lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
Brother to Dragons, Companion to OwlsBrother to Dragons, Companion to Owls by Jane Lindskold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a weird book. I liked it, some parts of it quite a bit, but it's a weird book. I think I started out with the wrong expectations; I'd just read a YA book, and the cover of this one looks like a YA novel. It's also told from the perspective of someone who believes her plastic dragons can talk to her, so initially I thought I was going to be reading a YA fantasy novel.

Pretty quickly, though, the book veers into adult territory; the protagonist Sarah is actually in her thirties, and there's a fair amount of sexual content, including mentions of child prostitution, although none of it is graphic or detailed, just alluded to.

This is set in some sort of possibly dystopic future, but we don't get a lot of details about the world because everything comes from Sarah's very limited POV. That's actually one of my favorite parts about the book--the way the author lets little details about the world slip through (everybody uses some kind of credit system, hovercars are a thing, etc) without really explaining anything.

Another part I really like is that Sarah can speak to inanimate objects. At the beginning of the story, the reader thinks she's hallucinating and then gradually comes to realize that she truly can hear her plastic dragons and other objects speak. I also like that Sarah falls in with a group of marginalized people who have banded together to protect each other and live together in what sounds to me like an abandoned chemical plant. Their society is based on the Jungle Book, and is very cool if also very disturbing in many ways.

So, pros: very cool world building, very interesting protagonist, very interesting plot.
Cons: mentions of child rape and child prostitution, consent issues, really bizarre (dated?) understanding of autism (the story begins with Sarah in an institution, and she's believed to be autistic because she was mute as a child and now can only communicate in quotations from stories that she's memorized)

Recommend with reservations.



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Summer Movies

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:15 am[personal profile] molly_may
molly_may: (It would of course have to look like an)
I've been going to the movies this summer!

Wonder Woman - Of course I saw this! It was really good. My biggest criticism is that the climactic battle at the end goes on for too long, to the point that I was getting bored with it, but everything up until then was great. Honestly, beyond whether I liked the movie or not, I'm just thrilled that a female-directed, female-led, superhero movie broke though in a huge way with audiences, critics, and at the box office.

The Beguiled - During the Civil War, wounded Union soldier Colin Farrell is taken in by the women and girls remaining at a Virginia boarding school, led by Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst. With a fox in the henhouse, trouble, naturally, ensues. This was very atmospheric and beautiful to look at, and the actors are all great. There's been some criticism leveled at the movie for nearly completely eliding over the existence of slavery, and I agree that it's a weird, off-putting, choice that makes the story feel completely disconnected from the reality of history. Having said that, I did like this movie while I was watching it, though I'm not sure it amounts to much in the end.

The Big Sick - The real-life love story of comedian/actor Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon, who meet after one of his stand-up shows and fall in love, but break up after Emily realizes that Kumail doesn't see a future for them because his devout Muslim Pakistani parents are trying to arrange a marriage for him and he's afraid they'll disown him if he admits to them that he's dating a white, non-Muslim woman. Shortly after they break up, Emily becomes very ill and ends up in a medically-induced coma, causing her parents, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, to come to town. This was really good, very funny and sweet. It does suffer from third-act sag, where a few minutes should have been trimmed off to make the movie tighter and sharper, but overall I really liked this one.

Baby Driver - Baby (Anson Elgort), is the genius getaway driver for crime boss Kevin Spacey. Baby just has to work on one more big score, then he'll be out of debt to Spacey and able to drive off into the sunset with his waitress girlfriend. Naturally, things go sideways and he ends up running for his life. First, it must be acknowledged that this is a terrible title, one that makes it sound like a kid's movie, like Boss Baby. I saw this because the reviews were nearly universally positive, making it sound like a fun, unique, action-comedy. And parts of this movie ARE a lot of fun; the car chases are staged almost like musicals, set to the music that Baby is constantly listening to through ever-present earbuds. But in the last third, everything devolves into a hyper-violent climax, and...meh. I can't get into all the reasons this movie fell apart for me without getting into spoiler territory, but I walked out feeling unsatisfied by the whole thing. However, on the plus side, it was both filmed in and set in Atlanta, and it was fun to see some familiar sights, including a chase through the Peachtree Center Mall, home of the food court everyone eats at during Dragon*Con.

Because I saw all these movies, I also saw a lot of movie trailers recently:

Atomic Blonde - Charlize Theron kicks people in the face. Looks good!

Pitch Perfect 3 - Answering all the questions left by Pitch Perfects 1 & 2.

Home Again - Reese Witherspoon plays a 40 year old divorced mother, who, on the night of her birthday, picks up a young twentysomething guy for a one-night stand. Somehow, he and his two friends end up living with her and her kids? Then her ex-husband reappears, wanting his family back. Without seeing this movie, I am going to predict that it will end with Reese and her ex reuniting, which is the most boring and predictable way that it could end.

Thor: Ragnorak - I've seen this trailer several times now, and doubt that I'll see the movie until it hits Netflix, but I have to admit, I laugh every time when Thor sees the Hulk and says "We know each other from work!"

Flatliners - Apparently, the world needed a remake of this 1990 Julia Roberts/Keifer Sutherland thriller. I've seen the original a couple of times and remember absolutely nothing about it.

American Assassin - I watched two seasons of Teen Wolf, and I absolutely did not recognize Dylan O'Brien (Stiles) as the actor playing the main character in this trailer. The plot of this movie hinges on the death of O'Brien's girlfriend.

The Foreigner - Jackie Chan seeks vengeance on Pierce Brosnan. The plot of this movie hinges on the death of Chan's daughter.

The Dark Tower - Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in this adaptation of the Stephen King novel. No women speak in this trailer.

IT - Also based on a Stephen King novel. You know, the one with the clown. I don't remember any women or girls speaking in this trailer, but Beverly has to be there, right? Either way, I'm not going to watch it again to find out.

The Kingsmen 2 - Sequel to the movie from a few years ago about British spies. No women speak in this trailer (though, to be fair, music plays over most of the trailer).

Dunkirk - WW2 war movie. No women speak in this trailer (though, to be fair again, it's mostly battle scenes and there probably were not many, if any, women present at the Battle of Dunkirk).

Daddy's Home 2 - The ace comedy team of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reteam for more dad-based hijinks, this time with their own fathers, played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, who we're apparently allowing to be a movie star again. There is a little girl with a short line of dialogue in this trailer. The only other woman who says anything is a a mother who says "No, no, no," when Gibson starts to tell the kids a joke that starts out "Two dead hookers washed up on a shore." So, Gibson doesn't just get to star in movies again, he also gets to tell violently misogynistic jokes in them. Cool. Cool. Cool.

So You Want to Be a Wizard

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:18 am[personal profile] lunabee34
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
So You Want to Be a Wizard (Young Wizards, #1)So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was wonderful! It's YA, and on the younger side of YA, but such a fun read. It follows Nita and Kit who both find books about becoming wizards and choose to take the oath. They meet a white hole and senior level wizards and become responsible for the fate of the whole universe along the way.

The magic is really cool here--based on the Speech, on knowing something truly by saying it truly. It also features sentient trees and mechanical objects and some really cool magic involving time.

I don't want to spoil the ending, so I won't say what happens to make me cry, but I was surprised how moved I was by the ending. Full on sniffling. :)

Definitely recommend this one; I think it's the start of a series as well.



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Ethan Frome

Jul. 19th, 2017 02:20 pm[personal profile] lunabee34
lunabee34: (Default)
Ethan FromeEthan Frome by Edith Wharton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I last read this book in 8th grade about 26 years ago. I remembered liking it and the general plot but not much else. Recently, a bunch of people on FFA were talking about how much they hated the book, so I thought I'd revisit it and see if my opinion had changed.

I still like it. :) I am a huge sucker for stories in which much of the narrative is ambiguous or imagined or a deliberate fantasy (see the Haunting of Hill House, which also shares a climax with this novel, or "The Last Man" episode of SGA). We don't actually know if the backstory the narrator of Ethan Frome has invented is true; he imagines the bulk of the story in the second before he crosses the threshold to Ethan's home. Conversations he has with Ethan and with other townspeople corroborate parts of his fantasy, but our unnamed narrator could be misreading the clues as badly as Lockwood does in the beginning of Wuthering Heights (although probably not; there's no textual evidence he's doing so).

The language here is so beautiful. It isn't spare though the scenes Wharton describes are often spare and stark. Here's an example: "A mournful peace hung on the fields, as though they felt the relaxing grasp of the cold and stretched themselves in their long winter sleep."

Overall, an enjoyable and quick read. If you're looking for a happy ending, this is not the novella for you. Everyone in this story is trapped and has very few choices if they have any at all. Poverty is a vise around Ethan and Mattie and Zeena that they can't dislodge. It's beautifully written, though, and a good look at the shape despair sometimes takes.



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lunabee34: (btvs: buffy gun by eyeconic)
Let's do a silly meme.

Tell me about the episode (or book chapter) that never appeared in one of your fandoms but should have.

Here's mine.

Buffy: I always wished that Buffy's dad had showed up again after Joyce's death. I found his complete disregard of his children horrific, and while I didn't want him to be redeemed at all, I wanted him to show up at least once again so Buffy could tell him off for abandoning her.

Firefly: I would have liked a trip home for one of the crew, maybe to meet Kaylee's parents or Jayne's siblings or Mal's extensive network of female cousins.

Star Trek TNG: I really wanted more episodes with Beverly and Deanna being besties. I would have especially loved an episode where they were trapped on a planet and in survival mode or spent the episode with only each other to rely on.

What about you?
lunabee34: (got: sansa by bluelantern)
Man, I love this show. Last season was so strong, especially the finale, and this opener promises another really strong season.

SPOILERS )

Reading

Jul. 18th, 2017 07:07 am[personal profile] lunabee34
lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
The Liberation (The Alchemy Wars, #3)The Liberation by Ian Tregillis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is the best of the series. So many times, an otherwise excellent series ends on a faltering note; endings are really, really hard, and making the final installment worthy of what comes before is a difficult task. Tregillis hits it out of the park.

Many, many aspects of the situation are left unresolved. Years, decades, maybe even centuries of work are left to be done to figure out how the three empires will coexist, share or withhold resources and territory, and police themselves.

But the character arcs are resolved quite satisfactorily. I do not want to spoil even a mote of this wonderful conclusion, so I will just urge you all to read it. If you like artificial intelligence, steampunk, female characters (strong, flawed, stubborn, sometimes bordering on evil), tight plotting, and beautiful language, then this is the series for you!



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The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Revolutionary Techniques. Groundbreaking RecipesThe How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Revolutionary Techniques. Groundbreaking Recipes by America's Test Kitchen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is an excellent cookbook--meticulously researched with a great introductory chapter that explains what gluten is and how it functions in the foods we eat as well as going through all the different types of gf flours and grains. There are even some product reviews like in the magazine (best already-made sandwich bread, etc.).

I like that this isn't just about desserts. Baked goods get more than half the cookbook and rightly so, but there's all sorts of savory dishes and salads with grains that look amazing.

This would be an excellent addition to the kitchen shelf for anyone who's eating gf.



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(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 02:03 pm[personal profile] turnonmyheels
turnonmyheels: (Default)
Yesterday, I *knew* that today would be an awesome, amazing, kick-ass day that would start with me jumping out of bed and going at it for all I am worth.

I woke up with an IBS attack. So I start my day at 9 instead of 6, but I did spin after all the explosions stop, half-way prettied myself up, and arrived at work at 10:30 instead of 7:45.

So I want credit for doing the things even though things didn't go as planned. I want like, ALL THE CREDIT.

Tomorrow I want to get up at 6, NOT have an IBS attack, go at it for all I'm worth and have the day I wanted to have today.

Meanwhile, I have a hair appointment this afternoon

Book 2: The Alchemy Wars

Jul. 17th, 2017 12:09 pm[personal profile] lunabee34
lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
The Rising (The Alchemy Wars, #2)The Rising by Ian Tregillis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This series is so good. Tregillis's writing is beautiful; his descriptions of the natural world are a delight to read.

Without giving too much away, this middle installment sees the hopes of both Jax and Berenice fundamentally altered. Jax in particular discovers that sometimes a myth is just that.

I especially enjoyed the sections from Longchamp's POV. His stoicism and crudity and perseverance make him such a interesting and colorful character.

I am very interested to see what happens in the concluding book. I hope all my favorite characters make it to the end, but I suspect that's a naive hope.



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RIP George Romero

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:41 pm[personal profile] beer_good_foamy
beer_good_foamy: (Default)
Few film directors can claim immortality; George A Romero redefined the very idea of what life and death mean. And he did it with humour, heart, and plenty of gore. There are few movies I've watched as often as the original Dead trilogy, and every single filmmaker or tv producer who ever did anything involving zombies owe him their allegiance.

Thank you, George, for everything.

Spiderman plus Downton Abbey

Jul. 15th, 2017 10:32 am[personal profile] lunabee34
lunabee34: (avengers: cpn america by youcallitwinter)
Emma and I went to see Spiderman: Homecoming a couple days ago and loved it. SPOILERS )


We are also continuing to watch Downton Abbey. Y'all, I love this show, truly, but I am getting a bit fed up with some of the plot lines. Please don't spoil me for future episodes.

SPOILERS )

I don't think we're that far from the end; we're about halfway through this season, and then I think there's just one more.

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