Wednesday, November 30, 2016

media update: November

Hello, everybody; I hope this finds you in fine form and that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday.  G's family (except his nephew I.), plus nephew D's girlfriend, came to California for a visit.  On Thanksgiving itself, we had dinner (underwhelming, which especially sucked because the Yelp reviews were so good) at a local joint, and on Friday, we went to the Getty.  Unfortunately, G had to work on Saturday, but the rest of us (except his parents, who were visiting friends) went to Little Tokyo, where I managed to score 12 bags of the jyaga bata chips that G and I love so much.  (They're a seasonal item, so we have to grab as many of them as we can on the rare occasions we find them!)  Afterwards, we dropped the kids (they're both 19, but I've known D since he was 7 so he'll always be a "kid" to me) off at the Greyhound station, and the rest of the group left on Sunday after the Giants/Browns game.  All in all, a lovely long weekend!

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; double asterisks are reserved for the creme de la creme.  As always, your mileage may vary.

You'll note that I don't go into much detail on some of the following titles, but that's because I honestly couldn't think of a thing to say about them.  


1. Replica by Lauren Oliver:  The most interesting thing about this book is its format: one side tells the story of a clone named Lyra and the other tells the story of a teenage girl named Gemma, and after reading one side of the story in whichever order you choose, you flip the book over and read the other.  Aside from the novelty factor, though, there's not much to recommend it.

2. The Patterns of Paper Monsters by Emma Rathbone:  Jacob Higgins is a teenage boy living in a juvenile detention facility.  While he’s there, he pines for a girl named Andrea and tries to figure out what a creepy resident named David is planning.  I still have no idea what the title means.

3. Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt:  When Lucy runs away with her high school English teacher, her sister Charlotte and guardian Iris try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

4. The Walking Dead: Search and Destroy by Jay Bonansinga:  Sequel etc., and not a very good one.  Christ, the author referred to a character as "the portly woman" three times in TWO PAGES.  We get it, Norma is portly, stop fatshaming the poor chick.

5. Paris for One by Jojo Moyes:  A novella and eight short stories by the author of Me Before You.

6. IQ* by Joe Ide:  Isaiah Quintabe is known around the neighborhood as IQ in deference to his intellect.  He solves cases and charges those who can afford it higher rates to make up for the people who can only pay him in tires and blueberry muffins, but there are far more of the latter than the former, so a job involving a rapper is just the cash cow he's been hoping for...if he doesn't get killed in the process.  Really different and enjoyable; think Sherlock Holmes in the hood.  The epilogue hints at a sequel, and I'll definitely pick that up too.

7. Chaos by Patricia Cornwell:  The discovery of a dead bicyclist turns out to have startling connections to Dr. Kay Scarpetta.  Meh for the most part, like most of Cornwell's recent novels, but the ending takes a very interesting turn.

8. The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati:  Catherine is a bipolar teenage girl who's stockpiling medication for the day that Zero (as she refers to depression) finally takes over.  But when she falls in love with a classmate and forms a close bond with a girl in her therapy group, she starts to gain hope for the future again.  Handled in a very sensitive and realistic way.

9. The Diabolic* by S.J. Kincaid:  Nemesis is a Diabolic, bred to have superhuman strength.  Her sole reason for existing is to protect Sidonia, the daughter of a galactic senator.  But when the emperor orders Sidonia to be sent to his kingdom, Nemesis undergoes body modification and goes in Sidonia's place.  I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, especially because the names are so goddamn goofy, but it was really good!   

2016 TOTAL SO FAR: 115


1. The Best of Dear Coquette: Shady Advice from a Raging Bitch Who Has No Business Answering Any of These Questions*:  I'd never heard of Dear Coquette, but I saw this on the shelf at the library and couldn't resist the title, so I had to pick it up.  Good choice!  Her advice is brutal but usually fair, and occasionally so sharply witty you could cut yourself on it.
2. Bandit by Molly Brodak:  A memoir of the author's relationship with her bank robber father.

3. On Living* by Kerry Egan:  The author, a hospice chaplain, reflects on the lessons the dying have taught her.  It may sound maudlin, preachy, or depressing, but it's absolutely not; it's very moving and thought provoking.

2016 TOTAL SO FAR:  21


1. Ajin vol. 8 by Gamon Sakurai

2. No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!* vol. 9 by Nico Tanigawa

2016 TOTAL SO FAR:  60 volumes of manga and 18 graphic novels


1. Holidays:  An anthology of horror shorts revolving around different holidays.  The best were Easter, which featured a creepy Easter bunny/Jesus hybrid (and gave me a huge jump scare; I was watching it on Netflix with headphones and just about leaped out of my skin, which of course startled the shit out of G too) and Father's Day, which reminded me of Silent Hill 2 (music and general mood, not story).

2. X-Men: Apocalypse:  The X-Men team together to fight an ancient mutant named, yup, Apocalypse.  It could have been much better if Apocalypse had been a more interesting villain (and if they hadn't buried sexy Oscar Isaac under all that blue paint and prosthetics), but it's decent enough.  As usual, Quicksilver gets the best scene by far.

3. Disconnect:  A drama about a group of people and the effect technology has had on their lives.  Interesting character studies (and some nice eye candy in the form of Alexander Skarsgard and Max Thieriot), but not required viewing or anything.

4. The Legend of Tarzan:  Now living in London under his birth name of John Clayton, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard yet again, looking particularly nffff-able) is reluctant to go back to Africa, but he's convinced by an American to go and investigate rumors of slavery. 

5. Sausage Party:  In this extremely raunchy animated flick, the sentient food items living at a grocery store are excited to go out into the "great beyond", but when they find out what really happens to them, they stage a revolt.  Not nearly as funny as it should have been, but it has its moments, and I'll give it credit for a scene that shocked even me.

Side note:  the character design for the hot dog bun freaked me out.  WHY DID IT HAVE BOOBS.

2016 TOTAL SO FAR:  95