Culture Consumption: April 2014

It’s that time again! Amazing how fast the time flies, but once more, it’s time for another Culture Consumption. As always, I’ll post a list of what I’ve read/watched over the past month, and in some cases, provide some commentary. If there’s anything you’re interested in or curious about, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments, and I’ll be happy to talk further!

April, I will say, was a bad reading month. As I’ve mentioned before, it takes me longer and longer to get through a book, even if I love what I’m reading. But some of that is balanced out by the fact I did some major catch-up of comic book reading in April, and as well as all the shows that were wrapping up this spring.

CULTURE CONSUMPTION: April 2014

Books

My goal for 2014 is essentially one book a week. I definitely failed this goal in April, as I only finished one book, but I think I started off the year with enough of a kick that Goodreads says I’m still on track for a book a week. We’ll see. 🙂

14) Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire: This series is SO much fun. While it’s the first that features a narrator other than Verity (this time, we get her older brother Alex), McGuire handles it quite well. The story explores more of the InCrytid culture while introducing us to new characters as well as showing us the aftermath of what happened to Sarah in Midnight Blue-Light Special. Only thing this book needed to make it better were more appearances of the Aeslin mice. 🙂 (Urban Fantasy)

15) WebMage by Kelly McCullough: DNF. The premise was interesting, and I’ve been considering this book for a while. When it popped up on my Paperback Swap list, I decided to give it a go, but 22 pages in told me it just wasn’t going to hold my attention the way I needed it too. Nothing against the book, just not what I was wanting (though to be fair, I really need to start doing a better job of sampling narratives online. It’d probably help me eliminate a lot of DNFs). (Science Fantasy)

Short Fiction

2) Trading Rosemary by Octavia Cade: this novella received such high praise that I had to download it and give it a whirl. It’s a slow, patient read with an interesting near-future and a close, inner look on memory and how it makes you who and what you are. A compelling narrative, one that I’d like to read again, because I couldn’t always ascertain which scenes were present action and which ones were memories being relived, which I think that may be a formatting problem on my Kindle. Regardless, this is one story I’ll keep in mind when the Hugo Nomination period rolls back around next year. (Science Fiction/Social SF)

3) Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages: when this novella received a Nebula nod, I downloaded it to read at my own leisure. It’s since received a Hugo nod, and no doubt, it’s an interesting tale told over the course of three generations. Yet my brain struggled with the content in terms of trying to make it fit some kind of SF/F/H mold, because the one unifying factor was the art of movie-making and the side-effects that has on the people and ecosystem involved. There is a sense of magical realism to this piece, but it didn’t quite hook me in an emotional way. In spite of that, it’s an important work for its commentary on race, culture, and history, and I’m glad I’ve read it. (Magical Realism/Fantasy?)

Comics

Graphic novels first:

None. And I’m officially behind on graphic novels I need to read….

Individual Issues:

I got through my giant pile of comics! YAY!!! I still have a bit of a pile, but it’s manageable, something I can knock out in a weekend. But yes, I read a LOT of comics this month…. 53 total! What was good? Well, I’m glad you asked: Batman Eternal (warning, it’s a weekly title) has been incredibly compelling so far. Batman is FINALLY picking up with its “Zero Year” storyline (about time… I was ready to drop the title), and speaking of pick-ups, Wonder Woman is finally starting to grab my attention (it was another on the chopping block). Coffin Hill is super interesting, and Magneto has been surprisingly engaging. Then there’s my favorites: Lazarus, Ms. Marvel, and Sex Criminals.

In terms of chopping blocks, Batwoman is so on it. I haven’t been pleased with the writing nor the art since the new creative team took over, and I’m close to dropping it. I have dropped Hinterkind and Loki: Agent of Asgard: the former because the only thing that really compelled me was the art, particularly the cover art, and the latter because it references too many Marvel titles I don’t follow and there’s this old versus new thing going on that’s making me scratch my head. Oh well, it was worth a shot.

American Vampire: Second Cycle #1
American Vampire: Second Cycle #2
Batgirl #30
Batman #28
Batman #29
Batman #30
Batman Black & White #5
Batman Black & White #6
Batman Eternal #1
Batman Eternal #2
Batman Eternal #3
Batwoman #28
Batwoman #29
Batwoman #30
Black Widow #5
Captain Marvel #2
Coffin Hill #3
Coffin Hill #4
Coffin Hill #5
Coffin Hill #6
Coffin Hill #7
East of West #10
East of West #11
Elektra #1
Fairest #23
Fairest #24
Fatale #21
Harley Quinn #4
Harley Quinn 100 Page Spectacular #1
Hinterkind #5
Hinterkind #6
Kick-Ass 3 #7
Lazarus #7
Loki: Agent of Asgard #3
Magneto #2
Ms. Marvel #2
Ms. Marvel #3
Rover Red Charlie #5
Sex Criminals #5
Star Wars #15
Superman: Lois Lane #1 (One-Shot)
The Manhattan Projects #18
The Manhattan Projects #19
The Massive #19
The Massive #20
The Massive #21
The Unwritten: Apocalypse #1
The Wake #7
The Walking Dead #124
The Walking Dead #125
The Walking Dead #126
Trillium #8
Wonder Woman #29

Movies

In Theaters:

Captain America: Winter Soldier: yay, yay, and more yay. I love me some Falcon!

At home:

Not much, but that’s okay. All of the movies were enjoyable and good, though props to Frozen and In a World….

Blue is the Warmest Color
Frozen
In a World…
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The Machine

Television Shows

I know it looks like I did NOTHING but watch television in April, but many of these are for ongoing shows that I’ve been watching week-to-week that just wrapped up.

Archer, Season 4: this we watched on Netflix when we wanted something to entertain us during meals. That means I’m officially a season behind because we’re only watching this on Netflix, but that’s okay. Season 4 was fun and irreverent, exactly what Archer should always be. Danger zone!

Community, Season 5: while I’m a fan of this show, I’m not a six-seasons-and-a-movie! fan. Frankly, I was surprised and a little disappointed that it got renewed for this season, because I thought season 4 ended on a good note. So whatever NBC does with this show, I’m fine. It was a good, enjoyable season, though some of the episodes referenced pop culture moments that I was oblivious to, and by oblivious, I mean I knew a reference was happening, but I just didn’t know what the reference was.

The Following, Season 2: everyone has a show they love to hate. This one is mine. There was so much BAD in season 1 that I really didn’t have any plans to watch season 2. Until my husband said, “Well, we can add it on Hulu and just watch it if we feel like it….” which meant we watched it. As a whole, season 2 was better in season 1, but there were still moments of stupid, and moments of sheer plot contrivances that made little to no sense when all was said and done. That said, season 2 introduced Ryan Hardy’s niece Max, and I freaking love her. But this show’s got problems, and sometimes feels like a poor man’s version of Hannibal’s Will/Hannibal dynamic. I told my husband I have a vision for where I hope The Following goes (it’s been renewed for season 3), and only time will tell if the writers are on the same wavelength.

House of Cards, Season 2: oh hell, what a show. Quietly intense and compelling, I was thoroughly engaged through-out the season. It’s amazing when you can take characters who do bad, horrible things and still root for them to win. I love the acting on this show, and look forward to the third season.

Justified, Season 5: this is one of my favorite shows, and the penultimate season was quite enjoyable. I did wonder a bit at Ava’s storyline, as I felt the writers were maybe a little TOO enamored of Orange is the New Black, but it certainly paid off in the finale, and there were lots of things that were set up to make the sixth and final season to be a real treat. While Season 2 remains my favorite season (and the best season) of the show in my mind, I still love this show and its dark humor. It really knows how to punch you in the gut.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Season 1: this season is really a one-hit wonder, as it’s been cancelled but it was always meant to stand alone, and that’s okay. I’ve had a love/like relationship with it: the first 30 minutes of the pilot were awesome, but when the characters got to Wonderland and the CGI was in full force, oy…. it was hard to watch. Also hard to watch was Anastasia aka the Red Queen, whose pouty lips were desperately trying to reach Regina-level sneers and failing utterly. But the show evolved, and once we hit the midpoint of the season and beyond, when the characters really started getting meaty (even Anastasia!), it was actually quite enjoyable. The finale was perfect in terms of story and emotional resolution, so much so that I kept expecting a gotcha! cliffhanger at the very end. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case. If you’re a fan of Once Upon a Time and want some crossover appeal, this is worth watching if you can get your hands on it. Especially for their take on the Jabberwocky. I want the Jabberwocky to show up in the main series!

Orphan Black, Season 1: OMG-I’M-SO-HOOKED. I’ve been dying to catch this show FOREVER, but it originally aired when we’d cut the chord, and I figured I’d get it on Netflix, except the show signed an exclusive streaming deal with Amazon Prime, which allows Prime members to see season 1 for free but everyone else has to pay. Dashed were my hopes for watching it, until I noticed iTunes had the pilot for free. The hubby and I sat down to watch it, and then promptly bought the first season. IT’S SO GOOD. If you can watch it, watch it. I understand now why people are so in love with Tatiana Maslany and her ability to craft so many different, unique women in so many fantastic ways. Season 2’s season pass has already been purchased on iTunes, and I can’t wait to get caught up.

Parks & Recreation, Season 6: I love this show. It’s one of the good-hearted comedies with a minimum of mean moments that are played for humor. So many big, wonderful things happened this season, and honestly, it’s a show that knows how to make me laugh and cry, and that’s a great thing. I love the ensemble, and the season finale was such that it could’ve been a perfect series finale (except that LAST little cliffhanger end). I look forward to a season 7, but I’m hoping that it’ll be the last season: I might love this show, but I love closure more, and it’s time.

Veep, Season 2: we actually watched most of this season last year, before we cut the chord. We had two episodes to go and finally got to watch them via HBO Go. It’s hard to comment on this show, because it’s one of those painfully awkward comedies that makes you wince more than laugh. The acting is great, and it’s amusing how both Veep and House of Cards use a similar scenario to create such different tones to different story lines. We’re watching season 3 now.

The Waking Dead, Season 4: actually quite an interesting season, particularly second half of the season. I have a strong suspicion I know what’s going on at Terminus (though since the finale, I think we all have that same suspicion), and I look forward to seeing where the show goes next. Don’t look at the flowers, yo!

That’s it from me! 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!

Cheers!

3 thoughts on “Culture Consumption: April 2014

  1. This month was a weird reading month for me. I did not finish much fiction, though I am partway through several things. What I have completed is as follows:

    1. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, by Brene Brown. 5 stars. I read this for my church, though it is not an overtly religious book. I thought it was really wonderful. If you’re interested, here is a link to a TED talk Brene Brown gave on the topic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0

    2. Purgatorio, by Dante Alighieri, which is part 2 of the Divine Comedy. 3 stars. I am reading the Diving Comedy and listening to lectures on it from the Teaching Company with my father . I liked Inferno better. This one turned into a bit of a slog, though I am still glad I read it. Paradisio is up next.

    3.The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War, by Graham Robb. 4.5 stars. This is a really unique sort of history book. It traces the transformation of France from hundreds of small, fairly independent areas to a country that felt itself to be a country.

    4. Once a Hero, by Elizabeth Moon. 4 stars. This was a re-read.

    5. Two short stories and one novelette that were nominated for the Hugos. I’m now done reading the short stories, but have stuff in all the other cotegories to read.

    Like

      1. I read the Rachel Swirsky and Sofia Samatar short stories. I had read the other two short stories in The Best of Tor.com a month or two ago. I liked both the stories I read this month a whole lot.

        Then I read Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal, which I also liked. I have not yet read any of the other Novelettes, so I have nothing to compare it with yet.

        Like

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