The Lineup: Tami

Tami’s Lineup

Podcast: The Villian was Right

My latest fun listen is a light-hearted romp. Comedians Craig and Rebecca take a look at movies and television from the villain’s perspective and dare to ask if they were really all that bad. The hosts go into detail about movie or series characters and their motivations, and theorize whether or not they deserve to be the hero or villain.

Was Ariel really innocent? Or was Ursula just trying to run a small business?

What I find especially fun is that Craig and Rebecca don’t just review the obvious movies. They look into Father of the Bride, Legally Blonde, Bridget Jones’ Diary, the Magic School Bus, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Friends, Mary Poppins and many, many more. I recommend you start with Ferris Buller’s Day Off, Jurassic Park or the Incredibles.

*Available on Spotify, Apple, or here: https://www.fromsuperheroes.com/the-villain-was-right

Book: Project Hail Mary

I whole-heartedly recommend this recent read. If you like science fiction with actual science, this is for you. If you like stories with interesting, well developed characters, this also has that. If you want excitement and a thrilling plot, here you go. If you want romance and sex, well, there you’re completely out of luck.

I challenge you to read the first five pages and NOT want to keep reading. What an opening! Ryland Grace wakes up alone with no clue where he is or how he got there. His body isn’t responding the way it should and he struggles with the fog that is keeping rational thoughts at bay. He slowly comes to the realization that he’s hurtling through space and his crew mates are dead. While that opening alone is enough to keep me turning pages, Weir infuses Ryland with unique wit and humor that elevates the story beyond the run of the mill science fiction thriller.

As Ryland’s memory returns, he flashes back to the past and slowly reveals how he ended up as the sole-survivor of this last-chance mission to save Earth. And as things seem hopeless, he finds glimmers of hope in unexpected places. He also just might be the perfect person for the job.

This well-written novel is a mix of things: science fiction, mystery, fantasy, thriller. There’s a diverse cast as the entire planet comes together to save humanity. And I can only hope Hollywood takes notice.

*Available as a physical book in the KanShare catalog or as an ebook via the Sunflower eLibrary/Libby app.

Music: Equals by Ed Sheeran

Okay, so this one hasn’t completely been released yet, but I am eagerly awaiting it. And fortunately, I have heard a couple early release tracks, so I think it’s fair to add to my line up list.

The album is set to drop October 29. It’s been 4 long years since we last heard songs featuring solo artist Ed Sheeran playing and singing all by himself (no collaborations). I have read interviews about this release and it appears the songs are all personal to him as a recently married man and father who has experienced loss. Sheeran says the album is a reflection of those experiences. For a man to state that this is a coming of age album, I feel it should be chocked full of nostalgia, eye awakening moments and experiences that make us who we are. Bad Habits, one of the early release titles is dance music story of late night bad choices while Visiting Hours is a heartfelt, personal sort of song you play in the bluest hours. It’s raw and emotional.

*I believe the library will be purchasing and adding this title to the catalog for checkout. I don’t see it there yet, but all the other Sheeran albums are, so it’s a good guess it’s coming soon.

Television: Below Deck Mediterranean

In another year, where I haven’t been able to travel abroad like I planned, I am “escaping” via my television and “reality” TV.

What I like? No dull waiting period–this is entertaining IMMEDIATELY.

This show has it all: attractive people, vastly different personalities, relatable protagonists, loathsome antagonists, money and a BIG yacht. It’s fun, interesting, and has changing locals (Greece, Croatia, Italy, South of France and Mallorca). The guests are interesting. There’s TIGHT quarters (GREAT for drama), a social element and very merit-based workplace element.

I think the two most important components of any reality show are the “characters” and the editing. The characters here are in spades, but the editing brings us the stories, and man do they make the stories POP! Hats off to the editing staff. I think we all like to see justice because we so rarely get it in real life, and the editors don’t let anyone get away with ANYTHING. When someone does something stupid, we get to see the consequences, which is a great little respite from real life. I also love the insight you get, to see all that goes on under the surface of a luxury yacht.

*Available on Bravo network or free on Peacock

Family Outing: Wild Lights at Sedgwick County Zoo

This one I am super excited to get out and see for myself. Recently, when I volunteered at the Zoo for Zoobilee and the new Asian Big Cat exhibit grand opening, I discovered that Sedgwick County Zoo has a new “Wild Lights” exhibit in the works.  Think Asian lantern sculptures illuminating paths throughout the zoo. 

The company who has provided and set up the exhibit brought in 13 semi-truck loads of giant animal lanterns.  These creatures are spread out throughout the zoo. They are everywhere! Installation began in early September.  The exhibit has filled the zoo with 47 glowing Asian lanterns, most of them larger than life.

They’re in the shapes of animals.  Guests will find pandas, elephants, turtles, rhinos as well as other displays in the shapes of flowers, bugs, fish, butterflies, and plants. Many of them are animated: A peacock’s plume of feathers goes up and down every five minutes. A baby panda spins with a ball on his head. A massive crocodile opens and closes his giant jaw. About six people accompanying the tour, which travels to zoos all over the world, spent a month erecting the wire frames that form each sculpture’s “bones” then covering them with translucent fabric and filling them with colorful lights. It will take visitors about an hour to walk the path where the sculptures are set up, which stretches from the zoo entrance to the gorilla exhibit and back to the exit.  Not only do they set up the lights, but they stay here in Wichita throughout the show to maintain the exhibit.

I plan to enjoy the zoo like never before with this larger-than-life Chinese lantern festival!

*Wild Lights will light up the zoo Wednesday through Sunday nights 6:00-9:00 p.m. through December 5, 2021. Tickets are on sale now at scz.org/event/wild-lights.

Food: Seasonal Soups and Stews

It’s that time of year – fall (or maybe the fringe of fall with our ever changing Kansas weather).  Maybe you’ve noticed the chill in the air, or that the leaves are starting to turn shades of orange and red. The first pumpkin spice lattes of the season have already been sipped, and perhaps you’ve taken out the sweaters that make you feel like Cameron Diaz courting Jude Law in a cozy cottage in the English countryside. But is it really sweater season without a pot of soup bubbling away? Or a hearty stew on the table, served with a fistful of crusty bread? A few veggies, possibly some beans, aromatics and broth are just about all you need for a satisfying meal.

So let this be my reminder to you. If you have yet to avail yourself of all the ways your local library can help you be a better, more inquisitive cook (or simply save you some money) there’s no better time than now. With many of us cooking at home more than ever, we could all use a little jolt of inspiration and novelty. Or just some escapist reading. Take a look at our KanShare catalog for in print cook books, Sunflower eLibrary (Libby app) for eCookbooks and magazines, Pinterest and the good ole internet for general browsing!  You are sure to find something new to try.

I’m sharing my easy-peasy Taco Soup recipe.  It’s a go to my family always loves.  Hope you will too!

Slow Cooking Taco Soup – 6 to 8 servings

1 lb ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

16 oz can Mexican-style tomatoes

16 oz can whole-kernel corn, undrained

16 oz can red beans, undrained

16 oz can black beans, undrained

16 oz can ranch beans

16 oz jar picante sauce (your choice on mild, medium or hot)

Optional additions when serving:

Sour cream

Shredded cheddar cheese

Corn or tortilla chips

  1. Brown meat and onions in skillet. Drain.
  2. Combine with all other vegetables and picante sauce in slow cooker.
  3. Cover. Cook on low 4-6 hours
  4. Serve with corn or tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded cheese as toppings.

What’s Ashley Reading?: 1922

1922 by Stephen King

First line: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: My name is Wilfred Leland James, and this is my confession.

Summary: In a short story by Stephen King we get a dark tale of murder on the Nebraska plains. Wilfred James lives on a farm in Nebraska with this wife and son. When his wife suggests that they sell the 100 acres she owns but it angers Wilfred. He does not want the land to be used as a pig farm. As his anger with her grows he starts to conceive of a plan to make his wife disappear.

My Thoughts: 1922 was the perfect start to my October TBR and Dia de los Muertos read-a-thon list. It was spooky and quick. I have driven many times through the farmland of Nebraska. The old farmhouses with acres of land as far as the eye can see. I could easily imagine Wilfred living on his farm, killing his wife and burying her in the well. And no one else around to even notice. Especially in 1922.

But then his wife begins to haunt him with her decaying body and the rats that are slowly eating away at her. Rats are terrifying on their own but imagining them eating a human body is a nightmare come to life. King does a great job bringing the eeriness to the story without out making it outlandish. The visions, smells and memories just add to the suspense.

Then mixed in with the terror that Wilfred is experiencing is the guilt and changes happening to his son. I was surprised with the way his story changed from the beginning till the end. It was heartbreaking to see but it definitely added another level to this short story.

FYI: This is originally part of Full Dark, No Stars, a collection of King’s short stories. It has also been made into a Netflix movie which I plan to watch real soon!

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Night She Disappeared

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

First line: The baby is starting to grumble.

Summary: 2017: Tallulah Murray, a nineteen year old mother, goes out with her boyfriend to the neighborhood pub for dinner. The next morning her mother, Kim, finds that neither one of them have come home. Kim knows that Tallulah would never abandon her baby son. As she talks with Tallulah’s friends she find out that they were last seen at a party at Dark Place, a manor house outside the small village.

2018: Sophie Beck has just moved into a little cottage on the grounds of a private boarding school. Her partner is the new head teacher while Sophie is a mystery novelist. As Sophie explores her new home she finds a sign in their garden with the words, “DIG HERE”, written on it. As she digs she uncovers a missing link in the mystery of the disappearance of Tallulah Murray.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book from the beginning until the end. Normally the time jumps can be confusing but since each time had a different narrator that made it easier to follow. The end was excellent. I was on the edge of my seat, trying to finish it as fast as I could. And of course, that’s when my dog decided he needed to go outside!

I liked the characters of Tallulah and her mother Kim. Sophie felt like more of a filler character to help solve the mystery. She was the like her characters in her book which the comparison is drawn in the books as well. Her part felt more cozy. But I think Jewell did a great job of bringing Kim’s pain and Tallulah’s struggles out. They were relatable and I could sympathize with them as their lives changed through the story. After Jewell’s last book I was hoping that this one would be much more entertaining. Thank goodness it was!

FYI: Audio book was read by Joanne Froggat (Anna Bates from Downton Abbey).

The Lineup: Maycie

Maycie’s Lineup

TV Show: American Horror Story

I know I know, everyone else already knew how amazing American Horror Story was but for some reason it had never crossed my mind to watch it.  Then about a few months ago my husband and I were looking for something a little spooky to watch that we had never seen before and Netflix presented us with the holy grail of televised anthologies. So we might be ten years late to the game, but we are obsessed, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of it. 

Video Game: Animal Crossing New Horizons

I’m a huge fan of cozy gaming; Stardew Valley, Pikmin, the Sims you can toss them all my way. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on my Island of Alderaan bonding with my villagers, catching bugs, fishing and discovering that I owe a lifetime’s worth of bells to Tom Nook. 

  • Available for Nintendo Switch

Hobbies: Fantasy Football

Do I know anything about football? No. Do I know what I’m doing with my lineup each week? Also no. “Hey Maycie do you at least come close to winning your league every year?” I absolutely do not. But as the full-time general manager of Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood my fall schedule is booked with strategy meetings, game tape reviews and injury reports. Whether you’re an avid fan of football or being roped into a league I find it’s a fun way to engage with your family and friends. 

Goals: Bread Making

“2021 is the year I make breads from scratch” -Maycie at the end of 2020.  Armed with a stand-mixer and a jar of yeast I spent my year learning to bake all things bread. So far I’ve mastered biscuits, pizza dough and pasta but I have to say that my favorite creation was a beautiful blueberry babka.  

On My Radar: Here’s what I’m looking forward to in the next few months

To Read: Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Water of the World. I’m so excited for this sequel to come out and I can’t wait to join Ari and Dante’s world again.

At the Movies: West Side Story. I’m not always a huge fan of movie remakes but the new West Side Story looks so good and has some of my favorite Broadway actors in it.

TV Shows: One of Us is Lying. One of my favorite YA thrillers that is being adapted and will be streaming on Peacock later this fall. 

Holidays: CHRISTMAS

Terese’s Thoughts: People Like Them

People Like Them by Samira Sedira, translated by Lara Vergnaud

First Line: There’s no cemetery in Carmac.

Summary: The story is told from the perspective of Anna, who lives with her husband and children in the quaint Alpine village of Carmac. Life seems to follow a comfortable pattern for those who live there. Everyone lovingly tolerates the two old men who spend their days at the pub, they know the bartender and his past relationships, and they all celebrate together at the wedding of a young couple in town. This is a close-knit community unused to interlopers, aside from the mild annoyance of seasonal tourists. But of course, that all changes once a new family begins building a house next door to Anna and her husband. The Langloises seem to have wealth. Their house is large and they drive expensive cars. Bakary, the husband and father of the family, is black. This is all in contrast to the other villagers. But despite their differences, Anna’s husband becomes close to Bakary and Anna even works as the Langloises part-time cleaner. However, it isn’t long before tensions build to a shocking end.

My Thoughts: This is a small book to begin with, but it is also a page-turner. I finished it in one night. The writing is lovely, and it’s the description of the later hours of an outdoor wedding that might be my favorite part of the whole book:

“I didn’t know where you were, but I wasn’t worried. I imagined you were chatting under a lime tree or along the river, amid a cacophony of frogs… I raised my head toward the sky; it was pure, without complication. The moment struck me as so delectable that I closed my eyes. I went inside myself with as much delight as if I was slipping into a warm bath. I reached a primitive state of serenity, rocked by the music and the whispers around the table.”

If you haven’t felt this way in the wee hours of a summer night at some point in your life, are you really even human? But the other thing the author does so well is demonstrate how subtle racism can be–how we might ignore a questionable comment from a community member, assuming they meant no harm, or thinking perhaps we misheard them, or in the interest of avoiding conflict—and she does so with a light touch, without judgment. She merely shows us where prejudice can hide, how everyday it can be, and how tragic the consequences might be.

FYI: This book was based on real events that occurred in France in 2003, which I didn’t even realize when I first read it!

What’s Ashley Reading?: Rizzio

Rizzio by Denise Mina

First line: Lord Ruthven wanted him killed during this tennis match but Darnley said no.

Summary: On the night of March 9, 1566, the personal secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots was murdered by assassins in the Queen’s apartments at Holyrood Palace. David Rizzio was dragged out and stabbed fifty six times while the pregnant queen was restrained by her husband, Lord Darnley.

My Thoughts: I remember the first time I learned about David Rizzio. It was a in a book by Jane Yolen, The Queen’s Own Fool, that I stumbled upon in a book sale. It seems like such a fantastical story but it is actually history. Mina’s book is a quick story about these events, the people involved and the reasons behind them.

Even though I liked the story I found the writing style strange. I didn’t feel like it flowed well. This was my first book by Denise Mina, so maybe this is her normal style but it’s not one that I found appealing.

Mary had such a tragic life. But I think that is why so many people, including myself, find her interesting. She was a woman with power in an age when many women had no power. And she is constantly being compared to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. If you have never heard about this event in Mary’s life or need a short book (118 pages) to complete your reading challenge then I would recommend picking this one up!

FYI: Very bloody. He was stabbed 56 times!

What’s Ashley Reading?: A Slow Fire Burning

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

First line: Blood-sodden, the girl staggers into the black.

Summary: A young man is found murdered in his houseboat in Regent’s Canal. As the police look into what happened they focus on three women. The young woman with whom he had a one night stand, the grief stricken aunt and the nosy neighbor. Each one has their own dark pasts with lots of mistakes. And their own reasons to kill.

My Thoughts: This book started great! It felt like it was going to be an exciting story with lots of twists. And it was fun but so much of it seemed to not matter to the whole storyline. Miriam especially seemed like she was just an addition to get the book to a certain page count. Plus there was lots of characters at the beginning. Keeping track of them while listening to the audio version made it hard to keep track of the plot.

I did enjoy the relationship between Irene and Laura. Seeing two women who are lonely and very different be friends and support each other is heartwarming in a murder mystery. I felt bad for both of them throughout the book because of the prejudices against them by society.

I was not surprised by who the killer was. It seemed rather obvious from the beginning as we learn the women’s backstories. With each one we see the connections and can figure out how the story will play out. Especially if you have read other thrillers. But I will say I still had fun reading it and would recommend it.

FYI: From the author of The Girl on the Train.

The Lineup: Chelsea

Chelsea’s Lineup

Music: Spotify playlist: ConfiDANCE (Song spotlight: Not 20 Anymore by Bebe Rexha; Okay Okay by Alessia Cara)

We all have our struggles. Two at the top of my list are mornings, and confidence. In an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, I created a Spotify playlist to start my mornings with a little pep. As soon as I turn off my alarm in the morning, I try to queue up this playlist, and keep it playing during my morning routine & trip to drop my oldest off at school. I sought out about half of the songs, knowing they already help me improve my mood on bad days. The other half Spotify suggested to me! A couple of my *new* favorites include Not 20 Anymore by Bebe Rexha, and Okay Okay by Alessia Cara.

  • Available on Spotify

Movies: He’s All That

I suppose I’m a shameless millennial. I was scrolling through the Netflix “coming soon” tab when I found this. She’s All That was one of my favorite movies for the years after it came out. I mean, Paul Walker you guys. Even as the jerk bad guy, he’s dreamy. Anyhow, it gave me all the teenage angst lovey-dovey vibes that I wanted. I had such high hopes for this movie. I watched it the day it launched onto Netflix. A little overzealous, I know. Anyway, they did a great job of giving the story line an update and making it current to today’s youth. The characters have the same personalities and attributes of attraction that the original actors did. Matthew Lillard and Rachel Leigh Cook even make an appearance! It didn’t live up to the original’s hype, for me, unfortunately. Perhaps that is just because those were my people, and I suppose that makes these ones my kids’ people. Whatever. Worth the watch—but maybe just once.

  • Available on Netflix

Television Show: Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

Some might say I’m a bit of an oddball. I would say I just really love Halloween, and spooky stuff, and all things weird. This Netflix series is all of those things and more. Christine is kind of a Martha Stewart of the…spooky variety. She shows the audience how to make beautifully creepy creations like cakes, tea services, and edible tree ornaments. She also has a host of strange Jim Henson-like creature friends who are always getting into mischief while she tries to teach us about her creations. It’s a strange show, but I suppose I’m a strange person.

  • Available on Netflix

Kid’s Television Show: Dug Days

My son is two, and I stay home with him during the daytime. It’s a fun age riding the line between constantly having to tell him, “no”, and staring at him with a big goofy grin on my face because he’s just SO wonderful. Watching him watch Dug Days does that second one to me. He just loves Dug. I’m not sure what it is—he’s not very verbal just yet—but the grin on his face when I turn it on just melts my heart. There’s only five or six shorts in the series, and they are short, but they are adorable and definitely worth the watch.

  • Available on Disney+

Audiobook: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, narrated by Amanda Leigh Cobb

I read this series a couple of years ago and truly enjoyed it. I must have talked about it quite a bit, because when my husband decided to start an audiobook series (and the book he was hoping to read was checked out), he started listening to this series. I became very excited to enjoy the story with him—a tiny book club for two. The story was just as good the second time around! I’m not a huge fan of the narration of this series, but I am glad they got the same narrator for all of the books (so far); it made it a consistent read. I’m a sucker for a few specific things in stories, and this series seems to check all of those boxes.*sigh*

Apps: Chirp Books

Are you a fan of free and inexpensive? I am a fan of free and inexpensive. Chirp is an audiobook application I learned about through their sister (e-book) company Bookbub (which you should also check out if you haven’t heard of them). After creating your account, you can select favorite genres, authors, and narrators. Based on these favorites, you will receive a daily e-mail with a list of books you can purchase at discounted prices! The only disadvantage is you have to listen to it through their app. It’s a free app and subscription, though, so I’d call that a win! All books suggested to me so far are $5 or less. You can also put audiobooks on a wish list, and the app will alert you if they ever go on sale! I, um, I’ve purchased more $5 audiobooks than I care to admit so far.

Hobbies: Spare Room Remodel

*NOT* my office but what it aspires to become

About two years ago we moved into a new place to make room for a new little addition to our family. It had everything we were searching for, if it was a little higher in the price range than we were hoping for. Anyhow, the basement was unfinished. This might be daunting for some (read me), but the benefit was worth it. I aspire to write– and when I’m not writing, I’m usually reading—so, one of the unfinished rooms in the basement has been reserved as an office/writing space for me sometime in the distant future. I guess I decided I wanted less distance, because I moved all my books back into storage and started working.

Man I underestimated the work that goes into a project like this. I was excited to paint, but forgot about the dry walling and mudding that had to occur first. I did a decent amount before deciding a garage sale to fund a professional to finish the work was probably the best idea. Now that is done, and I’m in the painting process. I love the gothic library look I’ve chosen, and I’m excited to decorate now. Again, I forgot how much work has to occur before that step can be taken, though. Baseboards, crown molding, door trim, window trim, carpeting, and installation of shelves ALL have to occur before I can decorate. Picking those items out is enjoyable, and the installation isn’t unenjoyable—but the bill that accompanies it? That’s is for the birds. So, my project is somewhere in the in-between now. Not exactly the distant future anymore, but further away from the now I was eager for. These things take time, I suppose.

ON MY RADAR: books on my “TBR” shelf, movies and television shows on my “Queue”, podcasts I’ve been eyeing but haven’t had the time to listen to yet. Things I haven’t bit the bullet and purchased, but really hope to sometime soon.

  • Books: Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul
  • Podcasts: The GIST of it; Ologies
  • TV Shows: Sexy Beasts; Tattoo Redo
  • Movies: The Fundamentals of Caring

What’s Ashley Reading?: For Your Own Good

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

First line: Entitlement has a particular stench.

Summary: Belmont Academy is the best school in town. It churns out smart and well connected students to Ivy League universities. Teddy Crutcher, an English teacher, has just won Teacher of the Year. It is a high honor, especially for someone who did not attend Belmont as a student. And as a teacher he has high hopes for his students. He wants the ones who deserve to do well to achieve great things but he must teach the students who are entitled to learn a lesson. For their own good of course. When a parent dies at a school function the Belmont community is thrown into chaos. But then another murder happens. What is going on in this prestigious school?

My Thoughts: This is fine. I liked it. The characters were mostly terrible people. They each had such strong opinions about everyone else around them and were not afraid to act on their urges. Teddy was definitely scary in a calm methodical way. He could always justify his actions. But he also seemed to make sense in some of the things he thought which is even scarier.

I felt like the book was aimed more for young adult readers. And this may be because several of the main characters were teenagers. It felt like it was missing something that her other novels had which led me to give them a higher rating.

There were plenty of little twists but the reader knows from the very beginning who is killing. It was fun to read. And the ending was satisfying. Perfect for the story and the characters involved.

FYI: Death.

Terese’s Thoughts: I Couldn’t Love You More

I Couldn’t Love You More by Esther Freud

First Line: I met you at a dance in Ilford.

Summary: No surprise given the title, this is a love story. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say, it’s a story about love. The book follows the lives of three women, Aoife, Rosaleen, and Kate. Their stories span decades and take us from Ireland to England, back and forth in time and place. We see how their lives are linked and how the choices they make have consequences inherited by the next generation. Pages are devoted to showing the daily, tender scenes of mother-daughter bonds. But we also see how these women make seemingly small decisions to keep the peace with their husbands and lose their daughters as a result, suffering in silence. Or in another case, how women unwittingly lose their daughters, pushed by impossible situations and lacking options. Although it can be a tearful read, there is enough redemption in the final pages that you don’t feel you or the characters suffered in vain.

My thoughts: I’ve read a lot of reviews that describe this book as quiet and tender, which it is. Although a lot happens, it is not dramatic. Freud does such a good job of writing it the way real life feels—how we don’t know we’re making a decision that will change the course of our lives and the lives of the ones we love; we’re just doing what seems best in the moment. I like books that feel true to life such as this one, and I was also attracted to it because of its setting in Ireland. There’s just something about that place. My mother was raised in a large, Irish-Catholic family and experienced something similar to one of the women in this book. It isn’t something we speak about, so it was a way for me to try and understand what led her to make the choices she did and imagine how she felt.