31 January 2013

Return of the Movies post

When I was tallying up my favorite things from 2012, I had a lot of problems with the movies portion after i named off the few i'd purchased or just recently seen.  I have decided to return to quickie movie posts as I do like remembering what i've seen.  I think if i set up a monthly one that might be easiest.

Paranorman: I loved this one!  Boy who can see ghosts is bullied by friends and family until he must save the town when a witch's curse causes the dead to rise from their graves!  It was so clever and funny and subversive!  a 6.

Indie Game: The Movie:  interesting and really made me appreciate Super Meat Boy! a 5. 

The 7% Solution:  I read this book last year and recently noticed the movie on cable.  I think it was pretty faithful to the book and I liked it.  a 5.

Looper: AMAZING!  Next time I see a movie that i am pretty sure we will like i am going to drag B to it if I have to.  We missed it in the summer because he's just not as much for going to the movies as I am but this one would have been worth it. 7!

The Watch: not as bad as I thought it would be.  parts were funny.  a 5.

Downton Abbey Season 1: B and I watched this over a couple days.  For sucking me in against my will, a 7.

Downton Abbey Season 2:  and we then watched this season over the next week.  also very good tv, though B keeps exclaiming "It's just a soap opera!"  another 7.  

The Amazing Spider-Man: ok.   It wasn't bad but seemed a lot darker in tone than the first Sam Raimi one.  B and I both had the "why did they make this" reaction.  The filmmakers didn't say anything new or even have a different "take" on the material.  They seemed to take the first movie, swap out the villain and the girlfriend with different characters, change a couple details, and they had the script.  I will admit it was very pretty to see and great 3d which makes it a 4 instead of a 3.  

29 January 2013

200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice

So I reread it by listening to it.  I think, in times of stress, I do wish to reach back to a familiar fictional worlds.  There's research on it,though my preferred medium is books.  There are a few that I keep coming back to again and again; Pride and Prejudice is one of them.  It is one that has grown on me as an adult.  I know I read it in my teens and may have read it again in college.  But it seems the last 12 years or so i've read and reread this book.  For whatever reason, I haven't been attracted to any of the sequels or rewritings.  i guess the original, in all it's perfection, is the one for me.

26 January 2013

Why did no one tell me Charlotte's Web is sad?!?

I'm taking a children's lit class this semester. One of the required books is Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.  I've never read it and, as far as I can remember, I've never seen any of movies or cartoons.  So I was completely blindsided by the ending of Charlotte's Web.  B had been out on the deck reading and he came in to find me sobbing and a bit of a mess.  He knew the ending but hadn't realized I had not known.  

Oh well.  I ended up liking the book as a whole.  Just be prepared!  

25 January 2013


Saw a pretty good production of Macbeth from the Nashville Shakespeare festival.  It was done in a sort of Scottish/Goth style.  The Witches were ballet dancers and had a creepy, J-Horror vibe.  It was really quite good and a fun night out with my buddies D and C! 

21 January 2013

The Good Son

The Good Son by Michael Gruber isn't the sort of book that I usually read.  It is an espionage thriller.  Sort of.  It does take place mostly in the Middle East, in Pakistan.  Sonia Laghari is an American Catholic who, in the 70's, married a Pakistani man, moved to his home, converted to Islam and then ended up writing a couple books that scandalized the Islamic world.  Now, she is a psychotherapist heading a conference on peace in the Middle East.  When the conference becomes hostages to terrorists, Sonia uses her knowledge to get into the terrorist's heads while her son Theo, a black ops Intelligence agent, tries to formulate a rescue.

It works.  It's twisty and devious and really quite good.  Half the story is told from a third person limited perspective, while half is first person narration.  I had thought that the narration perspectives might give away who lives or dies in the book but it really doesn't give anything away.  There's psychodrama, and action, and spycraft and trippy spiritual stuff.  I highly recommend it.  a 6!

19 January 2013

I Read Kick Ass and Loose a Few Geek Points

I read Kick-Ass by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.  as well as Kick-Ass 2 by the same author and illustrator.  I really loved the movie and figured I would enjoy the comics and get a jump on the new movie, coming out this summer. Unfortunately, I didn't like the comic as much as the movie.  It is darker, way darker, and more sad and just so much lower.  I liked Big Daddy and Hit Girl's backstory from the movie better, as well as the girlfriend story.  I'm still going to watch and probably enjoy the new movie which comes out this summer.  A 4 for the first volume and a 5 for the second.

18 January 2013

YA Jack the Ripper Novel

First question, what modern novel, set today, with the main character an American in a British boarding school, never even mentions Harry Potter?  The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. No "I knew it wouldn't look like Hogwarts but...", no "when I put on my uniform, I grabbed a pencil, swished it at a pillow and said 'Wingardium Leviosa!'".  Not a reference at all.  This book definitely takes place after 2010 as it specifically mentions Amy Pond in her police woman kissogram outfit from Doctor Who.  It is strange that I went along with the rest of the novel, believing that a girl who'd always lived in small town Louisiana would voluntarily move overseas for her senior year of high school, suspending my disbelief about how quickly she integrated into school, accepting ghosts as real beings who could interact with solid matter, but found it unbelievable that this American would not drop a hint about Harry Potter.  

Anyway, it isn't a bad novel.  Rory Deveaux moves to London for her senior year when her parents get jobs in England.  She arrives right as a Jack the Ripper copycat begins murdering people, which does curtail her sightseeing.  She begins to see ghosts, which she doesn't realize for a long while, and becomes embroiled in the Ripper investigation.  It is a solid book, moves quickly, and has an interesting mystery.  I would say a 5 as it is better than just tolerable. 

FYI, book 2 comes out in about a month. 

13 January 2013

Bad Science!

I finished Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks and Big Pharma Flacks by Ben Goldacre.  Not sure why I am on such a science non-fiction kick.  I do know that I originally requested the book because Ana over at things mean a lot mentioned either the author or the book or both.  It is an amazing, well written book.  It isn't just about science denial; it actually teaches the reader about the scientific method.  He starts with explaining how those "detox" spas work and showing you how, if you don't believe him, you can test for yourself.  He moves on to homeopathy, nutritionists (the ones who sell people on olive oil or pomegranates or megadoses of vitamins, not the ones that teach diabetic people how to change their diets), and the MMR antivaccination crowd. There's a whole chapter about the placebo effect that is fascinating.  I will say that much of it is at a rather basic level. I learned things and would say that someone who is less interested in medicine and science would learn a bit more.  I kinda want to buy it in bulk and pass it out to people.  Is it too late to get this on the World Book Night list?  a 7 and you really really should read it. 

07 January 2013

Denying Science

My second ILL book down!  I finished Denying Science: Conspiracy Theories, Media Distortions, and the War Against Reality by John GrantIt is a very serious look at the modern science denial movement.  There's a large section on global warming denialism but the book also looks at antivaccination, creationism, the South African AIDS crisis, and others.  I didn't even know about the South African AIDS thing before reading this book but it is shocking.  Essentially, the South African president's position on AIDS in the late 90's through 00's was that HIV didn't cause AIDS and that it could be cured with vitamins, roots and olive oil.  Here's a kinda overview.    

The tone is pretty strident and snarky, which could put some people off, and I wouldn't say this book is aimed to convince a layman.  It also doesn't give solutions.  It is comprehensive and detailed book that's well worth reading though.  a 6.

06 January 2013

Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge

I decided to join the World's Without End Women of Genre Fiction reading challenge when i realized i already had 10, new to me, female-authored genre books sitting on my shelves at this very moment!  I can also read at least two for class this semester as I'm taking children's literature (below age 12) and have to read several books for that class that I get to choose myself.  Plus I have Young Adult Lit coming up in the summer and again there will be heavy reading.  If nothing else, succeeding at this will get 10 books off my TBR! Here's my list: 

  • Susanna Clarke
  • Nancy Farmer
  • Cornelia Funke
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Patricia McKillip
  • Robin McKinley
  • Kate Elliot
  • Beth Revis
  • Maggie Stiefvater
  • Elizabeth Bear
 Want to jump in? You have to join World's Without End, it's free.  You choose 12 different female authors that you haven't read before, though they don't have to be done in advance and that can be changed anytime, and one has to be a randomly selected.  I haven't decided how to figure out my random one just yet as well as my 12th.  There's a big range of authors from classic sci-fi, romancey alternate history, to high fantasy and steampunk.  Hop over and sign up!

04 January 2013

A Universe from Nothing

Another science non-fiction book finished!  A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence Krauss is a very short but idea heavy book.  Krauss essentially sums up science's current answer to the question: why is there anything?  He begins with the question, then backs up to teach the reader some physics and cosmology, which is quite interesting. Then the last few chapters deal with the answer.  A great overview of the state of current thinking on the subject.  a 5 from me!

Ending with a longish quote:
Why is there something rather than nothing?  Ultimately, this question may be no more significant or profound than asking why some flowers are red and some are blue.  "Something" may always come from nothing.  It may be required, independent of the underlying nature of reality. Or perhaps "something" may not be very special or even very common in the multiverse.  Either way, what is really useful is not pondering this question, but rather participating in the exciting voyage of discovery that may reveal specifically how the universe in which we live evolved and is evolving and the processes that ultimately operationally govern our existence.  That is why we have science.  

Yay science!