Wednesday, October 31, 2018

media update: October

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 Girl from Blind River by Gale Massey:  19-year-old poker whiz Jamie dreams of leaving her small town and going pro, but when she gets involved in her uncle's criminal enterprises, she fears she may never be able to escape.

2. Broken Things by Lauren Oliver:  Brynn and Mia were accused of murdering their friend Summer in a crime inspired by their favorite fantasy novel.  Five years later, they're trying to move on with their lives, but they still want to find out who really killed Summer.

3. The Witch Elm* by Tana French:  After a brutal home invasion almost kills him, Toby moves into his family's ancestral home to care for his terminally ill uncle.  But then human bones are discovered on the property, and let's just say that's not the only skeleton that gets revealed.  This is Tana French's first standalone novel, and it's not as good as the ones in the Dublin Murder Squad series, but I still enjoyed it.  Tana French always has the best final paragraphs; I can't think of another author offhand who consistently manages to stick the landing the way she does.

4. The Lies We Told by Camilla Way:  After her boyfriend Luke disappears, his girlfriend Clara starts looking for clues, but she's not prepared for where they will lead her.  Not bad, but I figured out where it was going pretty quickly, which always saps a bit of the enjoyment.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  99


1. Feminasty: The Complicated Woman's Guide to Surviving the Patriarchy without Drinking Herself to Death** by Erin Gibson:  In a series of essays, the author talks about the ways society completely shits on women, but she still manages to be funny about it; seriously, there's a solid laugh on just about every page.  If I were in the habit of highlighting my books (and, uh, if this wasn't the library's copy), the interior would be almost completely pink and yellow.

2. American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment by Shane Bauer:  The author got a $9/hour job as a prison guard in Louisiana and wrote about his experience for Mother Jones, later expanding his article for this book.  He was in a unique position in that he could see both sides of the story; prior to this job, he was arrested in Iran and kept in solitary confinement for almost two years.  An interesting indictment of the corporate prison system.

3. Full Disclosure by Stormy Daniels:  The adult film star talks about her life, most notably her sexual encounter with a certain bright orange despot.

4. The Best American Food Writing 2018:  What it says on the tin!  My favorite was "The Struggle of 'Eating Well' When You're Poor" by Marissa Higgins.

5. What If This Were Enough? by Heather Havrilesky:  A collection of essays about how our expectations of happiness set us up for misery.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  25


1. Check, Please!* by Ngozi Ukazu

2. Food Wars! vol. 26 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

3. Erased vol. 5 by Kei Sanbe

4. The Promised Neverland* vol. 6 by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu

5. Sex Criminals vol. 5 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

6. The Divided Earth by Faith Erin Hicks

7. The Walking Dead* vol. 30 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

8. The Water Dragon's Bride vol. 7 by Rei Toma

9. Bad Friends by Ancco

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  42 volumes of manga and 15 graphic novels


1. Phantom Thread:  In 1950s England, renowned clothing designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day Lewis, excellent as usual) takes a shine to a young waitress, who becomes his muse.  Without spoiling anything, let's just say this didn't remotely go where I was expecting.

2. Eighth Grade*:  Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) is trying to survive the eighth grade and just get to high school in one emotional piece, but it's not easy.  Occasionally so realistic as to be excruciating, but filled with warmth and compassion; it's like a more humane version of Welcome to the Dollhouse.

3. Ocean's 8:  Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) gathers together an all-female crew to steal a $150 million dollar necklace at the Met Gala in this fun caper.

4. Whitney:  A documentary about Whitney Houston, her meteoric rise to fame, and her shocking downfall.  Unlike other recent documentaries about Whitney, this one spoke to just about everyone she was close to (with the notable exception of Robyn Crawford, her alleged lover), so it's a pretty complete portrait.  It sounds counterintuitive, but I don't think I'd recommend it to big fans of hers, as watching her go from a radiant young woman to a rambling drug addict is pretty horrifying.  Some of the later footage is almost unbearable to watch.

5. Constantine: City of Demons:  John Constantine reluctantly agrees to rescue an old friend's daughter from demonic clutches.  It's animated, but take the R rating seriously.

6. The Night Comes for Us:  After a gang member kills his cohorts to save a little girl during a massacre, he must defend himself and the girl against a horde of enforcers.  Some great action, but a major warning: this is one of the bloodiest, most brutal movies I've ever seen.  If that caveat gave you even a second of hesitation, don't watch it.

7. Trolls:  A determined troll (the toy kind, not the fairy tale monster or the internet scourge) sets out to rescue her friends from the Bergens, who eat trolls in order to gain happiness.  A cute palate cleanser after the unrelenting gore of the previous two movies.

8. Solo:  In this Star Wars prequel, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich, who isn't bad but doesn't hold a candle to Harrison Ford; granted, that's a tall order!) teams up with a group of criminals to steal a shipment of hyperfuel.  It was (for a Star Wars-related movie) a commercial bomb, so our expectations were pretty low, but we wound up enjoying it.  It does start slow, but eventually there's some great action.  My favorite part was a sassy droid voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame.

9. Hot Summer Nights:  When Daniel (Timothee Chalamet) is sent to spend the summer at his aunt's house, he meets a guy named Hunter, and they start a brisk business selling pot.  It was a little "try hard".

10. The Spy Who Dumped Me:  After Audrey's (Mila Kunis) boyfriend breaks up with her, she discovers that he's a spy, and she and her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) get entangled in a global conspiracy.  It wanted to be Spy, which it most certainly wasn't, but it had some really funny moments and I rather enjoyed it...certainly much more than I was expecting to.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  92