books read in February

Glory O'Brien's History of the FutureGlory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another strong story from one of my all time favorite authors. If you have never read any A.S. King, she has this wonderful sense of magical realism. Her stories are grounded in reality but there is always something different about this. In this one, the book starts with Glory and her BFF drinking a dead bat and then they feel like they are hallucinating visions of the past and future. But really it is about growing up, that weird realm of existence right before high school graduation, when you know that the people who have been around you for the past 4 years are going to go away soon, that you are no longer a child but an adult…King’s books always hit me right in the feels and the voices of her characters are very real.

Saga, Volume 4 (Saga #19-24)Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just keeps getting better and better. I actually feel like this collection is the best it has been since the first trade. I just really hope that BKV has this all planned out. It has been compared to ‘Game of Thrones’ in it’s complexity which means it could be awesome or it could all fall apart if they don’t know where it will all end. Right now I am enjoying the ride.

Andre the Giant: Life and LegendAndre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My only knowledge of Andre is from the movie The Princess Bride. This was a fascinating look at the world of wrestling in it’s early form as an entertainment and the examination of a man who was unlike any other. Box Brown does not pull any punches (unlike the wrestlers) so you get a very balanced look at Andre, his life, his work, and his legacy.

Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across AmericaCarsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this might have fared better as a blog that waters updated on the road rather than as a book. I think the only reason I made it through this was because Waters was reading it to me. The first half of the book, heck, the MAJORITY of this book is Waters fantasizing about the best and worst things that could happen to him on the road. I really did enjoy the last part of the book, the ACTUAL real rides of the trip. Probably not as exciting as Waters or his publishers had hoped (perhaps that was why they felt the need to create more dramatic rides in the beginning?) but fun.

If you are going to experience this book, definitely pick it up as an audiobook.

Adventure Time: The Flip SideAdventure Time: The Flip Side by Paul Tobin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not the best one. I think the story could have been half the length, which would have helped. I ended up speed reading/skimming the last few “chapters” just to see how it all ended.

My Little Pony:  Fluttershy and the Fine Furry Friends FairMy Little Pony: Fluttershy and the Fine Furry Friends Fair by G.M. Berrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s “Babe” meets “My Little Pony” is another adorable chapter book. Totally loved this one!

movie thoughts: Into the Woods (2014)

I only watched three movies this past month, mostly because we’ve been marathoning too many tv shows to make time for a 2 hour film. But the one movie I actually went to the theater to see was Into the Woods, the big screen adaptation of the award-winning Broadway musical.

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Let me say up front that I am a HUGE fan of the original musical. My parents taped the live performance off of PBS when I was a kid and I watched it over and over. I had the soundtrack and memorized it. I was very nervous about the film from day one of its announcement. And after getting to think about it for a month, I finally have coherent thoughts formed about the motion picture version.

It is really hard to separate my knowledge of the stage production, the FULL STORY, from what we ended up with on screen. I know which songs were cut, which characters were lost, and what moments were missed.

The movie was alright on its own. Obviously it loses some of the charm, being a movie versus stage. I don’t think people truly understand the magic of seeing something on stage, having a performer belt out a tune, hit all the high notes, singing with a LIVE orchestra – no retakes, no edits. You can’t appreciate seeing the sets shift and move right before your eyes. That is the magic of theater, not the movies.

Continue reading

Books read (or at least finished) in January 2015

My Little Pony: Pony Tales Volume 1 (My Little Pony Micro-Series #1-6)My Little Pony: Pony Tales Volume 1 by Thom Zahler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Super fun collection of stories that captures the magic of the tv series. A must for fans!

Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream QueensAdventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens by Meredith Gran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Captures the fun and randomness of Adventure Time. This collection is all about Marceline and her band and Princess Bubblegum going on tour.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess BrideAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book and a fantastic audiobook. If you are a fan of ‘The Princess Bride’ or movie making in general, you must listen to this book, as told be the actors who lived it. Heart-warming, inspirational, and charming. Elwes’ narration makes it that much more endearing.

Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake Vol. 1Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake Vol. 1 by Natasha Allegri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Captures the brilliance of the gender-swapped Adventure Time universe episodes and transfers them onto paper. It’s probably magic…though I’m sure Prince Gumball would insist it was science. But it’s MAGIC!

Great artwork, a fun story, lots of action and humor. What the math are you waiting for?

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own AutobiographyNeil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This audiobook had everything I could ask for and more! And having NPH read it made it SO much more fun. Just the right mix of humor, life lessons, adventures, romance and behind the scenes gossip.

Undivided (Unwind, #4)Undivided by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can see why Shusterman felt it was necessary to make this a 4 volume series. He had a LOT of ideas floating around, a lot of different angles to cover, and as he was writing these books, REAL science and REAL politics kept moving in a direction that the story tries to warn us from. For a finale to a series, there were a lot of new plot lines introduced in this book.

But the ending was satisfying and just as intense as the rest of the series. Shusterman knows that it is unrealistic to try to tie up problems in a neat little bow. You may not be sure of how the world will be but the last paragraph leaves you hopeful that the characters can find some kind of peace.
My New Friend Is So Fun! (Elephant & Piggie, #21)My New Friend Is So Fun! by Mo Willems
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a fear that I think a lot of us have, but especially children – what if your best friend finds a new best friend?!? Would you be replaced!

As usual, poor Gerald has a bit of a breakdown when he hears about Piggie hanging out with Brian the Bat.

<3

Book Series Thoughts: Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman

Book Series Thoughts: Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman

unwind dystology

When I read Unwind in 2009, I had no clue it was going to be a series. The book was published in 2007 and the story seemed to end on the final page. At least, I felt like Connor and his friends would keep fighting and surviving even if I wasn’t reading along with them.

Then in 2012 I saw Unwholly on the new books cart. I was skeptical – was Shusterman just cashing in on the “YA series” craze? Could the story still be as powerful in a second time?

I was not disappointed, with Unwholly, Unsouled, and Undivided raising even more questions and issues. It was the kind of Science Fiction I loved – one that takes ethical dilemmas we are dealing with right now and throwing them to an extreme, but an extreme that doesn’t seem too far off (as Shusterman regularly points out by including actual articles from the past few years, complete with URL information in case you wanted to follow up).

The Unwind Dystology, as it has come to be known/marketed, is the story of the near future. After the Heartland War, a war that came about because of the abortion debate, a truce of sorts was reached – parents had until the age of 18 to decide if they wanted their child or not. If a parent no longer wanted a child, they could be unwound, a process by which the body parts are extracted and sent somewhere to be used. No waste, the child is technically still “alive” but their body is being “put to good use”. Connor Lassiter makes several mistakes and pushes his parents to the point that they feel he should be unwound. Connor manages to escape from the transport when he takes a hostage, Levi Calder. Levi is a tithe from a very religious family who has been raised to be unwound as a sacrifice. While on the run, they also meet Risa Ward, a girl from a state orphanage who is being sent to be unwound because the government can no longer support the funding.

There is a WHOLE lot more to this story, especially now that it spans four book, but it is better to read it and experience it than me spoiling it for you. You will be confronted with issues like biomedical ethics, terrorism, politics, propaganda and more. I was on the edge of my seat, up until 2am reading the finale and it was worth it. The scene from that final page will stay with me. Actually, there are several moments from this series that will haunt me.

A recent Huffington Post article compares it to The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, though I would not pit the two against each other. While both have to do with the aftermath of war and it’s effects on the next generation, Collins and Shusterman are focusing on completely different issues beyond that.

This is a must-read series for anyone over the age of 16. There is SO much to discuss here. And while the last two books falter a little bit (I think Shusterman could probably has published a HUGE third book and gotten away with it but he clearly had one too many ideas he wanted to get down so the fourth book came to be as he hashed out the details) this series is one of THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION SERIES.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 backlog

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is:

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn’t Get To!

(Some of this is because I am a SLOW reader…well, a distracted reader (Dragon Age:Inquisition is just like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book…that takes 60+ hours because of side quests!). Others are because I’ve been on the wait list at the library FOREVER. Either way, I’m hoping to get to them all early in 2015)


Undivided by Neal Shusterman
The final volume in the AMAZING Unwind series. I’m actually halfway through the book now and have no idea how it will all play out on the last page. I’m scared!!!


Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
A.S. King has to be one of my favorite authors of all time. I love all of her young adults novels. She has a very real voice and she avoids falling into cliche plot and characters. I cannot WAIT to read this (and bonus, while blogging this, the book appeared on my desk at work! Now I really have to finish Undivided)


Nightmares by Jason Segel
Segel READS THE AUDIOBOOK! How can I resist??


How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor
I do love non-fiction about my favorite franchises and after Dunc’s positive review I am eager to pick this one up!


Joss Whedon: The Biography by Amy Pascale
He is my Big Damn Hero so I need to know ALL THE THINGS about him.


Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
I’ve had this book come across my desk several times and just didn’t get a chance to read it before having to pass it on to the next person. The wait list is finally gone so this will be read soon!


The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
I’ve been meaning to read some Murakami and this one seems small enough that I can get through it quickly. Also Evelyn said I have to read it so we can talk about it.


Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown
This has been on my to-read list since May but after listening to ‘As You Wish’ (about the making of The Princess Bride) I really want to read this graphic biography!


Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
I credit Scott Westerfeld with turning me on to YA book with his Uglies trilogy so I am really looking forward to reading his latest.


The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley
Jimmy Gownley’s “Amelia Rules” series is one of my favorite realistic fiction comic series for kids.

Whatcha Watching Wednesday: 2014 Year In Movies

Whatcha Watching Wednesday: 2014 Year In Movies

Going to try to make this a weekly post in 2015 since I watch a LOT of movies and tv shows and then forget to post about them. :) This will give me a weekly schedule and hopefully encourage me to post more!

According to Letterboxd, I watched 76 “movies” in 2014. 43 of these were new-to-me movies and the rest were rewatches because sometimes you just need to go back and see if your favorite movie still holds up after all these years!

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First Movie of 2014: The Princess Bride
I have seen this movie a countless amount of times, but when we heard it was going to be playing on the BIG SCREEN, we just had to go. Seeing it in a dark theater full of fans was so much fun. (and oddly enough, the first book I “finished” in 2015? As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of ‘The Princess Bride’ – but more on that in another post!)

Last Movie of 2014: How To Train Your Dragon 2
I find it amusing they didn’t give this movie a subtitle or something because the dragon training is over! Hiccup and the citizens of Berk have come a LONG WAY since the first movie. Another fantastic entry in this fantasy series. The quality of the writing and the acting was superb.

Best Movies of 2014: The LEGO Movie and The Conjuring
I’m pretty stingy with my 5 star ratings, but both of these movies surprised me in how much I loved them!

When trailers for The LEGO Movie came out, I was skeptical, thinking this was just another movie for the sake of marketing (though as a Star Wars fan you’d think I would be cool with that). After all the rave reviews, I decided to take the DVD home and give it a shot and was shocked to find a smart, funny, movie that ranks up there with Toy Story when it comes to stories that hit me right in the feels. Plus, Chris Pratt was everyone’s boyfriend in 2014. EVERYONE’S! Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t even a blip on my radar yet when I watched this movie, but even as a little yellow minifigure, Pratt’s charm is undeniable.

The Conjuring was a movie I had no intention of watching. I’m not into scary films and, again, I dismissed it immediately as a cheap horror flick that would probably be all about the gore. And again, word of mouth from friends told me that, yes, it was scary, but not just for the sake of being scary. It had a well written script, made all the more interested for being “based on a true story”, and an amazing cast that elevated the film. I was scared! But I couldn’t wait to watch it again. Except I can because I would be too scared to be alone at night if I watched it too much…but I think it might become Halloween viewing.

Worst Movie of 2014: C.O.G.
I don’t even know how this DVD ended up on my desk or why I thought we should watch it. I guess I was thinking a movie based on a David Sedaris story would be amusing. Turned out to be the most painful and unenjoyable film we saw all year. It doesn’t matter how many good actors you have around, a shitty script is shitty. We now use this movie as a frame of reference for how bad we think other movies are. (and Tim will not let me forget that I made him watch it with me).

Biggest Surprises of the Year: Guardians of the Galaxy
Come on, we all thought this was destined for mediocrity, like so many Marvel films before it. Except it was awesome. Again, Chris Pratt surprised us all. Star Lord’s scoundrelness won us over, it was like having Han Solo’s own movie (note to Disney: you DO NO need to make a Han Solo movie…you have it right here so please just … don’t).

Most Frustrating Movie of 2014: Enemy
Seriously. wtf. W.T.F. I thought two Jake Gyllenhaal’s would be better than one…I was so wrong.

Movie I Hated That Everyone Else Loved: Birdman
Yes the “acting” was great but for a movie lamenting how Hollywood is just making the same movie over and over with superheroes and how that isn’t REAL, I’d seen the story of the loser actor struggling to be REAL on stage enough times to be unimpressed.

Movie I thought I would Hate but ended up enjoying: Gone Girl
I only saw this because my friend wanted to see a movie and this was what was out. But I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I doubt I would watch it again, because now that I know how it all ends, it won’t be as engaging, but for two hours, David Fincher had me on a string.

Honorable Mention:

The Way Way Back — it’s just as good as everyone said, it feels like a YA novel I would read.

Spectacular Now – actually based on a YA novel I meant to read…but the movie was so good, I don’t know if I will bother. Shailene Woodley begins her reign as the YA adaptation queen.

Veronica Mars — I participated in the Kickstarter for this movie and was really excited when it all started…then I rewatched the TV Series and some of the shine wore off. But it was a cool experiment to be a part of. I got a digital copy with my kickstarter donation so we watched the movie on release day in my apartment.

Edge of Tomorrow — (or is it Live.Die.Repeat???) What? A Tom Cruise movie that didn’t totally suck!?! That I could actually watch over and over? Who would have guessed Hollywood had it in them! It’s like Groundhog Day but instead of trying to woo Andie McDowell, you want to KILL ALIENS!

This was the year Tim tried his best to get me into anime. We watched several movies and tv shows. Ninja Scroll and FLCL were probably the two I enjoyed the most (I later became hooked on ‘Attack on Titan’ which I LOVE LOVE LOVE)

Books Read in 2014: Greatest Hits

First – thank you Dunc for posting a list just like this: stuff she wanted to mention sans any sort of ranking or premade form. I do not read enough to create a list of best books of the year or anything like that. So this is just about ME! And it’s my blog so why not!

These are all of the books I read this year (well, I didn’t put all the picture books down because that list would be insane…).

And here are the stand out titles:

Book I Picked Up But I’m Not Sure Why: Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
I’ve always liked Alan Cumming but I’m not a rabid fan or anything. But for some reason when I got wind of his memoir, I put myself on the hold list for it. And when it arrived on my desk at work, I felt compelled to read it. And I did, in under 3 weeks which for me is pretty good. He manages to take a very personal story, a story that could just be one of woe and misery, and transform it into one of overcoming and making the best of things. I couldn’t put it down.

Book Everyone Loved and I thought I would hate it but…I loved it!: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
If Stephanie hadn’t told me to pick this one up, I probably would have ignored it. I tend to find when review sites are raving about books that take place in bookstores, I am underwhelmed. But she convinced me to read it and the books can only be described as charming. Lots of in jokes for book fans.

Books I Learned a LOT From: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood AND Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat
Both of these books have a target audience of middle grade readers but I learned a heck of a lot from reading them! ‘Treaties’ is about World War I, which is glossed over in most textbooks because, let’s face it, it was a clusterf*ck. Hale manages to show the confusion but also make it a bit clearer. It was quite an endeavor, trying to cram that entire conflict into one book, bu the managed to do it.
‘Red Madness’ will give you all the backstory on why our white breads are pumped full of random vitamins and also show how the more things change…the more they stay the same.

Material Elevated by Audiobook Narrator: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton
Seriously, the king of nerds reads a book about geek heroes playing video games in a virtual world? It was beautiful.

(Honorary Mention to Kristen Bell reading ‘Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line’ for not just reading the book but doing impersonations of her co-stars whenever possible).