Tuesday, April 30, 2019

media update: April

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. Tomorrow There Will Be Sun by Dana Reinhardt:  Jenna has organized a stay at a luxury Mexican villa for her husband Peter's 50th birthday, but their perfect vacation starts to slowly go to shit.

2. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing:   The unnamed narrator and his wife Millicent (oof, I really wish the author had used a different name, or at least called her Millie; no offense to anyone named Millicent, but it connotes a certain type of woman, which this character was most definitely not) spice up their marriage with murder.  It's not bad, but I really wanted to like this more than I did.

3. The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor:  Joe returns to the small English village where he grew up in hopes of getting the truth behind some weird shit that happened there when he was younger.  Big warning: if you plan on reading this, don't read the blurbs first; one of them includes a massive spoiler that greatly lessened my enjoyment of the book because then I knew where it was going.  Lesson learned.

Side note: I didn't notice this until G pointed it out, but I sure do read a lot of books about someone returning to their hometown to investigate something!

4. A Book of Bones by John Connolly:  This is a really hard one to summarize, but in a nutshell, Charlie Parker investigates a series of murders that involve enemies from his past.

Side note: if you're in North America and want to read this, it won't be released here until October.  (I was able to get my hands on the UK version.)

5. Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf:  In a small Iowa town, a sleepover turns tragic when three young friends' midnight visit to the rail yard ends with one of them stabbed and brutally beaten.  The town is thrown into a tailspin, especially when the girls blame the crime on an urban legend named Joseph Wither.

6. Lights All Night Long* by Lydia Fitzpatrick:  A Russian exchange student copes with the unfamiliarity of America and tries to find out the truth behind his brother's incarceration back home.  An unusual, beautifully written take on the classic "fish out of water" trope.

2019 total so far: 24


1. The Last Stone* by Mark Bowden:  In 1975, two young sisters disappeared from a suburban shopping mall.  After police were unable to find them or any credible leads, the case was closed.  Almost 30 years later, a cold case detective found something in the files that everyone else had overlooked, and a new investigation was opened. 

2. The Light Years* by Chris Rush:  After getting his first taste of LSD at the age of 12, the author started selling drugs at school and, after getting expelled, took a road trip to Tucson to get more drugs from his sister's friend.  An excellent coming-of-age memoir that, like the best nonfiction, reads more like a novel.

2019 total so far: 4


1. Citrus vol. 9 by Saburouta

2. Food Wars!* vol. 29 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

3. No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! vol. 13 by Nico Tanigawa

4. My Solo Exchange Diary* vol. 2 by Nagata Kabi

5. The Promised Neverland* vol. 9 by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu

2019 total so far:  19 volumes of manga and 10 graphic novels


1. MFKZ*:  Angelino lives an unremarkable existence until he starts seeing weird shadows and finds out that he's part alien...and they're coming to take over Earth.  A visually dazzling treat that I really enjoyed; if you like adult animation such as Liquid Television and Love Death + Robots, I bet you'll get a kick out of it too.

2. Ralph Breaks the Internet:  After a wi-fi router is installed in their arcade, Ralph and Vanellope discover a whole new world online.  Too similar to the original, and I thought it had kind of a weird message for [adopts "old man yelling at cloud" voice] impressionable young'uns.

3. The Possession of Hannah Grace:  Megan (Shay Mitchell) is an ex-cop who gets a new job at a hospital morgue and discovers that one of the corpses is, shall we say, unusual.  Goofy but mildly entertaining, and I was impressed that it didn't end as predictably as I thought it would.

4. Halloween:  In this sequel to the 70s horror classic (yes, they have the same title; yes, that's confusing), Michael Myers escapes while being transported to a new mental health facility and immediately starts racking up a body count.  But unbeknownst to him, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has spent the last forty years preparing for just this possibility.

5. Glass:  This movie ties together Unbreakable and Split, but overall it was weird and unsatisfying.  Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson phone in their parts, leaving James McAvoy to do all the heavy lifting.  Watch it if you've already seen the other two movies for closure's sake; otherwise, give it a pass.

6. The Happy Prince:  A look at the final days of Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett, who's terrific) as he spends them in exile after being released from prison. 

7. Mirai:  4-year-old Kun gets a new baby sister, Mirai, and discovers a portal in the backyard that lets him meet people from the past and future...including a teenaged Mirai.  Beautiful to look at, but the story was meh and I never felt moved by it.

8. Avengers: Endgame**:  Because this just came out, I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I'll just say it was excellent.

9. Vice*:  A biographical drama about Dick Cheney's rise to political power.  I'm not usually very interested by politics, but it was done in a very entertaining style, and the performances were excellent, especially Christian Bale as Cheney.  I think he should have won Best Actor this year.

2019 total so far: 31

Monday, April 01, 2019

media update: March

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. Wrecked by Joe Ide:  Isaiah "IQ" Quintabe, the urban answer to Sherlock Holmes, agrees to help a young woman track down her missing mother.  It started off great, but my interest started to flag near the end.

2. A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis:  FBI agent Elsa Myers looks for a missing teenage girl, but the search starts to open up some of Elsa's psychological wounds.

3. The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton:  This is the sequel to The Belles, so I can't review it properly lest I spoil its predecessor.  It seemed awfully rushed to me, but the acknowledgements at the end mentioned that the author was going through a health crisis while writing it, so that may be why.

4. The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald:  After falling off a bridge, teenage Olivia Knight is declared brain dead, but she's kept on life support because she's pregnant...news which comes as a huge shock.  Her mother Abi is determined to find out if Olivia's fall was an accident, a suicide attempt, or murder.

5. The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz:  Ten years after her best friend Edie died by suicide after a drunken night of partying, Lindsay starts to wonder if Edie was actually murdered.  But Lindsay was blackout drunk that night, so she turns to case files, videos, and her old friends to see what she can piece together.

6. Save Me From Dangerous Men by S.A. Lelchuk:  Nikki Griffin owns a bookstore, but she has a sideline as a private investigator, and one of her favorite things to do is hurt men who hurt women.  When a woman she's tailing is murdered, she discovers that the woman had damaging information on a big company, and now Nikki is in danger too.

7. The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra:  Ava was bullied in high school, and when she graduates, she thinks she can finally find some peace.  But she can't put the past behind her, and she decides to get revenge on the people who wronged her.

2019 total so far:  18


1. Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls** by T Kira Madden:  Growing up in Florida, the author seemed to have it all as the daughter of the man who, along with his brother Steve, cofounded a massively popular shoe empire.  But she was also constantly ridiculed for being biracial, she struggled with her sexuality, and her parents were both addicts.  It sounds like yet another "poor little rich girl" memoir, but I assure you it's not; it's funny and incredibly moving.  I know it's only March, but I have a hard time imagining anything will top this as my favorite nonfiction book this year.

2019 total so far: 2


1. Oh Joy Sex Toy* vol. 4 by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan

2. Bloom into You by Nakatani Nio

3. That Blue Sky Feeling vols. 1-2 by Okura and Coma Hashii

4. Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley

5. Sweetness & Lightning vol. 11 by Gido Amagakure

6. Rx by Rachel Lindsay

7. Avatar: The Last Airbender - Imbalance by Faith Erin Hicks

8. The Walking Dead* vol. 31 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

9. Everyone's Getting Married vol. 9 (final volume) by Izumi Miyazono:  I HAAAAAAAAAAATED the way this series ended.  Hated, hated, HATED it.  The series itself was fine overall, but the ending made me so goddamn mad.

10. Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau

11. My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

12. Rin-Ne vol. 29 by Rumiko Takahashi

2019 total so far:  14 volumes of manga and 10 graphic novels+


1. The Girl in the Spider's Web:  Genius hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) tries to retrieve a computer program capable of accessing nuclear codes.  Better than expected, with a couple of great action scenes.

2. The Favourite*:  In 18th century England, a physically and psychologically unwell Queen Anne (Olivia Colman, who won the Best Actress Oscar) lets her close friend Sarah (Rachel Weisz) run the country.  When Sarah's cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at court, she's determined to become the queen's favorite, no matter the cost.  Occasionally funny but with a seriously nasty sting, it's the only Yorgos Lanthimos movie I've ever been able to finish.  I wavered between giving it a star or not, but I decided to based on the performances and the fact that the ending haunted me for days afterwards.

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse*:  After becoming the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales meets his counterparts from other dimensions, and they try to stop a threat that could destroy all of them.  Funny, touching, and visually dazzling; I'm really sorry we didn't get a chance to see this in 3D.

4. Captain Marvel*:  After crashing a plane, Air Force pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) winds up on another planet, where she's trained as a supersoldier.  Six years later, she winds up on Earth, and her long-dormant memories come rushing back as she gets caught in a war between two alien races.  Lots of fun, and I enjoyed the predominantly 90s soundtrack and the lovely orange cat named Goose.

5. Aquaman:  Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is the rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis, but only if he can defeat his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) first.  A bit goofy, and Amber Heard's Party City wig was incredibly distracting, but it was visually dazzling and had some fun moments.

2019 total so far: 22