for me. I never used to read more than 3 at a time, and they had to be different formats or for different reasons: audio, for GTL, the book I’m reading to my spouse.


  6. You really sounded like a foreign country today, but mostly because I don’t watch television. Love the sound of your indie book store. I can’t get my local store ( and Perth probably has only 5 or 6 all up) to separate out the Australian books, let alone minority communities.


    • Whaaat? They don’t have an Australian authors section? That’s just lazy. There’s a great indie bookstore in Kalamazoo, Michigan (a big liberal town) that I love that has a section just for Michigan authors.


  7. Yay for libraries and indie book stores! An independent bookstore that only sells kids and YA books by minorities sounds awesome – I hope they can make a go of it!


    • Be patient; the first two episodes are a little slow. You know what’s funny is this morning I was trying to read Go Tell It on the Mountain, but for some reason that book makes my brain wander. When that happens, I read out loud to get myself to focus. And here came Kitty. She bonked the book mark off my lap and made herself comfy. I’ve never heard of cats that like being read to, but I know some people talk to their cats a lot, so maybe it’s similar.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Like Laila, I love that you read to your kitty too! So cute. Smokey would hate that…

    I haven’t seen Russian Doll, mainly because I never have time to watch netflix anymore (sigh), but I think I’d really like it. My husband and I will watch House of Cards together, but not apart, so we watch like one episode a month and can never remember what happened during the last one LOL


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