Monday, January 01, 2018

media update: December

Happy New Year!  May everyone get exactly what they deserve in 2018.

Just out of curiosity, I compared the total read/watched in 2016 to 2017, and the results are in parentheses.  I was going to say that I don't know why the numbers are so much lower this year, but I think I have a guess:  Hidden City.  Now that my obsession with that game has drastically waned (I still play it every day, but not for hours at a time like I used to), it will be interesting to see if 2018's totals go up.

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. The Empress by S.J. Kincaid:  Because this is a sequel to The Diabolic, I can't review it properly without spoiling its predecessor.  It was really disappointing, though, which sucks because I loved The Diabolic so much.  Hopefully the next one is better.

2. The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli:  Asha is a dragon slaying princess with a fearsome power that will either save her world or completely destroy it.  It wasn't bad, but if this winds up being a series, I doubt I'll read any future installments.

3. A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo:  Jess is a teenage girl whose best friend, Angie, is gorgeous and popular.  When Angie starts dating Margot, a snobby girl from a prestigious boarding school, Jess begins to feel left out.  I appreciated the LGBTQ+ characters, but other than that, there wasn't much to recommend this.

4. Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra:  In order to get out of being arrested, a young woman impulsively claims that she's really Bec Winter, who had disappeared several years ago.  Bec's family is overjoyed to see her, and welcomes her with open arms, but whoever took Bec is still at large, and the impostor is in danger.  Interesting ideas, but it was hard to enjoy because I kept getting taken out of the story to marvel at how fucking stupid 99% of the people were.  Example: after "Bec" is taken to the hospital, they try to take her blood and she says no because, obviously, the blood tests will show that she's not who she claims to be.  And they're just dandy with that!  Yes, that's what would happen.

5. Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields:  Marinda is an assassin who can kill just by kissing someone, but her world is upended when her newest target turns out to be the boy she loves. 

6. Boy, 9, Missing by Nic Joseph:  When Francis was a kid, his brother drowned in the bathtub.  The only witness, Sam, was the son of his parents' friends.  23 years later, Sam's son disappears, and he thinks Francis' father had something to do with it.  

7. Ultraluminous* by Katherine Faw:  The narrator is a girlfriend-experience prostitute who's just returned from Dubai to continue plying her trade in New York City.  Her days consist of drugs and visits with her clients, including one whose demands keep escalating.  Depressing, but very well written.

Side note: if you plan on reading this, don't read the inside cover as it spoils a huge plot point that doesn't occur until the book is nearly over.  Thanks for that, anonymous blurbist!

8. The Kizuna Coast by Sujata Massey:  After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, Rei Shimura leaves her home in Hawaii to search for her mentor and finds herself caught up in a mystery.

9. The Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories by Charlaine Harris:  What it says on the tin.

TOTAL READ IN 2017:  100  (2016 total 119)


1. Hit So Hard by Patty Schemel:  A memoir by the drummer of Hole that talks about her time with the band and her struggles with addiction.  Best read with the iconic album Live Through This playing in the background.

2. Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy* by Hallie Lieberman:   As the subtitle states, this is a look at sex toys throughout history, and boy is it entertaining!  I had to overcome some significant embarrassment to check this out at the library, but I'm glad I did.

TOTAL READ IN 2017:  35  (2016 total 24)


1. The Cape by Joe Hill, Zach Howard, and Nelson Daniel

2. Food Wars!* vol. 21 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

3. Sweetness and Lightning vol. 9 by Gido Amagakure

4. Everyone's Getting Married vol. 7 by Izumi Miyazono

5. Idol Dreams vols. 2-3 by Arina Tanemura

6. No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!* vol. 11 by Nico Tanigawa

7. School-Live!* vols. 4-8 by Sadoru Chiba and Norimitsu Kaihou

TOTAL READ IN 2017:  54 volumes of manga and 16 graphic novels (2016 total 67 volumes of manga and 18 graphic novels)


1. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:  Valerian and his partner Laureline are sort of intergalactic FBI agents who are trying to retrieve a special creature that's the last of its kind.  This movie was a critical and commercial flop, so our expectations were very low, but we actually enjoyed it!  The humor is flat and the action isn't anything special, but it's absolutely gorgeous to look at.

2. Logan Lucky:  Two brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) team up with a group of ne'er-do-wells to rob a racetrack.  I didn't like it quite as much as I thought I would, considering how terrific the reviews were, but it had some funny scenes.

3. The Villainess*:  In this Korean movie, a woman trained as an elite assassin decides to take revenge on the people responsible for her father's death.  A few scenes drag on a bit, but they're more than redeemed by some really exciting action.  There's a scene near the end that had me nearly delirious with joy.  Definitely worth checking out if you love kick-ass heroines.

Side note #1: The opening scene was done in first person, which made me nervous since that tends to make me nauseated and/or give me a migraine.  But fear not if you're similarly afflicted; that's the only scene shot like that.  (If you happen to enjoy first person action and aren't made sick by it, I'd recommend Hardcore Henry, which G-Vo loved.  I, of course, was unable to partake.)

Side note #2: If you're not a fan of reading subtitles, the dubbing is actually tolerable.  (Well, with the exception of a little girl who was obviously dubbed by an adult, which made her sound like a possessed doll.  Fortunately, she doesn't talk much.)

4. Lady Bird*:  The title character is actually named Christine, but she's renamed herself Lady Bird in an effort to stand out.  She lives in Sacramento with her family, but she wants nothing more than to break away and move to New York City.  A wonderfully true look at the love/hate relationship between mothers and daughters, with exceptional performances by Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird and Laurie Metcalf as her harried mother.

5. Ingrid Goes West:  Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is a disturbed young woman who becomes obsessed with an Instagram star named Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen).  Ingrid uses her inheritance to move to California and "accidentally" bump into her idol.  This was billed as a dark comedy, but it wasn't very funny. Good performances, but it mostly just made me cringe.

6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi:  No recap since I don't want to spoil anything for anybody, plus if you have any interest in seeing this, you probably already have.  I have to be honest and say I thought it was disappointing; it felt really flat to me.  And lest you think the opinion of a casual SW fan doesn't count for much: I saw it with two lifelong SW fanboys and they didn't much care for it either.  Hopefully the next one is better.

7. Kingsman: The Golden Circle*:  The title organization teams up with a spy agency in the US to take down a perky drug lord named Poppy (Julianne Moore).  Lots of really fun action; I liked it more than the first one.

Side note:  This movie and Logan Lucky both feature Channing Tatum and the John Denver song "Country Roads", which is kind of weird.

8. Better Watch Out*:  A normal babysitting gig turns into a nightmare for Ashley when she becomes the victim of a home invasion and must defend the boy she's watching.  Absolutely not for everyone, but if you like your humor pitch black and don't mind some extremely twisted shit, you'll enjoy it.

9. Atomic Blonde:  In the middle of the Cold War, an MI6 agent (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin to retrieve a list of double agents.  A 3 star movie with a 4 star soundtrack and a 5 star fight scene.

10. Mother!*:  A young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her much older husband (Javier Bardem) find their lives upended by unexpected guests.  After #6 above, this was probably the most polarizing movie of the year.  I thought the allegory was a bit heavy-handed, and parts of it are extremely disturbing, but I wound up giving it a star because it did affect me and Jennifer Lawrence is really good.

11. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children:  After his grandfather dies, Jake discovers the titular home and tries to help the residents escape from a sinister threat.  Visually creative and better than expected.

TOTAL SEEN IN 2017:  90 (2016 total 103)