Monday, July 02, 2018

media update: June

I'm writing this at work after almost two full weeks of vacation and boy am I salted about it!  At least I had a wonderful time; my family, G, and I took a train through the Canadian Rockies and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  Canada is a magical wonderland full of bears, candy, and OTC allergy medication that actually worked for me and I would like to go back please. 

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 Song of Achilles* by Madeline Miller:  A reworking of the myth of Achilles as told by his friend and lover Patroclus.

2. What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard:  16-year-old Elizabeth has just been admitted to a treatment center for her anorexia.  As she struggles with learning how to eat properly again and realizing how much her mother's skewed view of food has shaped her own, she finds solace in the anonymous care packages sent to her.  But are they from her ex-boyfriend or someone else?

3. Furyborn by Claire Legrand:  The stories of two women, one blessed (or cursed) with all seven kinds of elemental magic and the other an assassin, intersect in this enjoyable fantasy.  It was shelved as YA, but it doesn't read like it; it reminded me of the Tearling novels by Erika Johansen.

4. Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin:  Mona volunteers at a needle exchange site, where she meets a client she calls Mr. Disgusting.  They fall in love, but when things go wrong, she moves to New Mexico in hopes of a fresh start. 

5. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger:  After leaving her job as Miranda Priestly's assistant (cf. The Devil Wears Prada), Emily now works as an image consultant.  When the beautiful supermodel wife of a politician is arrested for drunk driving, she swears it's a set up and desperately calls Emily for help.  It's not going to win a Pulitzer or anything, but it's a breezy read that's perfect for the season.

6. How Hard Can It Be?* by Allison Pearson:  Kate Reddy is about to turn 50, and between perimenopause, dealing with her teenagers and unemployed husband, and renovating a money pit of a house, she's losing her mind.  She decides to reenter the work force, and she creates a resume with so many lies that, in her words, it might as well be experimental fiction.  To her surprise, she gets a job at the hedge fund she originally founded many years ago, but needless to say, her complicated life gets even more so.

Kate originally showed up in the author's debut novel, I Don't Know How She Does It, which I read many years ago, and although I don't remember much about it, I do remember really enjoying it.  This sequel is also really good: funny and insightful, and Kate is a terrific heroine to root for.

7. The Woman in the Woods* by John Connolly:  After the body of a young woman is discovered in the woods and forensic evidence shows she had given birth shortly before her death, a lawyer contacts Charlie Parker and asks him to look into the missing child.  Definitely the best Connolly novel in years, although I had forgotten about something that happened in the previous novel and it made me sad when I was reminded.

8. The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong:  Yu-jin is prone to seizures, but he doesn't like to take his medicine because he enjoys the high he gets right before one hits.  But when he wakes up with little memory of the night before and discovers his mother's murdered body, he tries to figure out who's responsible.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  57


1. Calypso by David Sedaris:  A new collection of essays.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  17


1. Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, and Joy San

2. Food Wars!* vol. 24 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

3. Queen's Quality vol. 4 by Kyousuke Motomi

4. Beauty Bunny by Mari Yoshino

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  20 volumes of manga and 8 graphic novels


1. Molly's Game*:  After her Olympics dream came literally crashing to a halt, Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain, predictably excellent) moved to Los Angeles and started an underground poker ring frequented by celebrities and high rollers.  Aaron Sorkin wrote it, so the dialogue was sharp and rapid-fire.  Based on a true story.

2. Game Night*:  Max and Annie (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams) host a game night at their home every week, but when Max's brother hosts a murder mystery party at his place instead, it turns into something unexpected.  An overlooked little gem with lots of funny lines and an especially good performance by Jesse Plemons as their forlorn neighbor.

3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure:  This is the final film in the series, so I can't review it properly lest I spoil its predecessors.  It was definitely the best of the three.

4. Thoroughbreds:  After reconnecting, childhood friends Lily and Amanda hatch a plan to kill Lily's overbearing stepfather.  A bit slow, probably due to the fact it was originally supposed to be a play, but good.

5. Red Sparrow:  After an accident destroys her ballet career, Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence) is recruited by a Russian intelligence agency to serve as a "sparrow", a spy who uses sex to get information.  It's howlingly bad and extremely violent, but honestly, I kind of enjoyed it.  It's the cinematic equivalent of fast food: you should probably not spend any of your precious life consuming it, but you'll enjoy it while you do.

6. Cell:  After a strange cell phone signal turns people into rage-filled zombies, a small band of survivors looks for safety.  Based on the Stephen King novel, though they changed so much from the book that you wouldn't know it.  (King cowrote the screenplay, so I'm guessing he was fine with the changes, but I'm not sure why they were made.)

7. Love, Simon*:  Simon is a teenage boy who's hiding the fact that he's gay.  He starts corresponding with another closeted teenage boy online, but when Simon forgets to log out of a school computer, a classmate finds the emails and begins blackmailing him.  I wish this movie had ended about 5 minutes sooner, but it was still a super sweet movie that left me feeling ultra schmooply, so I'll give it a star.

8. Tomb Raider:  Aside from one decent action sequence, this reboot was dull and full of terrible dialogue.  Skip it.

9. Fifty Shades Freed:  Pretty sure you don't need me to tell you what this is about!  God, it was so fucking bad, even by its predecessors' standards, but adult refreshments helped make it bearable.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  56