Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What did I see in 2014? Movie Edition.

One of the many things I love about College Station are the $4 movies.  I see a lot of movies here.  Probably not a lot by some standards but for me it's a lot. Especially since at home I probably only saw a handful a year. Here I saw movies I really wanted to see and movies I wasn't that interested in because they're so cheap!  Unless you go to the IMAX, that's normal price.  The cheap movies are so important it was brought up in my interview with A&M 2.5 years ago. So here's what I saw-

  1. Frozen* - love
  2. The Monuments Men - meh
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel* - LOVE
  4. Captain America: Winter Soldier - uhg
  5. Divergent - NO
  6. The Fault in the Stars - why?!? I'm still crying.
  7. Maleficent - okay
  8. Jersey Boys - okay (I did buy the cheap DVD at Target)
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy* - LOVE
  10. This is Where I leave You - Good
  11. Gone Girl* - GREAT
  12. The Book of Life - Awwwwww
  13. Big Hero 6* - Love- still crying 
  14. The Hunger Games- Mockingjay Part 1 - NO, No, no
  15. Interstellar* - YES!
  16. Into the Woods - NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO no, well maybe. 

Most of these movies I went to with friends which is nice. I thinkI only saw one of these movies alone and that was The Fault in the Stars- I was a sobbing mess it was fine to be alone for that one. The rest were with friends. 2013 that wouldn't have been the case, I saw tons of movies alone then.

Now out of these movies there was really only one I saw that I didn't want to see- Captain American- I'm not a fan.  So again that's kinda interesting.  There was also only one movie that was outright terrible and that was Divergent.  It was bad. Bad bad. So bad I don't really want to see the other movies...but I probably will I like to finish series.

My favorite movies are starred.  But Interstellar wins, even though my friends didn't like it, but I loved it! I want to see it again it was so good.  Big Hero 6 was awesome and I can't wait to show it to my nephew when it comes out on DVD.  Gone Girl was great, for a book adaptation it didn't piss me off.  Guardians of the Galaxy also awesome and I have already gotten to watch it with my nephew- he enjoyed it I think. Grand Budapest Hotel was great. I got to see it with another Wes Anderson fan so that was awesome and it was just so enjoyable.  Then Frozen cause who doesn't like Frozen?

There were lots of book adaptations this year and only 2 I can say I liked. Monuments Men I think was one, Divergent SUCKED as a movie and an adaptation, The Fault in our Stars was such a good adaptation I told people if they saw the movie they didn't need to read the book or if they read the book they really didn't need to see the movie. BECAUSE THEY WERE EXACTLY THE SAME.  This is Where I Leave You was an okay adaptation, I still enjoyed it. Gone Girl was awesome.  Hunger Games which I saw twice was not a good adaptation.

I think it was a good year in movies. There were a few I missed I wanted to catch, but I'll probably see them later. I saw pretty much all the ones I really wanted to see in theaters so that's good.  Here's to 2015 and more cheap movies in College Station.

Want to check out what I read this year? See previous blog post.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review: Attachments

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And then I'm sobbing uncontrollably. Oh god. Perfection. This is the most aptly named book I've ever read. About attachments. That's what it's about. About those attachments we make, irrational or not. We make them. We can't imagine our life without them. Whether friendships or relationships those attachments we make are not made easily and not broken easily. God I just wanna curl up in a little ball. I'm gonna finish my wine and go to bed. But I finished. I finished this book and my book goal for the year. Good Night.

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2014 in Books.

Well this was  a sad year for my reading. I set a really low goal for myself of 30 books. In hopes that would give me time to read longer books without the stress of having to hit my usual over 50 goal.  But this did not happen. I instead took my leisurely time allover and just didn't read that much.

Just for reference in 2011 I read 17 books (I was still in grad school the spring of this year. 2012 I read 55 books and 2013 I read 56 books. So this year's 30 makes me sad, but that's okay I have more memories than just books this year so it's cool.

Since I only read 30 books I can list them all here, rank them and even blurby blurb a little about the ones I liked or really didn't.  Here's a link to my Goodreads page for this year, but I'll link my favorite ones or ones I think people should check out

  1. Wool - if you like speculative fiction this is a must! 
  2. The Magician's Land - read the whole series if you're a fan of Harry Potter or Narnia or both!
  3. Big Little Lies - Not yo-mama's chick-lit- read it if you're a woman
  4. Annihilation - read if you like to get freaked out and like sci-fi-y type stuff
  5. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
  6. Landline - read if you didn't read a good Christmas story this year
  7. The Last Anniversary
  8. Attachments (edit after actually finishing the book) 
  9. Shift
  10. Dust
  11. Yes Please (audiobook, read by author) - listen to if you have a long car ride coming up
  12. This is Where I leave You - read if you have siblings
  13. Bossypants (audiobook, read by author)
  14. Sand Omnibus
  15. Night Film
  16. The Shell Collector - read if you're worried about global warming
  17. Three Wishes
  18. Eleanor & Park
  19. Delicious!
  20. The Book of Life
  21. The Husband's Secret
  22. The Timekeeper
  23. We Were Liars
  24. California (audiobook)
  25. Authority
  26. Hollow City
  27. The Giver (Half audiobook, read last half) - no 
  28. The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy (audiobook) - no

Read in a previous year, reread, it's cheating I know. But I actually listened to both of these on Audiobook my first time around and this time I read the actual physical books in my hands- so not even on my nook. So hopefully that makes up for it...hmmm who did I lend these to...they aren't on my bookshelf. 
*The Magician King

Now when I rank books, I don't go back and look at the initial review I wrote on Goodreads, but go by what I remember. Because sometimes my review and what I remember 6 months later is drastically different. It's amazing sometimes how different the impression a book leaves on me versus the initial opinion.  I used to make myself sleep before I wrote my reviews, but I was especially lazy this year.

Another interesting thing about this year was the number of repeat authors. Five authors I read multiple books by.  The most being Hugh Howey, I read 5 of his books, more if you broke up the omnibus' I read.  He will definitely go down as my favorite author/new to me author of 2014. I got wrapped up in his Wool/Silo series and then needed to read everything else he wrote.  He's a really easy to read author, but a great world creator and a great speculative fiction writer because I'm terrified of all the things he wrote about.  Next is Liane Moriarty who is not your average Chick-Lit Author. Yes her target readers are women, but she talks about some seriously tough issues.  Tough marriage issues, societal issues and raising kids. I have really enjoyed all her books and look forward to what she does next.  If you haven't read any of her books I can't recommend Big Little Lies more. Then there's Lev Grossman who I read 3 books from, 2 were re-reads of and the 3rd was the finale in his Magicians Trilogy. I love his books. When I finished the series I thought I'd never find anything I loved as much as those books. It took me a while to get out of my post-read funk with those books, because They were amazing.  Rainbow Rowell I've also read 3 of her book this year.  Landline was a Goodreads Book Buddy read and I enjoyed it so much I picked up two more of her books.  The other two weren't as good but I enjoyed them enough.  Then Jeff Vandermeer I finished 2 of his books and am still working on the 3rd of the Southern Reach Trilogy. I loved his first so much it was a Goodreads first read and it freaked me out! The 2nd I didn't like as much so the third is dragging for me.

Then there are the audiobooks from this year.  Man I listened to some crappy audiobooks.  I don't know if it was the book or just the audiobook that was bad, but I am not a fan of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or The Giver and I know so many people who loves those! But the audiobooks were painful so I have no desire to continue those series.  I also listened to California on audiobook as it was a Goodreads promotion as well and I loved the story and think I really would have liked the book more had it not been read by a woman who sounded like a 12 year old boy. Seriously, it's higher on my ranking because I did really engage in the story.  Then I listened to two very good audiobooks- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's books were delightful.  Well produced audiobooks and read by the author.  I think that's the key.  They were excellent books on their own, but I feel like when the author read's their own story it makes it so much more believable and engaging.  I loved those two audiobooks and am glad I picked them up.

So overall I'm not disappointed in this year of reading because of what I read but because of just the number. So my own fault completely.  I'm so glad I discovered Hugh Howey this year and some series I'd been reading wrapped up so that's nice and I think there are some books from this year I'll definitely still be thinking about into next year and recommending.  I read a good amount of bubblegum, just feel good books and that's okay.  Especially since it took me practically the entire year to finish my Murakami book.  I think next year I'll set my goal a little higher but not back up to my 50-55 yet.  We'll see how it goes, I feel like 40 is pretty reasonable.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

God I'm so glad I was never in love as a teenager. It seems so painful gosh. I really enjoyed this book too. I find this author's writing style super easy to follow and a very quick read. She uses lots of dialogue that's a thing in YA right? While I enjoyed Landline more and will remember it much more fondly I really liked this book too. But seriously maybe I'm just too old or something but geesh kids think everything is life or death, right? I really don't feel like this book was set in the 80s I mean yah there are no smart phones, computers and they use mixed tapes (adorable) but really I didn't feel like it needed to be set in a certain decade. SPOILER ALERT- I think there are still these problems today with blended families (isn't that what we called it in the 90s?) Step-parents that are abusive and kids that are afraid to tell someone. I mean of course if you grow up afraid of your parents, like actually physically and mentally afraid of your parents what sort of toll will that take on your life?! Afraid of being kicked out of your home, hit by your parents, your siblings abused or neglected. I can't imagine it, but those were the truly shocking and upsetting moments of the book. The love story- eh whatever again I too hate Romeo and Juliet and don't consider it a great love story so yah there's that...but I still enjoyed the book and will look back on it well...don't know if I want to read anything else by this author her other book didn't really appeal to me like Landline and this one.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Review: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh goodness. Mr. Murakami. Well it took me about a year to read this book. Just your average 600 page book, except it's Murakami meaning it doesn't really pick up till page 400. The first 400 pages are all random stories that have nothing to do with the main story. 1Q84 was just like that- you don't really know what's happening till it's almost all over. So on the surface this is a book about a man whose cat and wife runs away. In order to get his wife back his cat has to return. But in the telling of that simple story there are some amazing characters with their own amazing stories that also have to be told. There's war, stories of zoo animals being murdered, stories of being trapped at the bottom of a well. I just love the storytelling. Does Murakami have a collection of short stories? I've read individual short stories published here and there, but man I love his storytelling. Like 1Q84 there were moments during this book where I couldn't wait for it to be over, I just wanted to figure it all out and see what happened! But then towards the end I could have listened to May Kasahara talk about the duck people forever, or Nutmeg talk about her color, or the Colonel and Boris the Manskinner's stories more. Just another wonderful Murakami book that I'll think about for a long long time, I'll recommend it to friends that'll never read it and every once in a while I'll get confused about what the real world is and what Murakami's world is.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: California

California by Edan Lepucki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay I couldn't wait to finish this on my next drive to SA. I got this audiobook for free from the Ford Audiobook thing and was super excited about it. I was really wanting to read this book anyway and was going to be driving a lot in September and October and thought why not. So first impression is that I really liked it. Second impression is that add some teenagers and it'd be just another annoying dystopian novel. Third impression omg people lie to their spouses! OMG people LIE. And so I really kinda landed with liking the book because there's a lot more there than just the average dystopia.

So quick summary, some natural and man made disasters have happened in the US and people retreat to exclusive "communities" however you have to have money to go to the communities, so cities like LA become kinda slums and there are no commercial industries outside of the communities, people have to fend for themselves and grow produce and things. Our two main characters Cal and Frida escape LA and go live in the wilderness trying and kinda succeeding to survive on their own. After a few years out in the woods on their own they discover a non-community community close by, try to become a part of it but there's all sorts of trouble because this damn couple wont stop lying to one another!

So half way through this book I got so frustrated and really did yell at the characters in my car to stop lying to one another. Half their heartache could have been avoided if they'd just been honest with one another. But then I started thinking that well that's probably life. People lie to one another all the time. We lie to our friends, family, co-workers, and spouses. Sometimes we lie because we think we're protecting them (dammit Cal tell Frida her brother is a jerk), sometimes we lie because we're punishing our spouses (dammit Frida tell Cal what happened with the pirates!) and then sometimes we lie just because it becomes a habit. Like so many other dystopian books before it the author uses a very cliche'd method of switching points of view every other chapter, but in this book it didn't bother me as much as it used to. I think partially because both characters head's thought similar things and both absolutely thought they were doing the right thing. But still I wanted to scream at both of them...Another thing I liked was that there was no love triangle, thank god.

The audiobook itself wasn't horrible, but it wasn't my favorite. The narrator sounded like a child. She sounded like she should have been reading a bad YA dystopian novel. Overall though an enjoyable 12 hour narration, half done on my drive to and from San Antonio and the rest in the morning while getting ready for work and the evenings while getting ready for bed. I don't know how I would feel about this book if I had actually read it...

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review: Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm going to need therapy after this book. Oh my god. Damn you Liane Moriarty. I barely know what to say except this isn't your mama's Chick-Lit. This is real, this is scar and this stuff happens! There's excellent humor thrown in for fun. There's funny and tragic suburban housewives. There's excellent use of Australian lingo I wouldn't have understood without my Australian Pen Pal. BUt this was a rough read. I had to race through the last 200 pages because after a certain revelation mid-way through I was so worried and invested in the characters.

This is a story about children, about parents, about bullying, about violence, about technology. About a million things we things about, talk about and deal with everyday. God all three of the mother's represent a little piece of all of us I think. The woman too concerned with the way things look, the woman just trying to make it work and the woman hiding some horrible secret. The children were really special too, the sweet, brave, lying children. The men were a piece of work and I'm pretty sure I dislike all of them in this book except for Tom and Jane's dad. But gosh what a book. I don't know what to do with the rest of my night besides drink all the wine in my house and wait to see my girlfriends tomorrow so we can digest this's a book that has given me way more to think about than a Chick Lit book should.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: This is Where I Leave You

This is Where I Leave You
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love. Love. Love. Funniest book I've read in a while. Really honest book as well. Honest about marriage, families, adultery and growing up. Growing up sucks, omg it sucks and this helps remind you that even though it sucks it's hilarious and tragic and real. I've been meaning to read this book for a while and finally got around to it cause the movie comes out soon, can't wait to see it and hope they do a good retelling. One of my favorite thing about this book is how totally quotable it is! I highlighted so many things on my nook! I keep reading things over and over again because they're true or funny, or both.

"My marriage ended the way these things to: with paramedics and cheesecake"

"If you've ever been in a failed marriage, and statistically speaking, it's a safe bet that you have, or, if not, that you soon will be, then you'll know that the first thing you do at the end is reflect on the beginning" TRUTH!

"Do you believe in God - Not really, no - Then why do we come here? - I've been wrong before" abbreviated but still a great quote.

"The old expression goes: A good speech is like a woman's skirt: short enough to hold your attention, long enough to cover the subject"

I really enjoyed this book.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: The Magicians

The Magicians
The Magicians by Lev Grossman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second read. This is a reread before the third book comes out. I'm also trying to cheat the GR system by letting it count towards my yearly total- I'm kinda book lazy this year. The first time I "read" this book. I listened to the audiobook on a long long drive and remember loving it. Actually reading it this time reminded me how much I do actually love it and how different things can seam when you listen to them versus actually read them. I don't feel like I lost too much from this book in the audiobook version honestly, but I do think the audiobook left out the time you need to absorb and think about certain things in this book. Once thing that I always remembered from the audiobook, and it may have been the readers voice, was that in order to do magic you have to be a truly miserable person. You have to be unhappy in order to do magic. And that is really hammered in there. And while reading the book you kinda fester in that, you get stuck in it a lot longer and it's more tragic. I'm excited to read book two because I also listened to that one the first time on audiobook, but I have my advance reader copy of that one that I wont on good reads so not only will I actually read it this time, but I'll actually read a tangible book instead of my usual ebooks.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: Authority

Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won this book through Goodreads First Reads. I would have bought it anyway because I read the first book [b:Annihilation|17934530|Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy, #1)|Jeff VanderMeer||24946895] and got completely enraptured by it. This book took me a little longer to get into. It was a little slower but really explained a lot. I think it was a perfect middle book, wasn't as scary as the first book because I would not have been able to keep up with that pace at all- oh the creepiness. There were definite moments in this book where I was creeped out and had to take a break, but not nearly as many.

Now for my non-review- I think the reason I like books like this that are mysterious and adventurous, is because I don't like mysteries, surprises or adventures. I would never be able to go off into an unknown land for an unknown adventure/investigation without being terrified every 5 seconds. I'm a scaredy cat through and through and would rather stay someplace safe, like inside my home with my wine and cats. But that being said I understand how being get wrapped up in a mystery or have to figure things out where there are unknowns because you just have to know sometimes!

I'll pick up the 3rd one in August and see how all this ties together.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: Night Film

Night Film
Night Film by Marisha Pessl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Very interesting. I wasn't too terribly impressed by it at first. But it was always intriguing. Then the last 100 pages, good grief it picked up, finally got scary and then ended nicely. What an interesting book. I wasn't too highly impressed with the pictures, fake FB posts, fake articles that were interspersed, but luckily there weren't very many of them.

Brief synopsis (I suck at this part) a famous horror film director's daughter is found dead of an apparent suicide. An old journalist sets out to find out why and encounters a drug dealer and waif to help him on his way. The more the delve into the daughter's life and the life of the director the weirder things get. Their lives are frequently in danger and the mystery is one that may kill them or at the very least severely injure them.

There's a lot going on here, traditional mystery, psychological thriller, dark magic and stuff. It was a really enjoyable ride though, except for those 45ish pages that I had to read so fast because they freaked me out a lot...but I really liked it. This is a book I wanted the hard copy of because of the pictures and extra stuff, but after reading the hard copy of it I think I would have been fine with the e-book version, which is kinda sad. But the hardback version is lovely.

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