17 September 2014

August Movies which I am super late on

Guardians of the Galaxy: this movie hit all of my sweet spots. Goofy family of choice? Check.  Females with their own character arcs and motivations? check.  Big guys with heart? check.  Scoundrel with a heart of gold? check and double check.  Great music, great effects, just a wonderful movie.  a 7. 

Inside Llewyn Davis: kinda depressing.  great music.  B liked it more than i did i think.  a 5.

Captain Phillips: again, kinda depressing.  The "bad guys" aren't particularly bad guys.  very suspenseful for a movie where you know the hero lives.  Not necessarily one I'd want to watch again but worth seeing.  a 5.

Only Lovers Left Alive:  loved it! I put this in our Netflix queue and bumped it to the top.  B asked what it was and I replied "a vampire movie with Loki in it".  We started watching it and about 20 minutes in B stopped the movie and said "I'm really liking this.  I thought it was going to be some Twilight crap but it's really good!".  :)  It is a dark movie, both in tone and in color.  Adam is a vampire living in Detroit who spends his time making music and keeping up his off-the-grid house.  Eve lives in Tangier and comes to visit when she realizes Adam is very depressed.  It's a very moody film but wonderful.  you should so see it.  a 7.

16 September 2014

Another Doctor Who book!

I got Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann off Netgalley and really enjoyed it.  This book is about the War Doctor and the events leading up to the beginning of the 50th anniversary special.  We see many of the events from the view of Cinder, a young woman who survives on a planet overrun by Daleks.  The Doctor crashes into her ambush, thereby saving her life, and she agrees to help the Doctor understand what the Daleks are doing on her planet in exchange for him taking her to some safe planet afterwards.  Of course, things don't go particularly straightforwardly.  After determining the Daleks' plan, the Doctor and Cinder head to Gallifrey to tell the Time Lords, who aren't very keen on following the Doctor's advice in dealing with it.  And there are some evil Time Lord schenanigans going on which the Doctor has to foil. 

One little thing I loved was a little throwaway line.  At one point, Cinder is remembering the happy moments in her life and remembers her first kiss, which was with another girl.  No big deal is made of it, and if you're not paying attention you might not notice it, but I love writing that normalizes LGBT experiences.  

I enjoyed this second, long look at the War Doctor.  It has lots of action, suspense, a great companion in Cinder, and a further look into the psychology of the War Doctor.  This book is definitely worth a read for Doctor Who fans.  6/7 for me!

28 August 2014

My stats so far this year

Since I have finally caught up on my book tracking, I figured I should capture my totals up to this point.  I'm pretty surprised on the audio books front; I was certain I'd listened to a few more.  I also didn't realize how few non-fiction books I've read this year.  It is interesting that about a quarter of my reading is now on my Kindle.  I know that number has been skewed by all the summer reading I've been doing; I've been reading a lot by the pool and the Kindle works well for that.  I'm also excited that at this rate I should be over 100 for the year for the first time in several years!  I know it's silly but now I WANT triple digits! 

Books Read Total: 80

Library books: 63
YA/Children's Lit: 29
Non-fiction: 6
Graphic Novels: 15
Audio books: 5
Kindle: 17

That's it so far.  off to read!

19 August 2014

A post where I list all the books I've been reading just so I can start fresh.

I don't want to do this.  Really.  Several of these books deserve long, thoughtful posts about how amazing they are.  But I am so behind on my blogging!  I'm having two problems: I have had a ridiculous amount of time to read because I'm unemployed right now and I haven't really felt like blogging.  So I've got this long backlog of titles that I've read and written down.  Whenever I do feel like blogging, I realize that i've got at least a half-dozen posts to do; I work through one or two then quit.  I'll never get caught up at this rate so I am just going to list all these books here with a line to remind myself what it is and what I rated them.
Days of Future Past: Giant X-men Graphic novel that included Days of Future Past, Days of Future Present (both of which I'd read, hell I've got Future Present in comic form in my basement) and a Wolverine Prequel to Days of Future Past.   a 7.

Young Avengers Vol 1 and 2: These were ok, the Hawkeye series is better.  a 5.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin: trials of an intersex British teen boy who's family's been keeping it a secret.  a 5.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart:(edit): very dreamy book about over privileged teens who spend whole summers on their family's private island.  I didn't like the characters at all, which made it hard for me to like the book.  a 4. 

The Reading Zone by Nancy Atwell: non-fiction book about getting kids to read, for/by reading teachers.  a 5.

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller: another non-fiction book about getting kids to read.  a 5.  

Doctor Who: Mystery of the Haunted Cottage by Derek Landy: novella, 10 and Martha get trapped in a world from a story.  Ok.  a 5.

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber: Dense novel set in Victorian England, about a prostitute and the man who's mistress she becomes. weird.  5.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: good, but not as good as The Shining.  a 6.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie: first in a series, won the Hugo, AI.  a 6 for making me think so much.

  A Study in Sherlock edited by Laurie King and Leslie Klinger: Short stories about Holmes.  some were cases, some not.  picked it up for the Gaiman story "The Case of Death and Honey".  a 6. 

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov: Amazing novel.  Not sure I understood it.  a 7.

Hard boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami: another great book that I'm not sure I understood.  I always end up talking to B about Murakami when I read him.  a 7.

The Fever by Megan Abbott:  beautiful teen girl is the first of several to have a sudden, strange illness.  Make me incredibly glad I am not a teen today and wasn't like these girls when I was that age. a 5.

going forward, I'm making a resolution to make sure I don't get this far behind again!  

16 August 2014

Rogues and Scoundrels and Scalliwags

I finished a gigantic book of short stories called Rogues, edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois. It was over 800 pages but worth the time!  Does anyone else find they read short stories more slowly than a regular novel?

The George RR Martin story, "The Rogue Prince, or, A King's Brother" was ok.  It was less a story and more a history of events in Westeros during the reign of Viserys the First.  Honestly, when things started to get really interesting the story ended!  I went online to A Wiki of Ice and Fire to determine how far before the novels all this happens and the events that follow the story.

"How the Marquis Got His Coat Back" by Neil Gaiman was fabulous and the reason I requested the book from the library in the first place.  In the novel Neverwhere, the best character is the Marquis de Carabas; in the course of the novel he loses his awesome coat.  This little story shows, well, how he got it back.  It was great to return to London Below. Sequel please?

"A Year and a Day in Old Teradane" by Scott Lynch was also amazing and made me want to read the sequel to Locke Lamora.  A group of thieves, mostly female, have a year and a day to steal a city street!  What they try and how it works out is a great tale. 

"The Lightning Tree" by Patrick Rothfuss was also very good.  I've not read his Kingkiller books but after reading this one I'm definitely going to! The writing was great and the various cons and tricks mostly fun.  There were a couple of problematic scenes, for me, that involved Bast tricking women into having sex with him (not so good on the consent front) that felt a bit jarring. Overall though, I liked the story. 

Though my favorites were fantasy, many of the stories were not.  There were more straightforward mysteries by Gillian Flynn, Bradley Denton and Walter Jon Williams.  My favorite of the non-fantasy ones was "Bent Twig" by Joe R. Lansdale.  It was a really hard-boiled detective type story and I liked the characters and the resolution.  I'll be looking him up.

I guess the best test for an anthology is if you liked it and if you'll be looking up the authors featured to read other things by them.  This books gets a yes to both. a 6. 

09 August 2014

Mystery Post!

European mystery roundup! Not sure why all the mysteries I'm reading take place over there but I'm really enjoying my virtual trip. 

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: I was so excited when I found out this one was coming out.  I actually liked it a bit better than the first book!  This one involves the book business and all the crazy behind the scenes stuff.  We learn more about the secretary Robin (but still not enough!) and spend a lot of time running about with Cormoran Strike.  I give this one a 7 and can't wait for the next book!

The Vesuvius Club and The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss: Both of these books were great fun.  Mark Gatiss writes for Sherlock and also plays Mycroft Holmes on the show.  These books are about a turn-of-the-century James Bond-type character named Lucifer Box.  Lucifer's cover is that he is an artist, a painter.  He's also bisexual and gets up to various bedroom antics in the novels. I really enjoyed the feel of these books; Gatiss is a good writer, funny and clever.  I wish there was a bit more info about the organization Box works for but otherwise I have no complaints.  a 6 for each book.

Burned by Thomas Enger: definitely the first in a series.  This book takes place in Norway.  In this one, our sleuth is a reporter for an online news generator.  He is coming back to work after a couple years off recovering from bad burns suffered in a fire that also killed his young son.  The first thing he has to report on is a murder of a young woman that has Muslim implications.  I liked the setting and the main character, Henning Juul.  I do want to know more about his past.  The mystery was fine, with a couple of really interesting subplots, but I didn't really like how the murder wrapped up.  pretty good overall and a nice read for Dragon Tattoo fans.  a 5.

Bruno, Chief of Police and The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker: so these mystery novels take place here:

so of course after reading these I want to go and drink wine and eat yummy food. Bruno is the chief of police in a small French town.  The main case in the first book is an anti-immigrant murder while the second book starts with a field fire which destroys some illegal GMO crops.  Mainly, though, the crimes are the background for a very detailed look at small town French life.  Everyone is so interconnected.  Bruno is something of an outsider (he became chief about 10 years before the first book starts, after serving in Kosovo during the UN peacekeeping missions) but has made great strides to become part of the town by teaching tennis to children, helping local small farmers, and being part of the rugby team.  So he's this interesting character who knows everyone and belongs there but can also step back to see some of the darker sides.  Both books were quick reads that I really enjoyed.  a 6 for each. 

31 July 2014

July Movies

Nebraska: B and I both liked this one. Kinda sad story about aging and life and loss of expectation.  a 6.

Nothing Lasts Forever: have you heard about the "lost" Bill Murray movie from the '80's?  this is it.  I watched it so you don't have to!   it was pretty bad. Bill Murray as a flight attendant on a flight to the moon was the best thing in it.  Dan Akroyd as an armed tunnel worker was the second best thing.  The story was nonsensical.  a 2.

Room 237:  a documentary about all the theories people have about what The Shining was really about.  It was fascinating.  The filmmaker never showed the various people but only had their audio playing over Kubrick films, The Shining and others.  Every theorist was so sure their theory was correct and never questioned that the fact that they believed it.  But each person saw their theory from their own background.  The guy who was a WW2 history scholar saw the movie as a Holocaust film.  The guy who grew up in the western US saw it as an indictment of America's treatment of Native Americans.  Really interesting.  a 5. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wonderful Wes Anderson movie.  While this movie had a pretty tight focus on the two main characters, it still explored Anderson's theme of families of choice.  It was beautifully acted and had amazing sets.  a 7.

White House Down:  Ok action movie, liked it better than Olympus Has Fallen even though Channing Tatum can't act.  a 4. 

The Bourne Legacy:  Better action movie. Jeremy Renner can act!  a 5.

Captain Phillips:  a movie that B said "was disturbing".  It is disturbing, though I can't quite put my finger on why.  You feel bad for everybody involved and I'm not sure you're supposed to?  a 6. 

Fargo: Not the movie but the TV show.  I tore through it over a weekend.  I absolutely loved it.  I loved the good guys, the bad guys, and even the idiots in between.  I enjoyed how my sympathies changed over the course of the series.  a 7.

19 July 2014

Middle Grade Batch


Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman- of course this one was awesome.  really funny story about a dad's adventures when he goes out for milk for the kids' breakfast.  a 6. 

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen- A perfect "boy" book.  Teen boy is the only survivor of a light plane crash.  He has to survive in the woods of Canada alone, with a hatchet as his only tool.  I thought the ending was a little too deus ex machina but on the whole it was not bad.  a 5.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis: book about an African American girl, Deza Malone, growing up during the Depression.  This wasn't a book for me.  The girl is our first person narrator but never really does anything, just speaks about all the things that happen around her.  She's very naive. Also, she kept saying "geologically" when she meant "geographically" and it really got on my nerves.  a 4.

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell: trying to review this now I can't remember most of the plot.  Emmy is a girl who's been more or less abandoned by her rich parents.  She has an evil nanny taking care of her.  The class rat begins talking to her and Emmy sets him free, which starts all the adventure of the book. I guess since I can't remember what happened besides the very basic facts, I must not have liked it that much.  a 4.