Wednesday, May 31, 2017

media update: May

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.


1. The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda:  After her career implodes in a spectacular fashion, Leah Stevens impulsively relocates to a small town with her old friend Emmy.  Shortly after they arrive, a woman who looks like Leah is attacked and left for dead and Emmy goes missing, and Leah discovers that pretty much everyone she knows has something to hide.

2. Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis:  Khosa was born to be the Given, which means that once she has a child, she'll be sacrificed to the sea to protect her kingdom from flooding.  Needless to say, she's not real thrilled with her destiny.

3. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins:  After her sister commits suicide at a spot notorious for such events, Jules reluctantly returns to her hometown and discovers there's a whole lot of nasty shit going on.  It was a bit of a slog, to be honest.

4. A Court of Wings and Ruin* by Sarah J. Maas:  This is the latest in the series, so I can't properly review it lest I spoil its predecessors.

Side note:  it's interesting that the main character's name, Feyre, could be pronounced so many different ways: fair, fairy, fire, Farrah, fiery.  (According to the internet,  it's FAY-ruh.)

5. Skitter by Ezekiel Boone:  This is the sequel to spider apocalypse novel The Hatching, so I can't give it a proper review lest I spoil its predecessor.  It wasn't as good as the previous book, largely because it was sorely lacking in spider action.  (This is the only time you will ever hear me criticizing something for not having enough spiders!)

6. Virgin by Radhika Sanghani:  Ellie is a 21-year-old virgin who's determined to change that fact.  Not particularly good, so don't pay attention to the blurb from Joan Rivers (this is not a recent book, obviously) on the front cover.  I almost wonder if it's from someone who just happens to be named Joan Rivers, but not THE Joan Rivers.  That would be rather clever, actually; I'd respect that hustle.

7. This Is Not Over by Holly Brown:  After she stays in a rental house, Dawn receives an email from Miranda, the homeowner, telling her that she's deducted $200 from Dawn's deposit to replace stained sheets.  Dawn doesn't think she had anything to do with it, and moreover, she's pissed off at the implication that she's dirty.  Thus begins an epic catfight in which both parties refuse to budge.

2017 TOTAL SO FAR: 38


1. There Is No F*cking Secret: Letters from a Badass Bitch* by Kelly Osbourne:  In this memoir, written in epistolary form, the reality TV star reflects on everything from life with her (in)famous family to her struggles with drugs and alcohol.  Highly entertaining and often quite funny.

Side note: the censorship is in the original title; I obviously have no problem typing "fuck"!

2. The Fact of a Body** by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich:  The author had always been against the death penalty, so when she started an internship working to help people accused of murder, she was shocked when she learned about a case and instantly wanted the defendant to die.  She decided to dig deeper into the case of Ricky Langley, convicted of murdering a young boy, and in the process started to come to terms with her own complicated past.  Absolutely gripping.

3. One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter* by Scacchi Koul:  An excellent collection of essays covering everything from racism to the joys (and horrors) of the internet.

4. Priestdaddy* by Patricia Lockwood:   After a medical crisis wiped out their finances, the author and her husband Jason moved back in with her eccentric family, including her guitar playing, frequently semi-naked father, a Catholic priest.  (Despite being married with children, he got ordained through a loophole.)  Extremely funny and occasionally moving (especially the chapter called "Abortion Barbie"), and practically every page has a quotable line.  (One of my favorites: Jason sees an extremely gory crucifix on her parents' dining room wall and says "It looks like someone screamed into a ribeye."  Another favorite is when she has a sip of a particularly strong drink and says "It tastes like being thrown through a window.")

2017 TOTAL SO FAR: 14


1. Erased* by Kei Sanbe

2. Monstress** by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda:  This series is so fucking good oh my god.  The art is spectacular, the world-building is fantastic, and I absolutely adore Kippa, the little fox-girl who's sweet but no pushover.  (If anything ever happens to her---not a spoiler---my heart will fall out of my asshole.)  Definitely give this a look if you like graphic novels.

3. So Cute It Hurts!! vol. 12 by Go Ikeyamada

4. My Love Story!!** vol. 12 by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko:  I think this series is only topped by Persona 4 and Harry Potter in terms of having characters I'd kill to be friends with in real life.

2017 TOTAL SO FAR:  17 volumes of manga and 4 graphic novels


1. The Conjuring 2:  Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren go to England to help a family being tormented by a demon.  Like its predecessor, it's not particularly scary aside from one scene, but it's decent.

2. A Monster Calls*:  Trying desperately to cope with his mother's impending death, young Conor (Lewis MacDougall, who's terrific) is visited by an enormous tree creature who promises to tell him three stories in exchange for the truth that Conor can't bring himself to admit.

Ooof...I mean, JFC.  I can't imagine anyone not being touched by this movie, but if you've ever loved someone with a terminal illness, it's going to fucking WRECK you.  It's one of the most honest depictions of grief I've ever seen.  It bombed hard at the box office, probably because it was sold as a fantasy film for kids, but honestly, I think most kids would be traumatized by it.  For adults, though, it's beautiful and cathartic.

3. Why Him?:  Ned (Bryan Cranston) is horrified when he meets his daughter's boyfriend, tattooed tech millionaire Laird Mayhew (James Franco).  Some scenes dragged on WAAAAAY too long, but it had some very funny moments.

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:  In this movie set decades before the events of the Harry Potter series, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) visits New York and accidentally frees a horde of magical creatures.  Visually stunning, but they took far too long to make Newt a sympathetic character.

5. Split*:  In M. Night Shyamalan's latest, James McAvoy plays a man with dissociative identity disorder who kidnaps three teenage girls to fulfill the needs of his newest (and extremely dangerous) identity, "The Beast".  I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, mainly because I had a few things ruined for me, but it was still quite good, and James McAvoy was excellent.

6. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract:  Pardon this extremely generic write-up, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers for those of you who might care:  the Teen Titans battle a new threat.  Fairly standard animated DCU fare, but it had some good (and surprisingly adult) lines.

7. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas:  After the goddess of chaos steals an important book and frames Sinbad for it, he has to find it before his childhood friend Proteus (who nobly offers himself as collateral) is killed.  The inclusion of this older Dreamworks movie on my list probably has you wondering "Da fuq?", but it had just started on HBO when we were channel surfing and we got sucked into it.  It's not GREAT, and Brad Pitt is a terrible voice actor, but it was fun.

8. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter:  Promise?

9. My Life as a Zucchini*:  After his mother dies, Zucchini (not his real name, but the one he prefers to go by) is sent to an orphanage, where he begins to rebuild his life.  We only watched this because it was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, and we're glad we did; it was really sweet and touching.

10. Rings:  Set 13 years after The Ring, this movie follows...oh, who cares.  This movie was BALLLLLLLLLS and I'm angry I wasted almost 2 hours of my precious life on it.  Please do not make the same mistake.

11. Ocean Waves:  In this melancholy animated film, a high school student's world is turned upside down by an enigmatic transfer student.  It's not bad, but it's for Ghibli completionists only.  (I was thrilled to hear Toshihiko Seki, though; he's one of my favorite Japanese voice actors.)

2017 TOTAL SO FAR: 37