media update: February
So I played The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC, and oh my god, it was absolutely amazing. I know a lot of people (myself included) grumbled about the $15 cost, especially considering that it's only about 3 hours long, but you know what? Would you complain about spending $15 to see a really good movie? I can't review it without massive spoilers for the original game, but please trust me: if you loved TLOU, you're going to love this too. It's gorgeous, it's exciting, it's emotional, and the voice acting is superlative. It's well worth your money and your time.
Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.
1. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd: In 19th century Charleston, Sarah Grimke receives an unusual gift for her 11th birthday: a slave girl named Handful. Sarah is appalled, but she and Handful become friends, and as Sarah gets older, she's determined to put an end to slavery.
This was an Oprah Book Club pick, which tells you pretty much all you need to know. It isn't bad, but it really started to lose my interest in the final third.
2. These Broken Stars* by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: Tarver is a war hero traveling on a luxury spaceliner, but when it's pulled out of hyperspace and crashes, he discovers that the only other survivor is Lilac LaRoux (I know, I can't handle that name either), the daughter of the galaxy's richest man. She's spoiled as hell and obnoxious, so you know what that means: love connection! It's like a mash-up of Titanic, Lost, and (oddly enough) Beyond: Two Souls, but you know what? I actually really enjoyed it, especially when the plot took a very interesting turn about halfway through. It's not cerebral reading or anything, but it's fun. I shall eagerly await the second book (because of course it's a trilogy) in December.
3. Burn* by Julianna Baggott: The final book of the Pure trilogy wraps up perfectly, making it my favorite YA dystopian trilogy series ever. Yes, even more than The Hunger Games.
4. Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd: This is a direct sequel to The Madman's Daughter, can't review it properly...you know the drill by now.
5. Killer by Jonathan Kellerman: Dr. Alex Delaware is called upon to assist with a very messy custody case that gets even uglier when one of the plaintiffs turns up dead. An entertaining mystery; Kellerman can be pretty hit or miss, but I enjoyed this one.
6. The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley: Eve's son Tyler has xeroderma pigmentosum, which basically causes him to be allergic to light. She's spent his entire life keeping him safe from harm, but when she makes a fateful decision, she puts her entire family at risk. It's very Jodi Picoult-esque, only without the irritating twists that Picoult likes to toss into her endings.
7. Fallen Women by Sandra Dallas: In 1885, socialite Beret Osmundsen heads to Denver after hearing that her estranged sister Lillie has been murdered in a brothel. Despite the warnings of her aunt and uncle, who had taken Lillie in after the sisters' falling out, and detective Mick McCauley, Beret is determined to find Lillie's killer. The writing occasionally seemed stiff, but I liked it fine.
2. Revival* vol. 2 by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton
4. Kamisama Kiss vol. 14 by Julietta Suzuki
5. Judge vol. 3 by Yoshiki Tonogai
3. Sunlight Jr.: Melissa (Naomi Watts) lives with her paraplegic boyfriend (Matt Dillon) in a seedy Florida motel. When she finds out she's pregnant, they begin to think they can turn their lives around, but it won't be that simple. It's decent, but unless you want to spend 90 minutes watching people trying to claw their way out of desperate poverty, you could probably find a more pleasant way to spend your time.
4. Despicable Me 2: I liked the original well enough, but this was weak: not very funny and not emotionally engaging at all. If there's a DM3, I think I'll take a Pasadena on it.
5. Fast & Furious 6: Plot synopsis? Who cares? All you need to know is that it has lots of cool cars driving really fast, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's enormous biceps, and a really cool stinger. It was really weird and sad seeing Paul Walker, though.
6. Carrie*: Okay, so the original was good enough that it didn't really need to be remade, but the story of bullied telekinetic teen Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her bloody revenge is still immensely satisfying. And as Carrie's religious fanatic mom, Julianne Moore is terrifying.
7. Ender's Game*: Ender's Game: Gifted teenagers are recruited by the military to prepare for battle against the Formics, a buglike alien that nearly decimated the human race. The Formics have lain low since their previous invasion, but the military doesn't want to take any chances, and young Ender may be humanity's last hope.
This movie tanked, no doubt to Orson Scott Card's ill-timed and idiotic homophobic rantings shortly before release, but it was actually pretty good if you're in the mood for some sci-fi action.
8. Captain Phillips*: The true story of how Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) survived the takeover of his cargo ship by Somalian pirates. Unbelievably tense and, as you'd expect, beautifully acted.
9. Machete Kills: This deliriously (and deliberately) cheesy sequel to the neo-grindhouse action flick has ex-Federale Machete going up against arms dealers and a psycho cartel boss. Lots of fun.
10. Blue Is the Warmest Color*: Adele is a young French woman who is mesmerized when she sees a blue-haired woman on the street. When she runs into the woman, who is named Emma, in a gay bar, they quickly form a bond and soon fall in love.
This movie was based on the graphic novel of the same name, which I read last year, and they made quite a few changes, mostly for the good. I do wish it had been a bit shorter; it was 3 hours long (and apparently there's a director's cut coming out soon that adds almost an hour!), and there were many scenes that could easily have been pared down. But the performances are amazing, so it's well worth a watch if you don't have a problem with graphic sexual content. Because let me tell you, there's a masturbation scene and a heterosexual sex scene (including a shot of an erect penis) in the first 20 minutes, and plenty of lesbian sex too, so even though it's not porn, you better be ready for how explicit it is.
Speaking of those sex scenes, be sure to have the remote handy because some of them get LOUD. I wasn't prepared for it and had to leap from the couch to turn the volume down lest my neighbors think I was having a super sexy lesbian fling in my apartment.
3. "Crown on the Ground" by Sleigh Bells
4. "Drop It Low" by Ester Dean
5. "212" by Azealia Banks feat. Lazy Jay
6. "FML" by Deadmau5
7. "Go All the Way" by The Killers