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.

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


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!


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)