• January 2020 Media Roundup

    Is it just me, or did January feel like it lasted forEVER? The bright side of it is that I got a lot done, to the tune of 10 movies in the theater (thank you Regal Unlimited!) and 8 books read.

    I thought I'd talk about a few favorites and duds from this past month.

    Favorite book of the month: The Lies of Locke Lamora

    Matt gave me this book for our Christmas eve swap. I would have said that it wasn't a book I'd have picked on my own, but lo and behold, I found book 3 of the trilogy on my shelf. So not only was it a book that I would've picked, I didn't know it was a trilogy. At some point, I'll have to pick up book 2. O.o Anyway, the book was a very fun read. It's a thievery book that is very cheeky, and that's what makes it great. If the book took itself too seriously, I don't think it would have been nearly as fun.

    Honorable mention: Why We Sleep

    I feel wrong NOT mentioning this book, because I've been raving about it to anyone who will listen for several days now. Whether you have sleep problems or not, this book is going to freak you out about your sleep health and habits. But it's also oh-so-fascinating, and I want to go around to all my family and friends and complete strangers and tell them how to sleep better. 

    Less than stellar: Walking Disaster

    This is the sequel to Beautiful Disaster, which I read in December for book club. The first book was controversial enough to warrant the second one getting cancelled by the group. But I'd already bought it, and I knew it'd be a quick read, so...yeah. It's a weird read. The relationship in it is problematic even from the guy's perspective. Like, "I bought you a dog even though we're not dating and can't keep the dog at your dorm so that you'll come over to my place to visit" is just ... strange. But hey, you do you.

    Favorite movie: The Gentlemen

    This Guy Ritchie movie was interesting from start to finish. I enjoyed not knowing how all the puzzle pieces were going to fit together until the end, and it scratched my Knives Out itch.

    Why did I sit through this movie: The Turning

    Okay, so it's an adaptation of The Turning of the Screw, which I didn't know going into it. Most of the movie is unremarkable. Matt said that it's the kind of quality he often finds when he looks for cheezy horror on Netflix. But the ending is terrible. It's very jarring and contradictory - like there were two directors, and they couldn't decide what the ending was, so they just stacked them on top of each other. If they had just stopped at the first ending, it would have been just okay. Instead, it left a bad taste in my mouth. If you want to see an example of a good meta ending, see Little Women

  • 2019 Book and Movie Roundup

    In 2019, I read 45 books, 10 of which were audio books. I also listened to several free Audible Originals, and worked my way through a Great Courses course on mythology, but I don't 'count' those. 

    I know that sounds like a lot, but in some ways, it was a slow year for me. As is my tendency, I either blast through books, or I can't get through them to save my life. A good chunk of this year was the latter - if it weren't for having book clubs to keep me accountable, I think the amount of books I finished would have been far lower. I seem to be back on an upswing though, and while my book goal is "only" set at 40, I'd love it if I got to 52. Heaven knows I have enough books sitting around to do it. 

    Looking through the list, if I had to pull a top 10, I think this is what it would be - in no particular order.

    Ninth House
    The Family Upstairs
    The Testaments
    The Immortalists
    The Island of Sea Women
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    Spinning Silver
    Girl, Stop Apologizing
    The Last Romantics

    Of this list, Spinning Silver, Ninth House, and The Testaments would be my top 3, but I also thoroughly enjoyed The Family Upstairs, The Immortalists and ... yeah, okay, the rest of this list. 

    Friendtimacy is a fantastic non-fiction book, and one that I feel like every woman should read at some point at in her life. Shasta Nelson walks you though the 'types' of friendships, how every type is important, and how every friendship is unique. It's a fairly complex, but very understandable book. I don't think all of my friends thought it was the revelation that I thought it was, but I highly recommend it.

    The Testaments and Spinning Silver are from authors whose work I already love. The Testaments is the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, and Spinning Silver is a 'thematic sequel' to Uprooted. Both Silver and Uprooted are darker fantasy fairytale novels. So I went into both of these sequels predisposed to enjoy the books. Ninth House was a surprise for me. Leigh Bardugo is a YA author who is familiar to many, but I don't wander into the YA section nearly as much as I should. If you're looking for a dark, paranormal/fantasy mystery, this is a really good one. I'd barely finished when I was clamoring for the sequel. 

    Now, on the movie front, I have a little less to say, though not for lack of material to work with. I made it a point to see more movies this year, and then the Regal Unlimited pass happened. It's Regal's answer to MoviePass (is that still a thing?) - the cost varies a little by area, but for me, it's $21 a month, which is just under two tickets. So if I see two movies a month, I've more than paid for it. 
    Between August and the end of the year, I saw 33 movies, so, uh...
    I could not go again for the rest of the year (you have to do a 1 year commitment) and the pass is more than paid for.

    The problem is that I didn't keep track of all the movies we saw - something I've decided to remedy this year. 

    I will say that, seeing so many movies, it has changed how I view movies. There were movies that I'd walk out of and exclaim, "THAT WAS SO GOOD!" (Knives Out) - and there were movies I would walk out of and say, "Wow, I enjoyed it, but I feel weird saying that was good." (Queen and Slim) There are movies that are great for entertainment, and there are movies that make you think. Like, "Go home and rethink your life" sort of thinking. 

    Off the top of my head, if you haven't seen Queen & Slim, Harriet, and Dark Waters, track those down when they hit dvd/streaming. Those were all very good, poignant movies. They were all heavy, though, so don't go into them on a bad day.

    Charlie's Angels was a stinker for most people, but I genuinely enjoyed it. It was a super fun, girl power rah rah movie. I definitely think it's aimed at a younger crowd, though. (By which I just mean, if you were a big fan when the original show was on, maybe skip it.)

    I loved the Star Wars and Avengers movies, but those are hard to review because in general, you're either going to love them or you're not. Series movies, and movies that require a lot of context aren't movies you really recommend to your friends - they're either going to see them, or they don't care and there's no point. That said, I wasn't sure if I would like Captain Marvel, but now she's legit one of my favorites.

    One movie that, to me, deserves a special nod is Black kKklansman, even though it came out last year. I didn't see it until around the Oscars, and that movie does a great job of being both entertaining and super poignant. I don't have a special shelf for movies I love, but if I did, that one may very well go on it.

    Downton Abbey was fun, and Matt and I made a point of rewatching the entire series leading up to the movie. We were very fresh off the finale when we went to see the movie, and I adored it. It was everything I would want a Downton Abbey movie to be. 

    But, I'm pretty sure that my favorite movie of the year is Knives Out. That movie is incredibly clever, funny, and just well done. If you haven't seen it, look up the trailer. If it looks remotely interesting to you, SEE IT. You will like it. I even got my parents to go see it with me, and they enjoyed it. (Granted, I figured my dad would, but even mom did.)

    I'm excited to see what 2020 brings for books and movies. There's a new Bond and Wonder Woman movies to look forward to, and, at the end of the year, Godzilla V Kong. There hasn't been a trailer for it (to my knowledge), but I'm super geeked about that one.