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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 November
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Books Read:
1. The Walking Dead: The Heart's Desire, by Robert Kirkman
2. The Walking Dead: The Best Defense, by Robert Kirkman
3. The Walking Dead: This Sorrowful Life, by Robert Kirkman
4. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
5. Fables: War and Pieces, by Bill Willingham
6. Fables: The Dark Ages, by Bill Willingham
7. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, by Brian Lee O'Malley
8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, by Brian Lee O'Malley
9. Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, by Brian Lee O'Malley
10. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom, by Margarita Engle
11. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
12. The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende
13. Under the Volcano (audio book), by Malcolm Lowry


1. The Walking Dead: The Heart's Desire, by Robert Kirkman
2.. The Walking Dead: The Best Defense, by Robert Kirkman
3.. The Walking Dead: This Sorrowful Life, by Robert Kirkman

Rick and fellow survivors find refuge behind prison fences and begin the process of starting their lives anew in a zombie infested world. However, they will have to face a new human threat that is far more deadly than the zombies surrounding them.

This graphic novel series is continually well written and drawn. The story centers around the people with the undead, though a constant threat, as more a part of the background setting. I'm looking forward to continuing with the series.


4. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next is a SpecOps 27 agent, who unexpectedly finds herself on the hunt for Acheron Hades, the world's third most dangerous villian. When a stakeout with SpecOps 5, who purpose is secret and shady, goes terribly wrong, Thursday gets blamed for the mishap and is told to back off. Instead she decides to go after him herself.

The world in which Thursday lives is a delightful cornucopia of oddities, including time travel (her father has a face that can stop a clock), genetically cloned dodos as pets, a 130-year war in the Crimea, the forces of darkness, literary terrorists, and book worms that can actually take you inside a book.

The Eyre Affair is just damn fun. Hades is a righteously badass villain, totally in love with the idea of being evil, and Thursday is just strong and smart enough to stand up to him. I would definitely recommend this book, and I look forward to continuing on with the series.


5. Fables: War and Pieces, by Bill Willingham
6. Fables: The Dark Ages, by Bill Willingham

In this series, the Fables, people, beings, and creatures that we know from storybooks and fairytales, have made a home in our world, after escaping persecution and death when they fled from their homelands.

In Volume 11 and 12, the final battle with the adversary is fought and won. But the conseuence of this victory is the resurection of a deep, darker danger that could destroy Fabletown and the Fables.

Very good books, as we see one story arc come to end and and another open. I'm very curious to see where the story goes from here.


7. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, by Brian Lee O'Malley
8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, by Brian Lee O'Malley
9. Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, by Brian Lee O'Malley

Scott Pilgrim is a basist in a garage band, shares and apartment (and bed) with his gay roommate, and is dating a high school girl. Everything seems to be going fine in his underachieving life until he started having strange dreams of a girl on roller blades. Things get really weird when he meets this girl, named Ramona, and starts dating her. Things get even weirder when the League of Ramona's Evil Ex-Boyfriends begins to show up one-by-one to challenge Scott to epic battles if he wants to keep dating her.

The Scott Pilgrim books are chock full of awesome. Scott is a clueless, adorable, and endearing jerk. Ramona is no nonsense and very mysterious. And all the friends are equally quirky and fun.

The books don't refer to pop culture as much as they live in a pop culture reality. The storyline plays out like a video game with each evil exboyfriend representing a boss fight, and the characters sometimes make self referential comments about this being a book. No one ever seems bothered that a guy might gain super telekinesis powers by becoming a vegan or any of the other odd things that happen as Scott stumbles through his life and from one epic battle to the next. This series is totally fun.

I'm definitely going to have to watch the movie now.


10. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom, by Margarita Engle
A historical novel in poems, this book follows the Cuba's three wars for independence in the late 1800s. All peasants are rounded up into reconcentration camps to prevent them helping the anti-Spanish rebels. Meanwhile hidden in a cave in the forest, Rosa uses herbs and plants to heal those who come to her, whether they are former slaves, injured farmers, or Spanish soldiers. She cares not for color or station, if you come to her she will offer her healing.

This is a young adult book and the poems are simple and straight forward, so simple and straightforward that sometimes they read more like prose than poetry. But there is often beauty in these words, just as Rosa manages to look around her and still see beauty and hope in her war shredded Cuba.


11. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
After one three hour interview with a psychiatrist, 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen is hospitalized in 1967. It's a time when just being different and living outside societies preconceived notions can earn you the label of crazy. Susanna stays within the hospital for two years of her life and she describes her experience with crisp clarity.

My immediate notion after reading this book was to compare it to the movie, which has more drama and a more direct and straightforward story arc, but lacks the disjointed beauty of the book and Susanna's often slyly humorous observations. The memoir is compose of short vignettes, which introduce the various people she meets, and is interjected with original documents from her records, along with observations on insanity and the entire psychiatric system. It's really a beautiful book that not only looks at the nature of mind, but how insanity was (and perhaps is) determined as much by gender as by one's actual mental state.


12. The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende

Discussed elsewhere.


13. Under the Volcano (audio book), by Malcolm Lowry
Discussed elsewhere.

*

Movies Watched:
1. Megamind (2010)
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I (2010)
3. Tangled (2010)
4. The Golden Child (1986)
5. Leap Year (2010)
6. When in Rome (2010)
7. The Women (2008)
8. It's Complicated (2009)

(Movies #5-8, I did not actually see from the beginning. Each of them happened to be on while I was flipping channels with a friend, and we ended up watching them after they already started, so I have no idea how they actually begin.)


1. Megamind (2010)
Just like superman, Megamind's family puts him into a pod and sends him off into the universe just before the planet explodes. But on another planet nearby, another family has the same idea, sending their wee one off to safety as well. A rivalry is instantly born between the two and one grows up to become a superhero and the other a supervillain. It's a fairly predictable, but offbeat comedy and I found it rather fun.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I (2010)
I probably don't need to explain this one, as you're either into the series or not. This is at the top of my list of my favorite Harry Potter films. It was extremely well done with a good mixture of fear and isolation with a constant threat of danger and a few awesome fight scenes. It is very dark, and may not be good for younger children, but there's also some humor and lightness thrown in to keep it from being downer. Even with the shadows and darkness all about them, Harry, Ron, and Hermoine's friendship is strong. They rely on each other, and much of the hope comes from their ability to pull through and trust in each other. I'm now thoroughly excited about seeing Part II.

3. Tangled (2010)
A retelling of Rapunzel, whose hair now has the magical properties of healing, and whose "Prince" is a thief, who stumbles upon her tower while running from soldiers. The musical moments are decent, but not nearly as great as many of the classic Disney animations, neither is the storyline. But it's a very cute movie, and I would definitely see it again.

4. The Golden Child (1986)
This one doesn't really count as a new movie, because I've seen it before, though so long ago that I hadn't really remembered it. Eddie Murphy plays a man who finds lost children and finds himself on a quest to save the kidnapped Golden Child. The Golden Child turns out to be a special, magical child, who can heal dead butterflies and make coke cans dance. Evil forces want to corrupt him so that they can bring darkness to the world, and Murphy's character has to fight them. As purely himself, Eddie Murphy doesn't make any effort to bring depth to his character, and the storyline itself is rather silly. However, I think it's a fairly fun fantasy and action comedy.

5. Leap Year (2010)
A woman eagerly wants her boyfriend to propose to her. While he's on a business to Ireland, she learns of a custom that says a woman can propose to man if it's on a leap year. So she flies over the big blue ocean, and finds herself waylaid and delayed along her way to meet him... oh, and of course, she escorted by a very hot Irishman. Predictable romantic comedy, but watchable. Besides, I love Irish accents and that boy was really cute.

6. When in Rome (2010)
While attending her sister's wedding in Rome, a woman goes to a fountain known for granting wishes. She pulls out a series of coins (I'm not sure while, since I didn't see that part) and the magic of the fountain makes the four men who threw the coins fall madly in love with her. She ends up liking one back, but she's not sure if he likes her because it's real or because of the spell.

This is corny, corny, corny! It's not a terrible idea for a movie, but its was not pulled off well. However, I love Kristen Bell. I think she's just too cute, so I tolerated it for her.

7. The Women (2008)
Something about a group of girlfriends, a husband cheating, a job that's creating unethical decisions, and blah, blah, blah. I love that it's a movie populated almost entirely by women and that women are the focus, but can't we come up with something better? I mean, it's not outright terrible, but it's not memorable either. Perhaps a hair more real than Sex and the City, though I kind of feel that Sex and the City (fake and fantastical though it was) had more charm and humor than this.

8. It's Complicated (2009)

A woman ends up having an affair with her exhusband and chaos ensues. Charming, funny, and Meryl Streep is fabulous. In fact all the actors are pretty damn fabulous in this. I definitely want to see this one from the beginning.