media upate: April
Hoo boy, folks, April was a real sticky turd of a month. My brother spent four days in the hospital, and although I don't want to share the details because they're not mine TO share, I will say that he's better now. Shortly after that crisis passed, the Baltimore riots broke out, and we spent a tense couple of hours trying to find out if my stepsister and her family were safe; they basically live in the center of all the action. Fortunately, they're all okay. I'm not close to my stepsiblings---I've only met them once, at my dad's wedding---but obviously I don't want anything bad to happen to them, especially my stepnephew (is that a word?) because my dad is so head over heels in love with that kid that I don't think he would ever recover. I'm grateful that he gets to experience being a grandparent; god knows he ain't getting no babies from me!
And on a much less important, but still sad, note: the next Silent Hill game has been cancelled. Obviously, it's not a tragedy of epic proportions or anything, but that series has been an important part of my life for 16 years (!!!) and I was really looking forward to that game, especially after Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus got involved. Sigh.
Asterisks denote something that I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; double asterisks are reserved for the absolute creme de la creme. Your mileage, as ever, may vary.
1. Delicious Foods* by James Hannaham: After her husband is murdered, Darlene falls into a deep depression that she alleviates with crack. One night, she is lured into a bus with promises of a better life working on a farm called Delicious Foods. But it's not remotely what it seems, and when she fails to come home, her young son Eddie goes looking for her. I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel, because I thought (and still do) the title sucked and the fact that crack cocaine narrates some of the chapters was goofy, but I gave it a try because of the reviews, and I'm glad I did. It's brutal but beautifully written, my heart never stopped breaking for Darlene and Eddie, and the chapters narrated by crack are actually some of the best in the book.
2. Dark Rooms* by Lili Anolik: When her 16-year-old sister Nica is murdered, Grace's entire family falls apart. A fellow classmate commits suicide, and his note seems to confess to the crime, but Grace isn't convinced, and she tries to solve the murder herself. There are a couple of things that happen in this book that really, and I mean REALLY, pissed me off, but overall it was a very gripping read, so I'm still giving it a star.
3. Half Wild by Sally Green: This is a direct sequel to Half Bad, so I can't review it properly lest I spoil its predecessor. I liked it more than the first book, largely because of [assorted spoilers].
4. The Unraveling of Mercy Louis* by Keija Parssinen: The small Texas town of Port Sabine has never been the same since a refinery explosion killed dozens of people and wounded many others, and things get even worse when a dead baby is discovered in a dumpster, throwing all of the girls in town under suspicion. Mercy Louis, the high school basketball star, falls mysteriously ill, and soon many of her classmates start getting sick too...just as Mercy's strict evangelical grandmother prophesied. It's haunting, and I can't sum it up any better than this blurb on the back cover: "[It's] a pitch perfect look at where we so often go wrong in raising our girls: using religion as a weapon against female desire."
5. The Fire Sermon* by Francesca Haig: Four hundred years after a nuclear apocalypse, children are only born in pairs. One twin, the Alpha, is always perfect; the "Omega" twin always has a deformity. Omegas are branded when young and sent away to refuges or orphanages. The Alphas want to get rid of the Omegas, but there's a catch: when one twin dies, the other immediately follows. It's the first in a trilogy (but it's not YA, believe it or not), which is good because I want more.
6. Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano: This is the second book in the Internment Chronicles trilogy, so I can't review it properly lest I spoil its predecessor. I didn't much care for the first book, but decided to stick with the trilogy since I loved the Chemical Gardens series so much. Yeah, um, regretting that decision a bit. I doubt I'll read the final volume, or at most, I'll skim it to see what happens.
2015 tally so far: 21
1. Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America* by Linda Tirado: The author discusses living in poverty and rails against a system that seems to keep people there. Blisteringly funny and all too true. My family was seriously broke when I was little---I remember my mom trying to split a box of macaroni and cheese (and not a big box, either) and a can of tuna among four people---so this hit pretty close to home for me.
2015 tally so far: 6
1. Kamisama Kiss vol. 17 by Julietta Suzuki
2. Honey Blood vol. 2 (final volume) by Miko Mitsuki
3. What Did You Eat Yesterday? vol. 7 by Fumi Yoshinaga
4. Attack on Titan: Before the Fall vol. 4 by Satoshi Shiki and Ryo Suzuki
5. My Love Story!!* vol. 4 by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko
6. Outcast by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta
7. No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!** vol. 6 by Nico Tanigawa
8. Black Rose Alice vol. 3 by Setona Mizushiro
9. Rin-Ne vol. 17 by Rumiko Takahashi
10. Library Wars vol. 13 by Kiiro Yumi
11. Judge vol. 6 (final volume) by Yoshiki Tonogai
12. Love at Fourteen by Fuka Mizutani
2015 tally so far: 34 volumes of manga and 7 graphic novels
1. It Follows*: After a sexual encounter turns seriously weird, Jay finds out that she's being stalked by murderous apparitions that nobody else can see. It's incredibly creepy, and some moments had me white knuckling the armrest in the theater. It's also more clever than the typical horror movie, and led to some spirited discussions between us about how we would try to outsmart It.
2. Interstellar: Earth is falling apart thanks to drought and famine, so a group of explorers heads off to space in search of a new planet that can sustain human life. I can see why a lot of people thought the ending was an eyeroller, but it was still pretty good.
3. Starlet: Twentysomething Jane buys a thermos from a cranky old lady at a garage sale. When she takes the thermos home, she discovers several thick rolls of money at the bottom. While deciding what to do with the cash, she eventually strikes up a friendship with the old woman. Like someone on IMDB said, it's basically Harold and Maude with the genders reversed, and although it's not as good as that classic, it's better than I expected. Warning: it includes an uncensored porno scene, with full penetration, in the middle. I don't have a problem with porn, but there was absolutely no reason for it to be included; it was completely gratuitous.
4. Horrible Bosses 2: Buddies Nick, Dale, and Kurt come up with an ingenious new product, but when an investor rips them off, they decide to kidnap the investor's son and hold him for ransom. The first movie was better, but this was still pretty funny.
5. Maps to the Stars: Havana Segrand is a fading star who wants to remake the movie that made her mother a legend. While she tries to land the role, she hires a "chore whore" named Agatha to help her out with assorted tasks, but Agatha has some dark secrets. Depressing as hell, but Julianne Moore is excellent as Havana.
6. The Babadook*: Amelia is a single mother stretched to her limit, worn down by grief over her dead husband. One night she reads her son Sam a book called Mister Babadook, and Sam claims that the monster in the book is now in their house. Amelia doesn't believe Sam; big mistake. It's an almost painfully intense movie, and I liked it much better after reading the IMDB boards, because it helped clarify a few things that weren't obvious upon first viewing.
7. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies*: This is the final movie in the trilogy, so I can't review it properly lest I spoil its predecessors. To be honest, the Hobbit movies have been a bit of a letdown after the magnificent Lord of the Rings series, but I'm still giving this a star on account of some fun action scenes, Legolas, and fuckin' Thranduil riding a goddamn MOOSE y'all.
8. Big Eyes: This biopic tells the story of Margaret Keane, whose enormous eyed waifs (think anime on drugs) took the 1960s art scene by storm. Just one problem: her husband Walter took all the credit for her work. It's not bad, but someone on Netflix put it perfectly when they said it was basically a Lifetime movie with better production values. And much to my shock, Christoph Waltz was really bad as Walter! I usually think he can do no wrong, but he was so hammy that it was painful to watch.
2015 tally so far: 38
ADDED TO MY IPOD
1. "Dick of Death" by Pansy Division
2. "Beercan Boy" by Pansy Division
3. "Bill and Ted's Excellent Homosexual Adventure" by Pansy Division
4. "Jack You Off" by Pansy Division
5. "Dead Inside" by Muse
6. "Psycho" by Muse
7. "Soul Love" by David Bowie
VIDEO GAME OF THE MONTH
(NOTE: this review does not cover the bonus chapters "The Struggle" and "Little Miss".)
Unless you just now discovered my blog, you know that I've been a fan of Resident Evil from the very first game, so a new installment in the series is always a treat. I was even more excited when I found out that Claire Redfield, the star of Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica, was one of the protagonists. She was my favorite female video game character of all time until Ellie from The Last of Us came along, so I was looking forward to seeing her again.
In Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Claire has followed in the footsteps of her hunky big brother Chris and dedicated her life to preventing bioterrorism around the world. She's at a company event with Moira Burton, the estranged daughter of Barry (from the first RE game), when the party is crashed by terrorists. Claire and Moira are kidnapped and taken to an island watched over by a mysterious woman. Of course, this wouldn't be a Resident Evil game without lots of monsters and zombies complicating matters further. Moira manages to send an SOS to her father, but due to technological snafus, he doesn't get the message until 6 months later. But Barry refuses to give up hope, so he heads to the island to rescue her and Claire. When he arrives, he finds a little girl named Natalia, and she joins him on his quest.
- Excellent couch co-op. It's rare to find a game that G-Vo and I can actually play together, as opposed to taking turns, so it was a lot of fun being able to fight alongside each other.
- As I mentioned, it was great seeing Claire again. She's grown up a lot, but she's still a complete badass.
- Moira's a new addition to the series, and she is AWESOME! She gets most of the best lines. Speaking of which...
- ...there are several sly winks and nods to some of the series' goofiest moments. Even the most ardent Resident Evil fan has to admit the dialogue hasn't always been the best (like the infamous "master of unlocking" conversation from the first game), so it's nice to see that they're able to poke fun at themselves.
- The graphics were pretty good for a port of a downloadable game.
- There is a REALLY creepy area that made me nervous as hell.
- So much action oh my god. I was completely out of ammo at one point and managed to take down two particularly nasty enemies using only a crowbar. Did I feel like a fucking boss? Spoiler alert: yes. Yes, I did.
- Good voice acting has never been a hallmark of Resident Evil games, but it's surprisingly decent in this one, and Moira is just flat out good.
- If you ship a particular Resident Evil couple, you will be overjoyed by one of the unlockable emails and a little bit of dialogue near the end.
- The relationships in this game are great. Claire and Moira are a terrific team, and Barry and Natalia have a very sweet "father/daughter" dynamic.
- A couple of unfair fights.
- The split screen aspect was tiny and cut out a lot of detail.
- Those enemies that spit gunk in your face and make it impossible to see can fuck right the hell off.
- The puzzles could have used a lot more variety.
- In order to get the good ending, you have to do something that's not immediately obvious, especially if you're playing couch co-op. I inadvertently got spoiled for that moment before I even got the game, which turned out to be a good thing since I was able to alert G-Vo to what he needed to do at that point. If you want to make sure you get the good ending, and don't mind being spoiled, you'll want to look the conditions up before you play!
All in all, RE:R2 is a very fun game that fans of the series will enjoy a great deal, especially if they're already Claire fangirls/boys. I give it 7 sparkly objects out of 10.