Author Archives: Katy

Soul: A Review

Soul directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Absolutely beautiful Disney movie about life, death, and jazz. Joe is a part-time middle school band teacher with dreams of playing piano with some of the jazz greats. But when his opportunity finally comes, his life ends abruptly and he tries everything he can to get back to “his moment.” Mistaken for a mentor to a new soul who is not interested in going to earth, he finds a way back into the world, but accidently takes the new soul along. Hilarity and heartbreak ensue.

At first, the movie comes off a little psychedelic and woo-woo. But once 22 and Joe meet, it starts to get interesting. Lost souls versus souls that are in the zone were pretty cool. And defining passion for life versus the purpose of life was definitely beautiful.

The music is gorgeous. There are nods to black culture throughout the film, including the jazz but also the experiences at the barber shop. The twists are predictable but still beautifully laid out.

I would definitely recommend this movie. It gave me Inside Out vibes with both the illustrations and the emotion of the film. There are some slightly scary parts with death being the main topic, as well as the lost souls which were big, dark creatures. It’s a sweet film about death, but more importantly, about living life to the fullest.

No profanity. No sexual content. All of the death sequences are brief, like falling down a manhole, but nothing gruesome.

Moon Rhythms

I’m always trying to search for ways to incorporate sabbaths into my life. On Sunday, I try to stay away from the phone, particularly social media apps. But incorporating rest into my life feels counterproductive to American values. Then came 2020. We all had to stop at least a few things, and toward the end of the year, I started incorporating some very intentional rest periods each month.

Then I learned that some people use the phases of the moon to work on projects. To be fair, this is pretty woo-woo for me, but then I learned that the Hebrew calendar has lunar months. And also, we use the sun to dictate our schedules anyway so why not see if the moon cycles could be a benefit as well?

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

I’m not following any one plan, and this is still quite new to me, but here is what I have done so far and I’m really liking it. So, each phase lasts 6-8 days on average.

  • So, from the first day of the new moon to the first quarter moon or Waxing Moon, this is my rest period. I don’t write my blog. I spend less time on social media and more time with family. I work hard during the other phases so that I can spend this time resting.

  • Then, on the first day of the first quarter moon, I start planning. I write blog outlines, plan out blog ideas, set up when I will watch certain shows, all the way through the following Full Moon (not the phase right after this one). I also work on social media posts, particularly ones that might need a little forethought like my flat lays. And, I make sure that I’m not overworking or overscheduling things in my days ahead, so I also take a look at Sam’s schedule and my home schedule to make sure I’m not overdoing it.

  • The Full Moon phase is when I really get to work. I write and finish most of my blog posts, finish up any social media pictures I may need to take, and just carry out the plan I set the phase before.

  • Finally, at the beginning of the third quarter moon or Waning Moon phase, I take some time to reflect. What worked for me? What didn’t? I make notes and will use them to plan during the next Waxing Moon phase. Sometimes I still have to write a few posts or blogs at this point due to timing, but the majority is done during the Full Moon phase, so I’m pretty much just winding down and reflecting. Then, it starts all over again with a rest period during the next New Moon.

The first time I did this, I worked hard for two weeks just to give myself the new moon phase off, but slowly my timeline has adjusted, and I’m enjoying the focused time each cycle. I especially like the fact that there is time in there just for reflection, and that there is rest between reflecting and planning so I’m not just diving into the next writing project. I don’t know how productive I will be, but I’m interested to see where these new rhythms will lead this year.

Do you have any weird rhythms that work really well for you?

Shadow and Bone: A Review

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 star

I have never read any of this author, despite all the hype I have seen over the years. But when Netflix announced that this series was getting a TV show, and everyone started to go crazy for the teaser trailer, my interest was piqued. So, I picked up the first book and I can see why this is a beloved series.

The world is very interesting. Hundreds of years ago, a part of the kingdom was covered in darkness and filled with these horrible monsters called volcra who would devour anyone who tried to cross to the other side. While some people made it across unscathed, most were hurt or killed trying to cross. This put the kingdom at a severe economic disadvantage since they couldn’t access their ports on the other side of this dark scar.

Within this kingdom are also people called Grisha who have magical abilities. These abilities fall into three categories, but mainly, the person can affect a particular element like metal or water. There are also some who can heal or kill using their powers. These grisha are treated like royalty, but really, they are servants to the king and used to protect the kingdom in various ways, especially with the wars that are waged in other countries.

Alina and Mal are orphans who were both tested to see if they were grisha at a young age. When both were found without magical abilities, they entered the military. Mal became an amazing tracker and Alina was a cartographer. But when their group attempts to cross the darkness, their ship is attacked. Only when it is found that Alina is actually a sun summoner (the only of her kind), they manage to make it back to the “coast” where they started.

Alina is then taken to live as a Grisha, leaving Mal and everything she knows behind. This story is mainly a transformation trope. Alina doesn’t believe in herself, isn’t really good at her cartography job, and then all of the sudden, she is this rare and powerful Grisha. Throughout the story, she is learning to trust herself and it’s in that trust that she becomes who she is meant to be.

This book is copyrighted back in 2012, so while it does follow a familiar formula, it was probably more groundbreaking when it first came out. Still, I think it holds the test of time, and I would recommend it to anyone who was intrigued by the Netflix trailer. Definitely worth the read.

There is no profanity in the book. Sexual content includes kissing and searching hands. Violent content includes the volka attacks and fight training. Some of the volka attacks are a little more detailed.

WandaVision: A Review

WandaVision created by Jac Schaeffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disney+ has begun releasing their episodes of WandaVision. The first week, they released two episodes, and I assume that they will only release one episode at a time after that. I have missed the MCU in all its variety and fun, so I was really excited to watch this show.

It did not disappoint. It isn’t like anything else I’ve seen so far on in the Marvel Universe. But I’m a huge Donna Reed fan, so seeing a show in this format of a 1950s/60s sitcom was really entertaining. I loved all the silliness and catch phrases, but this isn’t a simple sitcom. Between the laugh tracks, there is something amiss in Westview.

Everything seems to be slipping clues as to what is really going on, from the commercials to the strange beekeeper scene to creepy one-liners from the supporting cast. And I feel like the show isn’t going to let on what is happening exactly any time soon, but like any good mystery, we are going to follow Wanda and Vision as they realize their broken reality and follow each secret door to the final reveal. And I’m living for every second of it.

The cast is also amazing. There were all sorts of familiar faces. Kathryn Hahn (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Bad Moms alum) is the perfect quirky neighbor, Agnes. Emma Caulfield Ford (who I loved in Buffy way back in the day) was the intimidating neighborhood leader, Dottie, in the second episode that had a very creepy scene. Teyonah Parris, from Dear White People, is the naive new friend, Geraldine (who may know more than she lets on). And Debra Jo Rupp must have felt quite at home in a period sitcom since she was from That 70s Show.

Overall, the first two episodes are entertaining, full of creepy clues, and keeps you just a little on edge all the way to the end. If you have Disney+ and you loved Marvel, I would definitely suggest checking it out. I am looking forward to the rest of the season for sure!

No profanity. Chaste kissing and romantic situations. May have some slapstick violence, but nothing detailed or graphic, at least not in the first two episodes.

Night Rhythms

As I said in my previous post, I’m a morning person, which is why my night time rhythms are so important. What I do the night before is what sets me up for a good morning. But I can’t stay up too late preparing for the next day, so the rhythms have to be concise and productive.

  • My rhythm actually starts with the kid’s bedtime routine. My husband and I each have our parts to play from bath time to the final bed time song. During the parts of the routine that my husband does, I am usually cleaning up the kitchen or the living room, or playing my piano, or getting in a chapter from one of the books I’m reading.

  • I get into pajamas, brush teeth, and get ready for the next day. This is when I lay out clothes, put my yoga mat into the closet and set up the nightstand for bedtime, including filling up all my water bottles for the next day (I find it easier to just fill up multiple water bottles to keep track of my water intake). I do one more look through social media and calendar, make any notes on a post-it for the next day which I stick on top of my phone, plug it in and place the devotional book on top.

Putting the devotional over the phone
  • Then, I grab my reading/media journal and make any notes for anything I read or watched that day. I usually do this while I’m watching or reading as well, but I look over what I wrote and make any clarifications. Then, I read at least one chapter in current read. Put on any lotion or calming sprays and go to bed. I use a sleep mask with headphones inside of it that I can play white noise or other calming sounds. I’m an extremely light sleeper and an early riser. My husband won’t be in bed for another hour or two (he is a night owl), so this usually helps me not hear him when he gets to bed.

Just like in the mornings, different events signify other events. I have a basket on my nightstand that houses only the things I need for morning or night. This includes books I’m reading for Bible Study, small group, the sprays or lotions I use, but if it can’t fit then it doesn’t belong in my routine. The only difference are the things I want to be in reach first thing in the morning (like my devotional) or last thing at night (like the current read or the eye mask). Simplifying it all really helps me not get overwhelmed with decisions and really focus on the things that are important to me.

What are some things that are a must for your night time routines or rhythms?

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue: A Review

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 star

I loved this book, like I thought I would. It is a beautiful, heart-breaking, clever story filled with intrigue and mystery with just the right touch of magic.

Addie Larue is a girl from the 1700s France who wants to escape from her mundane life on the day of her wedding to a man she doesn’t love. She makes a deal with a god of darkness who gives her immortality with a catch, no one who meets her remembers who she is after she leaves. Since both of her parents forget who she is, she is forced to strike out on her own, and there begins her adventure.

The god of darkness who she made the deal with continues to pop in and out of her life. You see, if she decides she no longer wants this immortal life of anonymity, he gets her soul. But when she enters a book store in New York City three hundred years after her deal, a man remembers who she is, and it begins a whole new exciting and heartbreaking journey.

The definitions of love, loss, death, and dying are what I am here for.

I really resonated with the character of Henry with his lack of direction and the full, big feelings he feels. I don’t get the storms he deals with, but I understood a lot of what drove his character and why he made the decisions he does. It is a beautiful depiction of mental health and depression.

If you like a little historical fiction mixed with magic and romance, this book is for you. It was a wonderful ride, one that I will definitely re-read in the future!

There is a profanity in the book. Sexual content includes kissing and sex scenes, not super graphic but definitely steamy. Violence includes stabbings, starvation, suicide attempts and of course, seeing others die around you, losing family members, etc.

Get Organized with the Home Edit: A Review

Get Organized with the Home Edit starring Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I love to organize, so I thought I would really love this show on Netflix about these two women who own an professional organizing company. The formula for the show is very easy to grasp. They organize a part of a house for a celebrity, and then the second half of the episode is a surprise organization project for a nominated person.

The first episode features Reese Witherspoon who had just moved into her home in Nashville. And she wanted a place to store and display all of the costumes and accessories from her famous shows. Primarily, the focus was the things from Legally Blonde, but her other notable shows also made an appearance. Clea and Joanna clearly had fun looking at, handling, even trying on a slipper from her iconic roles, but it didn’t have a practical translation to me. I have respect for costuming and design, but not enough to find that part entertaining.

The second half of the show was a surprise closet makeover for a hospital pediatrician. She seemed like a nice person, the people who nominated her seem to really love her and want the best for her. But, again, nothing about the organization process was new or interesting to me. I would have loved to see a “six months later” segment to show what worked and what didn’t for the doctor.

However, all that being said, this was the pilot episode. First episodes, especially in these kinds of makeover type shows, can been a little cheesy and surface level. I expect that when I continue to watch the episodes, there will be more reveals, conflicts and solutions that I will find helpful. But at first taste, the show left me wanting a little more practicality and little less fluff.

There is no profanity, sexual content, or violent content.

Morning Rhythms

In order to set my day right, I have to get up at 5am. But, my friends, I am an actual morning person. At night, I’m foggy and silly and moody, but in the morning, I can actually pop out of bed pretty quickly. My husband is a night owl, so I like that I can have this first hour to myself. I know that might already turn some of you away from the screen, but bear with me.

  • My watch vibrates, waking me up. I turn to my nightstand where my devotional is laying out on top of my phone. I used to do Bible studies on an app, but I found that I would drift to other social media apps and lose precious morning me time. I still might need to use the flashlight option on my phone to read (and not wake up the husband), but I can do this without opening my phone all the way. This month, I’m reading 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Meyers.

  • After my devo, I grab my phone and head to the bathroom to get ready. Usually, I have laid out my clothes in the closet the night before so I’m not rummaging through drawers. I used to shower and wash my hair every day, but that has changed for me. I only wash my hair 2-3 times a week now, and sometimes I skip the shower if I know I will be needing a warm bath or shower later that day due to exercise or activity.

  • Once I’ve dressed, I do a quick 10-15 minute session of yoga, sometimes less if I’m low on time. This helps my body and mind get ready. I have a playlist on YouTube with sessions 10 minutes or less so I’m not trying to find the video in the morning. My go-tos are Yoga with Adriene and Sarah Beth Yoga. I know that I’ve enjoyed everything on that playlist, so there is less time being used trying to make a decision. I also put my yoga mat in the closet the night before so it is ready to use.

  • After a shower and yoga, I go back into the bedroom, putting my yoga mat back in its normal corner and put my phone back on my nightstand. There, I pick up my prayer journal and head into the office where I do my journaling until my watch goes off at 6, which is when my husband gets up to start his day. Usually, I’m finishing up my last thoughts when the watch goes off, but as soon as I’m done, I return to the bedroom with my notebook to place it back in its place.

  • Then, once my husband is up, I turn on the light and read until my kid gets up. Of course, there have been times when this has already happen, so my reading might be more of the children’s book variety, but I can usually get a chapter or so of my own book while I convince the kid to play with the dogs. Once my husband is dressed, we all head down for breakfast.

  • The rest of the morning consists of getting the kid ready, making the beds, starting laundry, and feeding the dogs. All of this is done to the latest favorite playlist blasting through the entire house via Google Home. But each task flows into the next. Part of making my bed is getting a laundry basket on the bed to fill. I bring that basket down and start the washer, turn around, and the dog food is there, waiting for me to scoop it and fill the dog bowls in the kitchen. I pass by the dining room table where I take the breakfast dishes to the sink.

It helps my kid learn the flow of our house as well. As soon as the music comes on, it’s time to get dressed. Less fighting about getting out of pajamas because we are too busy dancing!

I also realize that this is a “living in a pandemic” rhythm. We haven’t had to be anywhere specific for a while now, and I’m sure when life inevitably changes so will we, but for now I’m truly enjoying the flow of our mornings!

What kind of things are a must for you to do each morning?

A Conjuring of Light: A Review

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 star

This is the third book in Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy. Since I try not to reveal any spoilers for the entire series, this review will be short.

The book begins right where the last book left off, which was expected since that is how the first and second book transitioned as well. It was action-packed, everything from the previous books are coming together and this one took off running.

There are some character deaths, both main and secondary characters. In retrospect, I did find that the author really honed in on a lot of these characters in this book so that when their abrupt end happened, I felt emotion. But she weaves them all together beautifully, and I cared for all of the characters in the end.

The ending was messy but so good. Imperfect, but filled with hope. Not saying I would have wanted it to end in another way, but the author doesn’t tie up everything neatly, allows the characters to still have flaws at the end that affect their relationships, and I really liked the lack of a happily ever after for everyone. It worked well for this story.

Of course, I loved these books. I love this author. I love what she does with her characters. I love the fast moving plot. I love the world she created. She is one of my favorite authors, and I look forward to continuing to read her backlist as well as any future stories she may create.

There is a profanity in the book. Sexual content includes kissing and roaming hands, described genitalia and suggested oral sex, but nothing is too graphic or steamy. Violent content includes lots of death, either by sword or magic. There are also mentions and displays of familial abuse.

The Wilds, Episode One: A Review

The Wilds created by Sarah Streicher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Wilds on Amazon Prime follows nine girls who are stranded on an island after their private jet crashes on their way to a female empowerment retreat. The first episode opens with an interview by law enforcement of one of the girls, Leah, presumably after they have been rescued. Through a montage and quick introduction of the characters, we learn the basics of each girl’s past.

We have Toni and Martha from Minnesota. Martha is an Indigenous person who is shy and has never been in a relationship. Toni is loud and violently opinionated, something that apparently got her kicked off the basketball team. Dot and Shelby are from Texas. They are described as Dot, the girl who wears cargo pants, and Shelby, the pageant girl who constantly talks about Jesus. Rachel and Nora are sisters from New York. Rachel is a swim athlete and Nora is observant but anxious, who stays in her sister’s shadow. Jeanette is from San Francisco and helps her parents in their restaurant. And Fatin and Leah come from the same school, but Fatin has a bit of a bad reputation and Leah has no reputation at all.

The first episode follows Leah’s perspective from the events leading up to her going on this trip. She gets involved with an older man and lies about her age. It doesn’t end well, and when she spirals into depression, her parents decide to send her to this retreat. Since it is coming from her point of view, it is very angsty and overexaggerated. Everything is the end of the world. She makes a comment about how the island definitely gave her trauma, but she was already living in hell before she boarded the plane.

Like I said, very angsty.

Towards the end of the episode (which this is in the trailer, so no spoiler), it is revealed that the organization who does the retreat actually orchestrated the plane crash. The girls are being monitored the whole time (and from the trailer, we know that their parents are in on it, too).

I plan to keep watching it, but I hope that it lets up on the teen angst comments just a bit. I assume that each girl’s story will be revealed with the following episodes, and I’m just intrigued enough with this organization to keep watching.

It starts by issuing the warnings of profanity, sexuality, violence and drug use, so be forewarned. There is profanity. Sexual content includes an adult/minor sexual relationship with love scene in bed, though no nudity. There is a death that happens in the first episode as well. There are also injuries from the plane crash.