From young adult mysteries to true crime on Netflix, I’m taking a look back and sharing everything I read and watched in February.
Hello there, dreamer! Lest you think by the cover photo of this post that I’m currently lounging poolside in sunny Naples, Florida…I am not. Today? It’s actually 16 degrees outside my winter with snow on the ground. I have a space heater blasting away, about 10 layers of clothing on and my chilled fingers wrapped around a piping hot cup of coffee.
Needless to say, March has arrived but so far – spring as not! And Toto I’m definitely not in Florida anymore.
On a brighter note, I’m back today with another round up of everything I read and watched in a month! In January, I kicked off this new series as a means to help be keep better track of everything I read and watch in 2019. My hope is that these posts will be fun to look back on at the end of the year – but they also give me the chance to share with you what I’ve been absorbing of late. January definitely got off to a bit of a slow start as I managed to read only one book…but I’m happy to report in February I TRIPLED that number.
Okay, I get it. Three isn’t exactly the most earth shattering number of books read in a month. My younger avid reader self would definitely be laughing at me right now. But, nonetheless I’m happy to celebrate progress.
Everything I Read and Watched in February
Mid-month, I escaped to Florida for a week and was on the hunt for the perfect “beach read”. What I decided on was a duology by Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard. The spin-off from the show debuts this month and to prepare, I thought another round of murder and girls with secrets to hide sounded would make for some good fun on vacation.
Viewing wise, crime was also clearly on my mind as I watched both hit Netflix documentaries Abducted in Plain Sight and Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.
Fear not though, this list is not all blood and gore. I did also read a bestselling memoir, see a classic historical drama and learn even more about Ruth Bader Ginsberg in On the Basis of Sex.
What I Read in February 2019
The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard
Five high school students (Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie and Parker) are all driven to be perfect – no matter the cost. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they discover that they share a hate for the same person: Nolan Hotchkiss. Each girl has been wronged in their own way by Nolan and they bond while jokingly coming up with the perfect plan to murder him. Obviously they’d never actually go through with their plan, right? But, when Nolan turns up dead in the exact way they discussed suspicion is on the rise. If they didn’t do it – who did?
As I mentioned above, I picked this up for my trip to Florida. It’s the focus of the upcoming Pretty Little Liars spinoff that debuts next month and sounded like fun. Murder, mystery and secrets always make for an intriguing read! If you enjoyed PLL, I think you’ll also really enjoy giving this two-book series. It’s super fast-paced and has great atmosphere. I liked how each girl has different backgrounds and interests…but are all connected through Nolan. One of the girls (Julie) lives with a hoarding mother which I also found to be a really interest topic of discussion to explore.
The Good Girls by Sara Shepard
Sequel to The Perfectionists, The Good Girls continues the story of Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie and Parker that Sara Shepard expertly setup in the first book. As it turns out, Nolan Hotchkiss wasn’t the only person these gals fantasized about killing off. When the body count continues to rise and the police zero in on the girls, it’s looking more and more as though they’re being framed by someone close to them. The Good Girls includes a lot of fun twists and turns, all building up to a haunting conclusion.
The Good Girls was a great conclusion to this duology and managed to provide a satisfying answer to all my questions – while also leaving me wanting more. Sara Shepard is a highly imaginative writer and does a great job weaving a twisted storyline that I definitely did not see coming from the start. Obviously I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I do recommend you pick both these books up if you’re in the mood for a more light-hearted mystery that will keep you guessing.
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
The longer title of this includes “Stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be” so quite obviously it’s meant to be a motivational read.
Rachel Hollis is founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company. While growing her online community, she shares advice on how to live a better life…all while sharing the messiness of her own in an endearing way. Girl, Wash Your Face is a conversational read where she explores everything she’s learned through the years in building her career, developing an honest relationship with herself, motherhood and more.
I’ll start by saying I read this from start to finish in one sitting. It’s been a while since I could say that about a book and I think speaks well to what kind of reading experience I had. Rachel’s writing style is very chatty and while she shares advice – none of it comes off as preachy. From cover to cover, she explores a wide range of topics and shares practical experience from her own career and family life. One area that really resonated with me was when she discussed the importance of not canceling on yourself.
As I’m not a mother and don’t have any plans to be, those chapters didn’t have as much relevance for me…but at the same time Rachel does a great job at keeping things on a level that’s relatable even if you don’t have kids. After seeing this book again and again on bestseller lists and in magazines, I’m glad I finally gave it a read. I don’t think I’ll be signing up to read anything and everything by Rachel in the future, but this was an enjoyable read with some good food for thought.
What I Watched in February 2019
On the Basis of Sex
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (played by Felicity Jones) is a struggling attorney and new mother who faces adversity and numerous obstacles in her fight for equal rights. When Ruth takes on a groundbreaking tax case with her husband, attorney Martin Ginsburg, she knows it could change the direction of her career and the way the courts view gender discrimination.
Given that I saw the outstanding documentary RGB recently, I honestly didn’t feel a strong need to see On the Basis of Sex. But when the opportunity arose on a vacation to see it with family, I headed into the theater and boy am I glad I did!
Felicity Jones was absolutely perfect as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the film hit the nail on the head in discussing the earlier parts of her career. You could feel Ruth’s frustration as she’s turned down again and again on job interviews because of her sex. Studying law at Harvard and Columbia would no doubt open doors for men, but she was forced to settle into life as a professor. That is, of course, till an interesting case falls in her lap where a single man is discriminated against by tax law. She and her husband take on the case with the ACLU in hopes of blowing all laws of gender discrimination out of the water. Psst: the ending of this film might bring a tear of pride to your eye!
Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix)
Synopsis: Set in the 1970s, this Netflix true-crime documentary tells the story of a naive Idaho family whose daughter is abducted by a neighbor and trusted family friend…twice.
Obviously I don’t want to give anything away and I think this documentary is better watched if you go into it knowing next to nothing, but boy did this make my jaw drop again…and again…and again. I watched this with my grandma and we were absolutely horrified at how two parents could possibly be so naive. It was an eye-opening, at times infuriating, watch that we simply couldn’t look away from.
This is definitely one to watch if you’re looking to have your socks rocked off because WOW is it a story! Wow.
Conversations with a Killer: Ted Bundy (Netflix)
Ted Bundy is one of America’s most notorious and alluring serial killers. He was convicted on the deaths of more than 30 female victims in 1978 and served time in prison before he was executed in 1989. While in prison, he participated in recorded interviews with a journalist and this four-part documentary series uses those tapes to share details of his crimes from Bundy himself. The series also includes on-camera interviews with investigators and experts on his case.
After finishing Abducted in Plain Sight…I went for something much more light hearted. (Jokes.) Seriously though, I thought I knew quite a bit about Ted Bundy….till watching this series.Ultimately, the series explored so many avenues of his case that I never even know about. If you’re a true-crime lover, I definitely dub this series a must-watch. It’s up there with HBO’s The Jinx as one of my favorite docu-series of all time now. I will warn you, though, it’s quite troubling to watch.
Based on Ian McEwan’s book, Atonement follows the lives of young lovers Cecilia Tallis (played by Keira Knightley) and Robbie Turner (James McCoy). When the young couple are torn apart by a lie constructed by Cecilia’s jealous younger sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan), all three of them must deal with the consequences. While serving in World War II, Robbie crosses paths with Cecilia once again. Is there hope for them?
A while back, I read a good half of Atonement before setting it down and somehow never getting back to it. Whoops! When Valentine’s Day rolled around, I thought this would be a great thing to watch with my grandma as it seemed like a sweeping romance. In the end, I wouldn’t really call this the most uplifting film to watch on Valentine’s Day…but it’s definitely one that I guarantee will stick with me. It’s a powerful demonstration of how one simple lie can have the power to change the course of someone’s life and how one might never truly get the change to atone for their mistake. I know the film has received quite a lot of praise and there’s a good chance you may have already seen it – but if you have not, I highly recommend! The wartime scenes alone will take your breath away.
What Did You Read & Watch in February?
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