It's time for the next month of the 2017 Read & Watch Challenge!
(If you missed the initial post that explained how this works, check it out here. You can join in anytime. There's also a free checklist and reading journal you can download.)
This month's theme word is RETRO. The best thing about this challenge is that you can choose how to interpret the theme word when selecting which book to read and movie/TV show to watch for that month.
Possible interpretations of the this months' theme:
- A book that was published more than ten years ago.
- A story with a throwback theme (time-travel, 80s references, takes place in a previous decade even if it's a contemporary book)
- A book or TV show/movie from your childhood
- A non-fiction book about something from the past (or technology from that past, I'll have a rec below)
- Historical fiction or romance
- A TV show/movie from the past that's been rebooted
- A book with a retro cover
- A story or documentary about a band/singer from the past
And if you're still having trouble picking something, I've got help! Each month I invite a tastemaker, solicit reader recommendations from my reader group The Fearless Romantics, and I offer my own suggestions and what I'll be reading/watching for the challenge.
On to the recommendations, take it away Genevieve!
Tastemaker of the Month: Author Genevieve Lynne
Oh how I love a good retro story! Maybe it started when my husband and I netflixed Mad Men one week and actually felt like we’d accomplished something. Ten seasons in one week? You’re damn right that was an accomplishment!
What I recommend...
For my book recommendation I’m gonna mention a few novels. My first one is The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James. It’s set in 1920s England, and is about a young woman who takes a job helping a ghost hunter and falls in love with a wounded veteran. It started a little slow, but picked up quickly, and it is creepy you guys. Like in a good way. I’m talking what the hell was that sound?, hurry and get under the covers, sleep with the lamp on creepy. And oh mah gawd there are black crows. Everyone knows black crows mean trouble. It won two well-deserved RITAS a few years ago. What I loved about this novel is that it hit all my favorite genre buttons: romance, mystery, and thriller.
What I’ll be reading:
I’m going to be reading In the Shadow of Lakecrest. It’s about a woman who discovers her new husband has a dark and disturbing past that has to do with some family secrets she tries to uncover. I do love me a good dark family secrets story.
I’m telling everyone who will listen that they need to watch A Crime to Remember on the Investigation Discovery channel. It’s fascinating! Every episode tells the story of a crime that happened anywhere from the 1920s through the 1960s. It goes into the investigation techniques used during that time, and tells how the crime was solved. No DNA testing, no high tech equipment, no fancy chemicals. Check it out. It comes on Tuesdays, but they have the videos on their website, and they play reruns all the time.
What I’ll be watching:
Hidden Figures. Duh, right? I’m almost ashamed to admit I haven’t seen it yet. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who’s seen it has told me how wonderful it is. For those who may not know, it’s a true story about female African-American mathematicians who worked for NASA. Need I say more? I can’t wait to see it!
Thanks, Genevieve! Now on to some suggestions from readers...
Reader Group Recommendations
Stacy recommends Mary Balogh's Bedyn Saga series. She says, "this was/is my favorite series of hers. These books led me to Pride and Prejudice, which was set in the same time and had the same locations."
Yanina recommends: "Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower series and BBC'S pride and prejudice"
Martha said: "I can totally second the rec for Mary Balogh's Bedwyns. I would also put in a shoutout to the old Loveswept novels with Tami Hoag (Sarah's Sin) and Iris Johansen (Sedikhan series). And then there's Johanna Lindsey's Mallorys. I mean, if we're going retro, what's not to love about the Fabio romance covers?! And if you're gonna go to the 80's early 90's bodice ripper covers, then you gotta tackle Tom Cruise romance movies starting with Top Gun, but don't forget Days of Thunder and Far and Away. Round that out with the Wedding Singer Soundtrack, and you're good to go."
Randee said: "Princess bride. Book and movie. Both are amazing not traditional romances but super fun!"
Susan offered a book/movie combo: "I loved the Thorn Birds - book and movie. I remember thinking I could never read a book that long and then stayed up nearly all night two nights in a row to finish it."
And from readers on my Facebook page...
Connie said: "Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss most amazing romance author of all time!"
Dixie said: "The first romance that I read and that got me hooked was Seduction by Amanda Quick. Still a favorite reread."
Monica said: "Thirteen Reasons Why with its tape set makes me think of Retro and they just released the trailer for the netflix show to come out the 31st of March."
*From Roni: I read Thirteen Reasons Why years ago and it has stuck with me. Fantastic book. (And I had no idea there were coming out with a show.)
Sharla said: "If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon! My favorite old romance. Intrigue, deception, romance, woman finding the kickass within herself... and it was made into a movie in the 80's. Book is better."
HIstorical romance is actually a relatively new genre to me even though most romance readers grew up with them. I've mentioned before, but I didn't grow up reading romance. I was more a suspense and horror girl--but that's mainly because I didn't know romance novels existed, lol. So over the last few years, I've been working my way through some historical romances that people have told me are must reads and I'm totally in love. It's one of the subgenres that I've found I most consistently enjoy. So here are a few that could work for this month's theme.
Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas
This is one that was recommended to me multiple times and finally I listened. I'm so glad I did. This one got me out of a reading slump last fall. The heroine falls for a servant when they're teens and everything falls apart. He's sent away to a rough life and he thinks she did it. He comes back as a grown man who has become successful in his own right and is now out for revenge. So good.
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Widowed heroine and a hero who has Asperger Syndrome (though he's called mad because they didn't know how to define it back then.) This one was so well done. Super steamy, a mystery woven in, unique characters, and the Asperger aspect was handled well (my son's on the spectrum, so I'm always sensitive to how it's portrayed.) It was one of my few 5-star reads last year.
If you haven't seen this, you are completely missing out. (I'm probably one of the ones who told Genevieve to get her butt to the movies, lol.) Go. Now. So well done, fantastic acting, and a story that will make you cheer aloud. When I saw it, the entire theater applauded and whooped. I can't remember the last time I've had that happen in a movie. Even my nine-year old who sometimes has trouble staying focused for a "non-kid" movie was into it. (Though I had to do a little whisper-explaining along the way.) He just learned about civil rights and MLK so it was a great movie to add to that.
Fuller House (Netflix Original)
When I saw that Netflix was doing a reboot of Full House with the kids from the original cast (along with regular appearances by the entire cast), I couldn't resist because it was one of my favorite shows growing up. However, I had pretty big doubts that it'd be any good. It's hard to recapture something like that. I was wrong. I've gobbled up both seasons like candy. They somehow manage to embrace the original schtick of the show (including the requisite the group hugs and cheesiness) and it totally works. There are also nods to old episodes and inside jokes. There is also an appearance by the New Kids on the Block. I mean, come on, how can a child of the 80s/90s resist? Things are stressful in the world right now, so this is a show to go to when you just want to laugh and feel warm and fuzzy. It's also a show you can watch with your kids, which is hard to find these days.
What I'll Be Reading and Watching
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is a book I chose from the Book of the Month Club and I've started but not gotten too deep into it. The premise is futuristic, which doesn't seem like it'd fit the retro them, BUT it's all about 80s references.
Here's the summary because it's hard to explain:
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
But that "obsession with pop culture" it mentions is an obsession with the 80s. Wade has to basically devote his life to studying pop culture from the 1980s to solve the game. So if you're a child of the 80s, your head is going to spin with all the references. Like I said, I started this one, but haven't gotten too deep into it. I'm hoping to fix that this month.
As someone who is dedicated to her paper planner, reads more paper books than digital, and has vinyl albums on her wall, this book is speaking to me. I've read a little so far and am finding it fascinating.
Texas Glory by Lorraine Heath
I read Texas Destiny this past week. I'm not sure if I've ever read a historical western romance before, but I loved this one. It's old school so there's head-hopping to get used to but it was a great story. I'll probably blog about it more on Friday. But I've bought Texas Glory, the next book in the series, and hope to get to it this month.
Gilmore Girls (on Netflix)
I am apparently one of the few ladies in my age group who totally missed this show when it originally aired. I'm fixing that now. I'm about 6 episodes into season one and loving it.
I've never seen it. I know, I know. I need to fix that. I'm taking the recs from my reader group and putting this on my list. :)
Update: What I Read/Watched for the January Challenge of BEGIN:
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (I raved about it here.)
OJ: Made In America (Almost done with this one. It's up for a number of awards and is very well done. It's not simply about the trial but delves into so many other things. I thought this might be redundant because we already watched The People vs. OJ which was excellent, but this is documentary style and incorporates so much more than just the trial.
Missed January's recommendations? Check them out here.
Thanks to our Tastemaker of the Month - Genevieve Lynne!
In Bokchito, Oklahoma, you know everyone and trust no one…
Emily Matthews swore she’d never expose her son Jack to her dysfunctional family that sent her running from Bokchito at only seventeen. The sins of her past still haunt her, but when her brother lands in jail, she has no choice but to go back and face her old demons.
Miller Anderson has never forgotten about the girl who ran out of his life thirteen years ago…
And with the secret he’s keeping from Emily, he knows he most likely never will. But when his daughter Abby plays matchmaker to set him up with his lost love, he can’t resist the resurgence of emotion that has them reliving their high school glory days.
Evil has a way of waiting for what it wants…
Just when Emily and Miller discover their old flame hasn’t died, they learn another fire has been smoldering in Bokchito. Her family’s long line of sins, kindled with a generation-old grudge, ignites when Emily discovers the truth about Miller’s daughter and is forced to choose between protecting Miller’s secret and the one thing she can’t afford to lose…her son Jack.
Caught up in a game of lies and dirt road scandal, Emily must risk everything to save her son and preserve Miller’s good name, or let her family’s darkest secret ruin them both.
Free on Kindle Unlimited or buy for 3.99 or get it in the boxed set, on sale today for only 99 cents!
So who's in for this month? What are you going to be reading and watching? For those who did it last month, how'd your January challenge go?