Tuesday, November 01, 2016

media update: October

Hey folks, what's the haps?  Not a whole lot is new with me, although there is a light at the end of the shit chute that is my job.  (Quick recap: a reorg meant all phones all the time for me and my fellow cube jockeys.)  But hark!  New boss emailed me and asked if I would be willing to work on a project that would keep me off phones 100% of the time.  I was like "Lady, unless the project involves crush videos, I'm your gal!"  (paraphrased)

Well, because absolutely nothing can ever be easy, the new project sucks balls.  It involves proprietary software that I've never used before, and it's about as user friendly as a barbed wire toilet seat.  I don't consider myself to be particularly stupid (math excepted), but this is making me feel like a real goddamn dunce.  I'm going to suck up my pride and ask for help tomorrow, because I don't want to go back on phones.  Shit, I had to log into phones today because the call volume was unusually high, and I was very quickly reminded WHY I hate phones so much.  Prime example, though not from today: a woman called and was pissed that Hertz gave her a Mercedes rental instead of a Jaguar (pronounced "JAG-you-are", because of course) and, AND, the car was "filthy".  I expressed empathy because we're supposed to even if we don't give a shit (and believe me, barring a fatality/serious injury call, we DON'T) and she said "Someone left a MAP in the glove compartment."  Oh no!  Not a MAP!!!!!!  God, the way she built up to this horrifying revelation, I thought she was going to say she found a turd or used condom in the car.

Despite taking 4 glorious days off as staycation, I didn't get much reading done this month, at least by my lofty standards.  The reasons are twofold:  SoCal's heat wave FINALLY eased up, which meant I walked on my work breaks instead of reading, and goddamn fucking Hidden City.  It's a downloadable game where you find hidden objects in crowded scenes.  It's got beautiful art and the barest of storylines, and in addition to the hidden object sections, it also has three minigames (as far as I know, anyway): a Minesweeper ripoff, a Bejeweled ripoff, and a memory card game.  It's about as addictive as black tar heroin and if the energy wasn't limited (i.e. once it runs out, you have to wait a while to play again, and it reups SLOOOOOOW), I would probably do little else.  I got G-Vo hooked on it and I feel so bad about it.  Don't download it.  It will eat your life.  Say nope to dope, ugh to drugs, and...uh...tough titty to Hidden City?  IDK IDK.

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


1. A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess:  Victorian England is under attack by seven horrific creatures called the Ancients, and sorcerers are the only hope of killing the creatures.  Henrietta Howel is the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years, and as such is the prophesied "chosen one" who will end the fight once and for all, but she might not be up to the task.  The author's acknowledgements mention that a friend referred to this book as "Victorian Cthulu Harry Potter", which is pretty much dead on.  Mind you, it's nowhere near as good as the Harry Potter books, but despite a slow start, it got pretty good by the end.

2. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: This is the sequel to Six of Crows, so I can't review it properly lest I spoil its predecessor.

3. The Regulars by Georgia Clark:  Evie, Krista, and Willow are best friends and "regular" women who are trying to get by in New York City.  One day Krista is approached by a woman and given a bottle of "the Pretty", a magic potion that turns all of them spectacularly gorgeous.  Needless to say, the process has major complications, and shitting their pants during transformation is the least of it.  I saw this book described as a feminist fairy tale, and that description is pretty spot-on.  The writing is occasionally a bit clunky, but it's still a fun read.

4. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult:  Ruth is an African-American labor and delivery nurse who is told that the white supremacist parents of a newborn don't want her anywhere near them or their infant.  Ruth complies, but when she's the only nurse around, the baby goes into cardiac arrest and she hesitates before performing CPR.  The baby dies, and Ruth is charged with murder.  This is the first Picoult novel I've finished in a long time, and reading it, I was reminded why I peaced out on her last 3 books.  It's got an intriguing premise, but it's SO frickin' heavy-handed and melodramatic, and there's a twist near the end that sucked BAAAAAAAAAAALLS.  (I don't normally say if something has a twist because that's kind of a spoiler, but saying a Jodi Picoult book has a twist in it is like saying an M. Night Shyamalan movie has a twist in it; people expect it by now.)

5. The Black Key by Amy Ewing:  Sequel etc.

6. The Trespasser* by Tana French:  Irish detective Antoinette Conway is finding her plum gig on the Murder Squad a bit different than she expected; everybody but her partner seems to hate her, pissing in her locker and Photoshopping her face onto porno pictures.  She thinks she may have finally landed a case that will make everybody respect her, but of course there are complications.  A typically excellent thriller from Tana French, and BOY can she nail an ending.  I've read every one of her books, and I don't think there's been a single one where I didn't think the ending was perfect.

7. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things* by Bryn Greenwood:   Wavy's father is a drug dealer and her mother is mentally ill, so she's left to her own devices most of the time, which is the way she likes it.  She's obsessed with constellations, and one night she's staring up at the sky when a man passing by wrecks his motorcycle.  The man is Kellen, an associate of Wavy's father, and they form a sweet friendship that other people don't seem to understand.

Boy, is this a hard one to review, because I really don't want to spoil it.  Suffice it to say that it's beautifully written and extremely uncomfortable reading at times.  It's probably the only book I've ever read where I agreed with both the 5 star and at least one of the 1 star ratings on Amazon.

8. Arrowood* by Laura McHugh:  When Arden Arrowood was eight years old, her twin sisters vanished and were never seen again.  As an adult, Arden moves back into her family's historic house hoping to discover what really happened on the day the twins disappeared. 

2016 TOTAL SO FAR: 106


1. This Is Not My Beautiful Life by Victoria Fedden:  While her house was being renovated, the pregnant author and her husband moved into her parents' beautiful Florida mansion.  Unfortunately, she found out just where all that money came from when her parents were charged with wire fraud and money laundering.  An interesting read that will remind you that your family ain't so dysfunctional after all.  (Well, probably; I don't know your life.)

2016 TOTAL SO FAR: 18


1. A Bride's Story* vol. 8 by Kaoru Mori

2. The Demon Prince of Momochi House vol. 6 by Aya Shouoto

3. So Cute It Hurts!! vol. 9 by Go Ikeyamada

4. My Love Story!!** vol. 10 by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko:  This is by FAR my favorite currently running manga series.  The characters are just goddamn delightful!

5. Food Wars! vol. 14 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki:  Man, there sure are a lot of manga titles with exclamation points in 'em (and even double exclamation points, like #3 and #4 above.)

6. The Greatest of Marlys* by Lynda Barry

7. Say I Love You vol. 16 by Kanae Hazuki

8. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

9. Trashed by Derf Backderf

2016 TOTAL SO FAR: 18 graphic novels and 58 volumes of manga


1. The Shallows*:  While surfing, Nancy (Blake Lively) is attacked by a shark and has to fight to stay alive.  Very tense and exciting; I'm glad we didn't see this in the theater because we kept yelling at the screen!

2. The Neon Demon:  Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles to become a model and finds herself the target of jealous bitches in this visually stunning but heavy handed and poorly acted flick.  My friend Ruth said it was like Showgirls without the laughs, which is spot on.  Please see my previous two entries if you'd like a more detailed (and, fair warning, spoiler-filled) review.

3. The Jungle Book*:  In this live action (well, sort of!) adaptation of the classic novel/Disney cartoon, man-cub Mowgli explores his jungle home with his animal friends and tries to avoid the very nasty tiger Shere Khan in the process.  The CGI is fantastic, and I appreciated the fact that it didn't end the same way as the animated movie did.

4. Neighbors 2:  Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are about to sell their house, but a sorority moves in next door, putting the sale in jeopardy.  Fortunately, their former nemesis (Zac Efron) is willing to help them drive the sorority away.  Uneven in several spots, but often very funny.

5. Ghostbusters:  Hoo boy.  I WANTED to like this reboot, because it passes the Bechdel test in spades and it has such a great cast and it got so much hate before it even came out, but it just was not good at all.

6. The Big Short*:  A group of people working in finance predict the housing bubble collapse of 2008, and they decide to bet against the banks and make a fortune.  Fascinating and surprisingly funny; it won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, and rightfully so.

7. Dead Rising: Endgame:  Reporter Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) discovers that the government and pharmaceutical giant Phenotrans are in cahoots to profit off the zombie apocalypse, and he must expose the plot before millions of people are killed.  Nowhere near as good as the first movie, largely because they took it way too seriously (and if you've ever played the Dead Rising games, you KNOW how wonderfully goofy they are), and the zombie action takes way too long to get started, but it has its moments.  Currently streaming for free on Crackle, although you will have to sit through the same McDonald's/Call of Duty ads over and over again.

8. The Purge: Election Year:  A presidential candidate vows to eliminate the Purge (a yearly occasion when all crimes are legal for 12 hours), which puts her squarely in the crosshairs on Purge Night.  Scary, but nowhere near as scary as this ACTUAL election year.

Side note:  one thing I appreciate about the Purge series is that although all crime is legal on Purge night, they've never shown or even hinted at sexual assault, which I really appreciate.  (I could be forgetting something, so please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this, and I'm not just saying that.)

2016 TOTAL SO FAR: 90