Culture Consumption: June 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!

June was a strange reading month, thanks to the Hugos. Comics were neglected, and I only read one actual novel-length work. Crazy! But I ended up reading a lot of short fiction and finished a television show I’ve been wanting to complete for a long time. So let’s see what June held in store, shall we?

CULTURE CONSUMPTION: June 2014

Books

My goal for 2014 is essentially one book a week. I technically read just one single book in an entire month, so yeah, that’s a fail. But that’s okay: the short stories, novelettes, and novellas make up for it!

19) The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu: an entertaining sort of read, but not the kind of thing that I would’ve necessarily picked up on my own. That being said, I realized halfway through the book that I had a similar plot device that I was brainstorming a few years ago. Different execution, mind you: The Lives of Tao is almost too grand and too large, but the characters are easy to care about. Glad I got to read it (as part of the Campbell shortlist), but I’m not in a huge hurry to get to the sequels. (Science Fiction)

Short Fiction

Y’all, I read way too many short stories in June. So many that I don’t even have the wherewithal to provide commentary for each and every one, so guess what? You’re not getting any. Also, that’s a good thing, since most of these were Hugo nominations and I really dislike overstating what my ballot will look like. Just because I like or dislike something doesn’t mean I’m right, and I don’t want to unfairly bias potential readers. That being said, you’ll know the stuff I like because I’ll feature it on Fiction Friday, and as always, if you DO want to talk about something in detail, just ask in the comments. 🙂

I will say that I definitely need to start reading more fiction by Ted Chiang and John Chu, both of which were first-time discoveries for me thanks to the Hugo ballot. Also, A.M. Dellamonica? I want a novel in this world now. And by now, I mean by yesterday. 🙂

9) Selkie Stories Are For Losers by Sofia Samatar
10) If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky
11) The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere by John Chu
12) The Ink Readers of Doi Saket by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
13) The Waiting Stars by Aliette de Bodard
14) The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang
15) The Exchange Officers by Brad Torgersen
16) Opera Vita Aeterna by Vox Day
17) Equoid by Charles Stross
18) The Chaplain’s Legacy by Brad Torgersen
19) The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells
20) Night’s Slow Poison by Ann Leckie
21) Fade to Gold by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
22) Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
23) The Bees Her Heart, The Hive Her Body by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
24) The Color of Paradox by A.M. Dellamonica
25) The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo
26) Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo

Comics

Graphic novels first:

None this go-around. Like I sad, I’ve been busy with the Hugo’s.

Individual Issues:

I’ve let a HUGE pile of comics build up again, but it’s all for a good cause, because I’ve been reading for the Hugo’s. I spent a few days in June trying to keep the comic pile from spilling, and this is what I managed. I will say that Batgirl is starting to lose me, because I’ve hated the artist they’ve been using for a long time (he does HORRIBLE faces), and issue #32 hinted at a few crossover things that had me sighing and rolling my eyes. We’ll see. I really need to cut some titles, so I’m getting more and more critical each time I pick up an issue. But yay for Sex Criminals coming back. HA! See what I did there? You should, if you read the book. 😉

Batgirl #31
Batgirl #32
Batman #31
Batman #32
Caliban #2
Fatale #23
Harley Quinn #6
Harley Quinn #7
Ms. Marvel #4
Ms. Marvel #5
Rover Red Charlie #6
Sex Criminals #6
Star Wars Legacy #15
Star Wars Legacy #16
The Wake #9
The Walking Dead #128
Wonder Woman #31
Wonder Woman #32

Movies

In Theaters:

A Million Ways To Die in the West: this was mine and my hubby’s gift to my father-in-law, who’s a big fan of Westerns and wanted to see this comedy-Western and since the trailer had my hubby and I in stitches, we wanted to see it too. There’s some genuinely funny moments in there, and not all were spoiled in the trailer, but it’s wasn’t as funny as the trailer had me hoping it was, and it’s the kind of movie to easily forget about after it’s over. Oh, and raunchy. I expect that because it’s Seth MacFarlane, but still, raunchier than I expected.

At home:

Concussion: after seeing the rather provocative poster over and over and over on the screensaver for the Apple TV, the hubby and I gave it a go. Talk about a rather delightful surprise on a host of levels, and if you’re a fan of Deadwood who not only misses Calamity Jane but wants all of your mental images of her shattered, watch this movie! Really, really good film, one I’m glad I caught.

The LEGO Movie: I’d heard SO MANY GOOD THINGS about this movie that I was counting down the days for it to be available to rent, but when I started watching, I was quickly in WTF? territory. I sat back and told myself to enjoy it, and by the movie’s end, I get it. Pretty clever, a lot of fun, with an ear worm of a song that’ll drive you crazy to boot. Easy for both adults and children to enjoy.

Nebraska: sheer and total slice-of-life/character study that’s so true to the characters and life it’s depicting that it’s often painful. But it’s extraordinarily well-acted (even Will Forte, who knew?) and despite being in black-and-white, the cinematography was quite striking, making me wish for color in certain scenes just to get the full effect of the vistas. Good movie, serious movie, but compelling.

This is Spinal Tap: I’ve never seen what my husband says in the original mockumentary, and since he was in the mood to watch it, we did. It’s a movie I can appreciate for what it was and what it does, but it’s nothing life-changing. I can say I’ve seen it, and since it’s something of a classic, that’s a good thing, but it’s not a movie I’ll ever be in love with.

Television Shows

I behaved. Sort of. Half of the shows I watched wrapped up their seasons in June, and the rest we marathoned.

Here we go, in alphabetical order:

Boardwalk Empire, Season 4: finally got to catch up on this show so that we could watch the fifth and final season live when it premieres this fall. This is a show I like, and it’s one that benefits from binge-watching over watching live simply because it’s told at such a deliberately quiet pace that it’s easy to forget points from week-to-week. But it’s week acted, nicely designed, and an interesting mixture of both compelling and maddening. I look forward to seeing where the final season takes us, because this fourth season put a lot of irons in the fire, and I’m curious where everyone will end up.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: I never saw the Carl Sagan original. Never heard of it until Neil deGrasse Tyson’s came on the air. And I watched it because, hey, Neil deGrasse Tyson! I listen to his podcast StarTalk Radio every week, and I was thrilled to see him on my television. And I liked the show. I found that I learned at least one new thing every episode, if not more. The effects were quite captivating, and the animation to illustrate the various scientific achievements through history grew on me rather nicely. I don’t know if this show is coming back for another season or not, but it’s a great way to pass the time. Some of the parts of the show might be rather elementary for you, but on the whole it’s worth watching and worth sharing.

Friday Night Lights, Seasons 3, 4, and 5: the hubby and I got through the first two seasons last summer, and decided to finish the show this summer. I didn’t think we’d get through 36 episodes quite so quickly, but this show is so compellingly watchable that you can’t help but keep pressing play each time an unwatched episode queues up. It’s so, so good, and the series finale was just about perfect. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried. Friday Night Lights is a family about family, community, and all the ways those things can build you up and let you down, all focused through a lens of football in a football town. Trust me when I say you don’t have to be a football fan to love this show. It’s got heart, and it’ll give you ALL THE FEELS. Seriously. Texas Forever.

Game of Thrones, Season 4: Abigail Nussbaum of Asking the Wrong Questions summed up season four — and indeed, the entirety of the show — rather succinctly for me:

I find the show terribly engaging while it’s on, and tend to lose interest very quickly once the season has ended.

And there’s not a whole lot to say other than that. Having read the books, I know what’s going to happen for the most part, so I enjoyed seeing certain scenes brought to life. I don’t even mind the deviations from the book (and I’m TOTALLY ON BOARD with Entertainment Weekly critic James Hibberd’s stance on a particular deviation, which you can read about here, but warning! Book spoilers!), and frankly, now that book three is officially DONE on the show, I’m rather dreading seeing the next two books adapted, because there’s SO LITTLE GOING ON in all those hundreds of pages.

That being said, I’ll be back. I’ll be back despite missteps & mistakes (Jamie/Cersei) because we’ve reached the point where the show is giving us glimpses of story that even George R.R. Martin hasn’t given us yet, and because I firmly believe that HBO’s going to finish telling the saga before Martin does. So we’ll see. 🙂

Silicon Valley, Season 1: this is a show that I probably wouldn’t have kept up with if not for the fact my husband really latched on to it and found it hysterical. Sure, it had its funny moments, and it definitely got funnier as the season went along, but for me, a lot of it, especially towards the beginning, was painful, cringing humor. But like I said, it has its moments, and it does get better as the season goes on, so we’ll see. I’m already committed to season two, thanks to the hubby.

Veep, Season 3: this is another painfully awkward comedy, but it’s well-acted and a good way to wile away thirty minutes while eating supper. I’m rather amused that the large plot strokes of Veep echo very much the rather large plot strokes of the second season of House of Cards, but the shows are SO UTTERLY DIFFERENT. Maybe it’s because there’s not that many stories you can tell with someone who’s the Veep? Or is it because the writers have limited imaginations? Or because they know their audience, especially in the case of Veep, and realize there’s only so long we can watch Selina Meyer spin her wheels before we give up and go? Whatever the reason, it was an entertaining season.


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!

13 thoughts on “Culture Consumption: June 2014

  1. “because I firmly believe that HBO’s going to finish telling the saga before Martin do”

    Yep! And yet Martin appears to remain under the delusion that he can keep ahead of it. As someone who’s been keeping pace with my reading (I read the book, then watch the season), I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do when the series fully surpasses A Dance of Dragons. A few subplots here or there are one thing but do I want to experience an entire books worth of content in the show before the books released?

    I think it’s worth noting that I’m behind on the show right now. I just got season 3 from the library.

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    1. I keep seeing more recent articles that indicate Martin’s getting less and less delusioned. 🙂 He’s shared the ending of the saga with the HBO writers, and they’ve commented on it. They haven’t spoiled anything, of course, but they’ve commented.

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  2. I’ve stopped reading Martin’s books and will finish once he does (whenever that happens). In June I read 13 books! My absolute favorite of the bunch was The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst.

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    1. What books did you read? I’ve always wanted to read one of Durst’s books but haven’t yet. Have you read her others? Is THE LOST the best?

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  3. The books I read in June are, Ink by Amanda Sun, Shadow by Amanda Sun, Rain by Amanda Sun, Champion by Marie Lu, The Wizard’s Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke, The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa, A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, Legacy of Tril: Soulbound by Heather Brewer, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Unbound by Victoria Schwab, The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst, Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead, and Silver Phoneix by Cindy Pon.

    I’ve read three of Durst’s books, The Lost, Enchanted Ivy, and Ice. I’ve enjoyed all of her books, but The Lost is my favorite. I liked the emotional complexities between the characters and The Lost is her first adult novel. Luckily it’s going to be series so there will be more from that world.

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        1. I did. I actually really loved it, but it’s his short fiction that’s really hit and miss with me. I’m not a Gaiman fangirl by any means, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane really resonated with me. It was what I think I wanted Jo Walton’s Among Others to be, as strange as it sounds.

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  4. Here’s what I read:

    New books:
    1. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison (AKA Sarah Monette), 5 stars. I loved this to pieces.
    2. Paridisio, by Dante Alighieri, 3 stars. This is the last part of the divine comedy and I am really glad to be done with it.
    3. Neptune’s Brood, by Charlie Stross, 4 stars. I had previously bounced off of Accelerando and was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this as much as I did.
    4. The Pieces We Keep, by Kristina Mc Morris. DNF. This was for my local bookclub. I got 54 % done by the bookclub meeting, and just could not convince myself to finish this.
    5. Blind Man’s Bluff, by Kay Stockham. 3 stars. Book number five out of nine in the romance bundle I bought. It was OK, but reminded me of why I don’t do well with contempory romance.
    6. Where Dreams are Born, by ML Buchman. 4 stars. Book number six in the romance bundle. Despite what I said about not liking contempory romance on the last book, I did very much like this one. In fact, I went out and bought the remaining 4 books in the series and read all five in just three or four days. Very quick reads.
    7. Where Dreams Reside,by ML Buchman. 4 stars.
    8. Maria’s Christmas Table, by ML Buchman. 4 stars
    9. Where Dreams Unfold, by ML Buchman. 4 stars.
    10. Huntress for Hire, by Terry Spear. DNF. Book number 7 in the romance bundle. I read about 10 pages and found the writing so atrocious I could not continue. It is the only romance in the bundle so far that is paranormal romance rather than straight romance, and OMG the vampire cliches.

    Short Fiction:
    The Waiting Stars, by Aliette de Bodard. 5 stars. I liked this one a lot.

    No re-reads at all this month, which is unusual.

    I need to get going on finishing my Hugo reading!

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