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Joyful Girl

Andrea Blythe's blog about writing, reading, and everything else


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Books Read & Movies Watched in July
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BOOKS READ
1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
2. Inkdeath, by Cornelia Funke
3. FEED, by Mira Grant
4. Feed, by M.T. Anderson
5. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
6. The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti, by Marilene Phipps-Kettlewell
7. Gothic and Lolita Bible (v. 3)

REVIEWS:
1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is a delightful little fable about a little prince, who lives on a planet no bigger than a house, upon which grows a very proud flower. The Little Prince leaves his little planet and meets all sorts of characters who teach him all sorts of things (mostly that grown ups are rather silly).

I've heard lots of people raving about how wonderful this book is, and I'm pleased to say they're right. I would read it again and again and read it to my children, as well. And, I hope I always am able to see an elephant in a snakes belly.


2. Inkdeath, by Cornelia Funke
Discussed elsewhere.


3. FEED, by Mira Grant
Twenty years after the Rising, zombies have become a matter of fact. The danger exists in every facet of life, but is carefully managed by constant, government controlled quarantine and sterilization procedures.

Georgia and Shaun Mason are two bloggers who go out into restricted areas to poke at zombies and get the news, which they bring back to their blogs. They seek the truth, as well as to increase the ranking of their blogging network. They soon have ample opportunity for both when they are assigned to follow the presidential campaign of an idealistic Senator. They also find a dangerous conspiracy, and figuring out the truth may just get them killed.

While I thoroughly enjoy just a good old classic zombie story, I love it when an author presents a unique perspective on the genre. Mirra Grant (a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire) presents richly detailed world building with an emphasis on accurate virology that most writers ignore. The political atmosphere is thick with intrigue and secrecy and denials, and Georgia and Shaun have to wade their way through it to the truth.

The main focus of FEED is the dangerous political mystery and espionage that the Masons uncover, but there is enough violence and gore and zombie survival to keep most zombie lovers happy. Between the tension of the conspiracy and the horror of zombies (of many species) tearing apart the living, FEED kept my heart pumping and my interest high. A really great, great book.


4. Feed, by M.T. Anderson
In the future, just about everyone is plugged into the Feed with a complex computer chip implanted into their brain. Mega corporations control the feed and the system, spewing a constant stream of commercials, tv shows, and music into the users mind, aimed at enhancing the their entertainment and shopping experiences.

Titus is comfortable in the feed, until he meets Violet, a girl who makes a plan to resist the influence of the feed, who wants to think about the what's going on in the world, and where all these products actually come from.

Feed is both a satire and a dystopia. It is a satire in the sense that it mocks its easy spending money to make up for emotional gaps, a concept especially rampant in the U.S. In many ways, it openly funny. It is a dystopia, because there is nothing appealing about this world in which the entire populace is placated with purchasing power. In fact, it's quite tragic. And while not openly hostile, the corporations might just abandon you, which is just a slower form of destruction. There is a threat, but it's not evident when you are wrapped up in the play and pleasure of the feed. And like most dystopias, what little hope there is does not exist for humanity as a whole (the system being too large, to powerful to topple), but instead that hope lies in individuals -- in their own power to resist in what small ways they can, and to find freedom within their own hearts.

Enjoyable as this was to read, a large part of what makes Feed great is the way in which it made me question my assumptions about the world in which I live.


5. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Discussed elsewhere.


6. The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti, by Marilene Phipps-Kettlewell
The pieces in this collection are more portraits than stories, each one presenting days, weeks, or years in the life of someone in Haiti, from a woman trying to survive a refugee boat ride to the U.S. to magic makers to to a chapel observing its inhabitants.

While the writing is lovingly descriptive, I did not really become absorbed by these stories. Some even bored me slightly. However, I did really enjoy a few stories, such as: "Dogs" about a woman who fills her house with stray dogs, because they are more honest creatures than most of humanity; "Grande Jesula Gets a Visit" about Jesula, a Mother of Spirits, full a snarky attitude and wild joy; and "At the Gate" in which a man sets up a make shift school in front of an insane asylum and sees philosophers and teachers in all the people around him. In fact, I would say that those three stories are fantastic, and worth reading again.

Everything else in the book didn't quite grab me the same way; they weren't bad, just not interesting to me.


7. Gothic and Lolita Bible (v. 3)
Volume three of this mook (a cross between a magazine and a book) offers up more gothic and lolita culture, from how to make cute dresses to interviews with designers and bands. I read this one just for the shear fun of it, and that's exactly what I got. :)



MOVIES WATCHED

1. The Brave One (2007)
2. Despicable Me (2010)
3. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
4. Ergo Proxy, episodes 9-12 (2006)
5. Bleach, episodes 17-18 (2004)
6. The Crazies (2010)
7. The Sorcerer's Aprentice (2010)
8. Inception (2010)
9. The Informant (2009)
10. A Single Man (2009)
11. Bluebeard (2009)


REVIEWS:
1. The Brave One (2007)
Jodi Foster plays a woman who, along with her fiancee, is attacked in Central Park. After waking up from a comma to find out her fiancee was killed, she begins to seek revenge against the killers. It's a well done revenge movie and her growing friendship with a police officer (who also feels lonely and lost) is believable and natural.

2. Despicable Me (2010)
Gru, a super villain, meets a rival who continues to one up him. As a part of a clever plan to sneak into the other's lair, Gru adopts three girls, not expecting to grow attached to them. I loved this movie. It was both funny and sweet, and I really, really want my own army of little yellow minions. :)

3. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
Exactly what it says: a mysterious time machine sends four buddies back into time to the eighties, where they get to replay life as their younger selves. It's funny, but superficial throughout, which is fine. It serves its purpose as yuk-yuk entertainment. Not something I would reach for to watch again, though.

4. Ergo Proxy, episodes 9-12 (English dubbed from Japanese, 2006)
Previous episodes mentioned here. A little more is revealed about the Proxy. We now know more or less what the proxy is, but it's not 100% clear what its point is yet. Our heroes are united, and it continues to be interesting.

5. Bleach, episodes 17-18 (English dubbed from Japanese, 2004)
Previous episodes mentioned here. It more of the same -- fighting hollows, zany comedy, and Ichigo still trying to control and find news depth to his powers -- and it's still entertaining, so I'll keep watching.

6. The Crazies (2010)
Some substance leaks into the water and turns almost the entire populations of a small rural town into homicidal maniacs. It was... okay. Some genuinely tense scenes, plenty of blood, interesting survival techniques, but I didn't really care much about any of the characters and the overall effect ended up being kind of bland.

7. The Sorcerer's Aprentice (2010)
A young physics geek finds out he's destined to be a great and powerful sorcerer and is trained by a slightly mad magician, while battling the forces of darkness. It was a really, light weight, fun fantasy movie. Perfect for summer enjoyment.

8. Inception (2010)
It's about dreams and perception and reality. I don't really want to go into details for risk of ruining it. But basically Inception hit all the right notes, and is by far and above my favorite movie of the year. I will probably go see it again in the theater, and I do not often say that about a movie.

9. The Informant (2009)
Matt Damon plays a real-life executive who decides to inform on the criminal activity of his company, but ends up having secrets of his own. I really wanted to like this movie. The acting was great, the filming interesting, and there was tension, but it ended up being slightly boring. I was both fascinated and disturbed by this person, as was the rest of my family. However, everyone was restless watching it. It just didn't hold anyone's interest beyond the first 40 minutesl.

10. A Single Man (2009)
A man wrestles with depression after the death of his lover. Beautifully filmed and superb acting. This was an exceptionally well made film, and even though I did feel a little cheated by the ending, I would watch it again because it was beautiful. I also think it's one of those that you will get something different from it each time you view it. So I highly recommend it.

11. Bluebeard (French, 2009)
There are two interwoven stories. One set in the '50s involves two girls reading the fairy tale of Bluebeard to each other. The other is follows the fairytale. This was another beautifully filmed movie, well scripted with wonderful actors and interesting characters. Funny in some parts and tragically sad in others. I don't quite see how it's a feminist retelling, as the trailer said, but its a fabulous version of it.

My favorite line in the movie is when one of the little girls from the '50s says, "Marriage is when two people fall in love ... and become homosexuals!" I laughed so hard. She was an awesome character.