It’s a new year, and a new set of lists! I’m going to continue my monthly culture consumption, and I’m adding a bit of commentary to a few of the categories. Not much, nothing like my old reviews, but they’re better than nothing! If you want me to talk further, or if I don’t talk about something you’re really interested in, just comment and let me know.
CULTURE CONSUMPTION: January 2014
My goal for 2014 is essentially one book a week. Since I read 5 books, I think I’m in good shape!
1) Permeable Borders by Nina Kiriki Hoffman: this collection of short stories was interesting. Some stories were more successful than others, obviously, but my favorites were part of her fairy tale section. There’s also a strong collection of stories that take place in the same modern magical world, and seeing those characters interact was interesting. Made me wonder if Hoffman is setting up for a novel, if there’s not one out already. (Fantasy/Short Fiction)
2) Hyberbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: this was just humorous fun. Not a book I recommend getting digitally unless you’ve got something with a large screen and full color, but zany animation style aside, this was both fun and serious, and the serious had a great way of using humor to make you understand things that normally are hard to put into words. Overall, lots of fun. (Humor/Nonfiction)
3) The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold: some people can’t stand this book. I quite fell in love with it. Perhaps it’s because my expectations were in check after so many people told me they didn’t like it. Perhaps it’s because I waited two years to read this after adoring A Paladin of Souls. Whatever the case, I love Bujold’s world-building in this series, and I was completely absorbed. (Epic Fantasy)
4) Wild Justice by Kelley Armstrong: the concluding volume in the Nadia Stafford trilogy. I finished this in less than 24 hours. Loved, loved, loved it. (Mystery/Thriller)
5) Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith: been dying to read this for quite a few years now, so once it arrived via Paperback Swap, I couldn’t ignore it for very long. Thank you, snow day, for giving me the excuse. I tore through this in a day, and was quite engrossed by the story. The ending was a bit unsatisfying, I’ll admit, but the stuff I wanted “resolved” are the kinds of things that don’t have neat bows in real life, and while the questions were driving the novel, the one resolution was in actuality the most important question of all. I’d love to hear thoughts from anyone who’s read this: it’s got a lot to think about. (Young Adult/Historical Fiction)
1) The Intelligence Director by Jessica Brody: this story started out creepy but promising, and then disintegrated. It relied too heavily on a MAJOR COINCIDENCE to even take place, it had two points of view, and frankly, I think it’s really hard to do multiple POVs well when it comes to shorter fiction. I won’t say it’s impossible, but considering my personal rule is one POV per 100 pages? Yeah. And by time I finished this, I realized the REAL point of the story was just to plug the author’s YA Unremembered books. Which isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing. Such plugs can be well done (Leigh Bardugo’s “The Witch of Duva” is a great example of how to do this), but this was just obviously book-bait, and the bait itself (the THING in the story that basically stole the plot and ran with it) wasn’t that interesting to me at all, unfortunately. Others may have better luck. (Tor.com)
Graphic novels first:
100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition: Book I by Brian Azzarello: I was a little worried at first, because I thought the premise would follow ONE CHARACTER who was given an untraceable gun and 100 untraceable bullets (the entire series is, you guessed it, 100 issues), and what I was introduced to really didn’t grab me from the start (also, I admit I’m just not a fan of the art, nor the way women are drawn). Turns out, this series is FAR more complex than I originally believed, and I was easily hooked after finishing Book One. Reading Book Two now.
Black Widow is the first Marvel title I’ve started that I think I’ll be sticking with for the time-being. I like the story so far, and the art’s pretty compelling. Not much else to comment on here, though if you’re a comic fan, and you like things a little on the bizarre side, you should check out Rover Red Charlie: it’s a series about an apocalypse from the point of view of dogs. Trust me, it’s engaging.
Black Widow #1
Black Widow #2
Fairest # 22
Harley Quinn #2
Rover Red Charlie #2
Sex Criminals #4
Star Wars #12
Star Wars #13
Star Wars: Legacy #10
Star Wars: Legacy #11
The Manhattan Projects #17
The Massive #17
The Massive #18
The Walking Dead #119
The Walking Dead #120
Nothing in January. It’s not that there wasn’t anything I didn’t want to see. Believe me, there’s plenty. We just haven’t had the time to trek up to a theater to see anything.
A couple of documentaries, a couple of re-watches inspired by my reading of Writing for Emotional Impact, and some decent entertainment.
Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries & Mentors of Ricky Jay
The Queen of Versailles
The Silence of the Lambs (re-watch)
The Wolverine Extended Edition
This is the End
Finally, some seasons completed! All of these are on-going shows, but they wrapped up their respective seasons in January.
1) Sleepy Hollow, Season One: absolutely one of the best season finales I’ve ever seen. On Tor.com, a reviewer said (no spoilers):
At which point things get super extra crazy. I mean, even for this show, which starts at crazy, they go ahead and yank the dial all the way up to BATSHIT WHAAAAAT I CAN’T EVEN.
So yeah. I can’t believe I nearly passed on this show because of a ho-hum review of the series premiere. This show is so delightful, so zany, and so fun to watch. It’s got humor, it’s got awesome leads, and it knows when to take itself seriously and when to have some fun. Zombie George Washington. Seriously. If you’ve got Hulu plus or iTunes, do yourself a favor and marathon this show now.
2) Dracula, Season One: this is another show I nearly skipped due to ho-hum reviews of the premiere, but I got bored and decided to give it a go. I’ve not read Stoker’s Dracula (I know, sacrilege, I know), but my husband has (spoiler alert: he doesn’t like it, despite loving what the book did for the horror genre), so we had a lot of fun watching this: me as a fresh take on a tale I’m pretty familiar with, and him from the standpoint of seeing how the show takes things familiar from the book and twists and turns them. Worth marathoning, though the show’s flaws can be wince-worthy at times. No word on if this show’s getting renewed or not, but if it doesn’t, the finale is such that you won’t feel cheated (much).
3) American Horror Story: Coven: this third “season” of the show probably has the best pilot of the others that have come before, but the season as a whole seemed to lack something, despite its seemingly tighter focus. I just finished watching the finale (at the time of writing this), so I’m still processing. I think part of my personal problem comes from the fact that Coven felt like something I’d read in an urban fantasy novel, maybe even on the YA shelves at times (and at other times, oh hell no), whereas the previous two seasons (Murder House and Asylum) didn’t feel like something I could just grab off the bookshelf. That being said, Coven has a lot of layers, and its big bad wasn’t the obvious monster that the previous two seasons offered, but still quite chilling when you sit back and look at it. I suspect this one will grow on me more and more as time goes by. I still love the overall series that American Horror Story offers, especially how you can pick any season and just watch it as a stand-alone.
Also, feel free to share whatever 2014 stats you’ve got! How many books? How many movies? What were your favorites? Lay them on me!