Saturday, January 23

lately in entertainment.

lately in entertainment - winter 2016


The Mermaid's Sister - This book was charming in a way that reminded me of being read to as a child, and if the main character was a squirrel living in a dollhouse or the main character had a pet alligator I didn't question those things. It's a whimsical fantasy set in America in the 1800's (I think) and very different from the action-packed, dark paranormal romances that are so popular right now - it reminded me of Alice Hoffman's writing. The main character, innocent sixteen-year-old Clara, was dropped at her Auntie's mountain cottage by a stork, or so Auntie says. Her beautiful sister Maren, according to the stories Auntie tells, arrived in a seashell. Auntie just so happens to be a hedge witch with a pet wyvern. Though the family keeps to themselves to avoid freaking out the locals, they eagerly await visits from Scarff, an old trader with a wagon full of wonderful things, and his adopted son O'Neill, suddenly grown-up and handsome. Their cozy, offbeat lives are interrupted when Maren starts to become a mermaid - first, scales appear on her skin, then her legs begin to fuse into fins, and finally, she begins to shrink. Worried that she will die without the sea, Clara and O'Neill set out with Maren in a washtub. Along the way, they become tangled up with a traveling circus sideshow, its owners intent on keeping Maren as a star attraction, and Clara and O'Neill must outwit their captors. All the while, Clara struggles with her newfound feelings for O'Neill and her anxiety that she herself will someday become a stork and fly away.

Winter - I'd been waiting anxiously for the last book in the Lunar Chronicles series - Marissa Meyer had left us with so many cliffhangers in the third book, Cress, and added layers to the story in the prequel, Fairest. I've loved the way she weaves together the little details from each of the classic fairy tales - even the ones I'd forgotten since childhood - in a science fiction setting. I can't say much about the plot of Winter without giving away spoilers for the rest of the series. At the end of Cress, one character had been taken prisoner, another blinded, and Cinder had just added kidnapping to her list of crimes. This book's new character, Princess Winter, is Meyer's space-opera version of Snow White. She is beautiful, kind, scarred, and quite possibly insane - a side effect of her constant effort to suppress her inherited Lunar gift, mind control. Together, the characters must work to lead an uprising and defeat their common enemy, the evil Lunar Queen Levana. This book was filled with action, crazy plans that almost always went awry, Meyer's cheeky, Whedonesque humor, and enough romance to keep every ship afloat (Cress and Thorne 4EVA, y'all). There were a few times when I thought the book was almost over and then got surprised by how many pages were left (824 total)! I have loved this series, I'm very excited that it's been optioned for film, and I can't wait to see what Marissa Meyer does next.

Throne of Glass - I didn't fall into a funk after reading Winter because I quickly found a new YA series to obsess over, and I've been recommending it to all my fellow adult YA and fantasy lovers! I'd read about the Throne of Glass series on a few blogs and had actually had the first book sitting on my Kindle for a while, but hadn't been able to get into it. I finally pushed myself to get past the first few chapters, and I'm so glad I did! Here's the story: the main character, Celaena Sardothien, has been serving a brutal sentence in a salt mine when she is summoned by the captain of the king's guard and taken to the royal court. Formerly the most infamous assassin in the kingdom, Calaena has been chosen by the prince to compete in a contest the king is holding to choose a new Champion. By accepting, Calaena agrees to serve the king whose armies destroyed her people's homeland and way of life by outlawing magic - in exchange for her eventual freedom. Though she's been hardened by her years as a killer and abuse in the mines, Calaena begins to open up to Crown Prince Dorian, the captain of the guard who becomes her trainer and coach, and the mysterious foreign princess who has come to stay at court despite the tenuous balance between her country's freedom and the king's goal of complete domination.She also discovers that while magic may be illegal, it definitely isn't extinct. As
her opponents begin to fall victim to mysterious murders, Celaena and her newfound allies have to act quickly to investigate what evil is at work within the glass castle. I feel like Stefon from SNL when I tell people about Throne of Glass - "This series has everything: action, a sassy and intelligent heroine, PUPPIES, a playboy prince, romance, a brooding warrior, SHOPPING, fancy dress balls, swords, a library, magic, ghosts, and a secret passage!" 


Mockingjay Part 2 - My coworker Shannon and I stuck with our tradition of going to see the Hunger Games movies together after school. The movie does a great job of capturing the truly post-apocalyptic feel of the novel as Katniss, Gale, Peeta and their team make their way through the devastated Capitol to find and kill President Snow. The special and practical effects were great - one of the quirkiest characters from the book, Tigress, came to life perfectly on screen, and the Capitol's monsters were like something from a horror movie. Even though I knew the ending, the movie was full of suspense and included all of my favorite moments from the book.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - I'm planning on seeing The Force Awakens again in IMAX, and I want to write a more detailed review/analysis after that. As a Star Wars fan since childhood, I was on the edge of my seat from the moment the Lucasfilm logo appeared on the screen, and got chillbumps when the yellow text finished scrolling and the camera dropped through space. A lot of critics have debated whether The Force Awakens is too similar to A New Hope in plot and pacing, but I thought the resonance made the story powerful, and I look forward to seeing Rey, Finn, and Poe continue their journey as the new heroes of the Star Wars universe.

Trainwreck - Finally got to see this total gem of a comedy. LeBron James cracked me up in every scene that he was in, and I was surprised by how actually sweet and real the relationship between Amy Schumer and Bill Hader was - I expected a raunchy comedy, but this one really did have a heart. Plus, no one told me John Cena played Amy's original boyfriend - you guys are all jerks.

Winter's Tale - This one had been lingering on our DVR for a while - I'd thought the trailers looked cool, but hadn't really been in the mood for Colin Farrell riding a pegasus through Victorian-era New York. I'm a sucker for the Victorian era and for magic, so I was quickly drawn in to the story of Farrell's character, a foundling on the run from a gang run by an actual demon played by Russel Crowe, falling in love with a spunky, privileged rich girl (think Rose from Titanic) who is dying of consumption after he tries to rob her house. The story takes a lot of strange turns, some of them kind of delightful (Will Smith plays Lucifer in a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt) and some of them just plain weird (Farrell's character's true love's father finally accepts him because he kept their house's boiler from exploding). While Winter's Tale has many gorgeous scenes and Farrell and Crowe play their characters well, the worldbuilding didn't seem quite solid enough for me to get on board.  I think I want to read the book this one is based on to see if it fills in the obvious gaps in the movie's plot.

What are you loving lately? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

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