On the final Friday of each month, I take a look back at all the things I loved and put together this list of recommendations for you: the Friday Finale. It might include the best book I read, a particularly impressive recipe I tried, or the best thing I streamed this month. I hope these standout moments from my month inspire you to make some time for yourself looking forward!
It honestly doesn’t seem real that I’ve spent an entire month sheltering in place, but that’s the reality in Ohio right now. How’re things looking in your neck of the woods?
This month has been filled with every emotion and anxiety you could imagine. I find myself vacillating between fear for myself, my family, and my friends, guilt that I’m enjoying the extra time spent with Spencer now that we’re both working from home, sadness for all the kids missing out on important rites of passage and competitions, and anger at the way some aren’t taking this virus seriously despite the very serious death tolls.
I feel like I’ve finally settled into a quarantine routine, and I wanted to highlight a few of the things that brought me joy this month in the hopes that they’ll do the same for you. Let’s get to it!
You’re going to think I’m exaggerating, but when you get ready to read Truly Devious, you have to be sure you have quick access to the other two books in the trilogy.
I’m not joking. I bought these books and had them delivered to my house because the Cincinnati library ebook copies would’ve taken weeks to get to me. This book ends on a deliciously evil cliffhanger. I’m just trying to save you some heartache.
If you like YA fiction, you should read this book. If you like murder mysteries, you should read this book. If you like historical fiction, you should read this book. If you like heroines who are as smart and observant as Sherlock Holmes without as much of the weird, you should read this book. If you like books that play with time in an artful, deliberate way, you should read this book. Basically, you should read Truly Devious (and its sequels) because you won’t be able to put it down.
I’ll be honest with you. When Spencer first suggested watching Money Heist, I was not super into the idea. It looked way too “serious action thriller” for my current mindset (um hello, we’re in the middle of an international pandemic). But he insisted we’d just watch one episode, and the rest was history.
Money Heist (or La Casa de Papel) is a Spanish TV series about a criminal mastermind who brings together a band of criminals to help him pull off an impossible heist: print and steal billions of euros from the Royal Mint of Spain. The cast of characters is what makes this show. Everyone has a “city” name to hide their identities from one another (Rio, Denver, Moscow, Tokyo), and they’re such a unique group of individuals. Their interactions with one another create the perfect mix of high stakes action and telenovela levels of drama.
You can watch all four seasons of the dubbed version on Netflix. I also plan to check out the documentary made all about the Money Heist “phenomenon” that’s taking over the world.
At the very, tippy top of my quarantine pros list is the weekly virtual happy hour we’ve started having with my dad’s side of the family. I’m talking aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses — the entire crew.
And for the past two weeks, Spencer and I have hosted Zoom trivia with the group, thanks to Last Call Trivia. If you’re from the Cincinnati area, you’ve likely heard of Last Call Trivia because they host the best bar trivia in the city. We played every week this year up until Ohio’s shelter-in-place went into effect, and now that we’re all stuck at home, Last Call is still saving the day.
Although no one’s allowed out to play together, they provide new general trivia every week so you can host your own game with family and friends. There are even themed games like Disney, The Office, Friends, and 2000s music! (Let me know in the comments if you’d like a blog post explaining how we host trivia virtually. I can even include the spreadsheet Spencer designed, so all the math is done for you!)
Not to brag, but I feel like I’ve really gotten a handle on this whole “quarantine mullet” concept. Business on the top, comfort on the bottom!
For me, that often means a sweater or blouse and cardigan combination plus some leggings or, more often than not, these glorious joggers that give me all the 90s feels. Aerie has the best lounge wear, and these high-waisted nylon windbreaker joggers are comfy AF. They run true to size and come in three different colors, though you can’t go wrong with the neon coral.
Be warned, they are windbreaker material and will quickly alert anyone to your presence with every step. So if that’s a turn-off for you, now you know.
Technically this “best thing from the month” hasn’t happened yet, but I’m so excited about it and wanted to spread the knowledge to my fellow writers. YALLWEST, the West Coast sister to the young adult literature festival (aka YALLFest), has gone virtual! It will take place tomorrow and Sunday and is completely free. Check out the schedule and register for any author session that strikes your fancy.
I’m most excited for Modern Magic Worldbuilding, Suckage is Part of Writing (lol), Worldbuilding Beyond Wikipedia, Writing Empathy, and the Saturday evening keynote by Brandon Sanderson. I can’t wait to hear from YA authors about their creative processes, what they love about writing, and how they’re being creative in the midst of coronavirus.