Friday, November 8

my fall in entertainment

my life in entertainment - fall 2013
books i read

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (Adult Historical/Contemporary Fiction) - This book features two parallel stories: In 2002, Julia is a middle-aged American journalist married to a Frenchman and living in Paris, where they are rennovating her grandmother-in-law's apartment and raising a teenage daughter.  She is working on a story about a  1942 roundup of Jewish people by the French police, and finding that most Parisians don't want to talk about the role of the French in deporting their neighbors to concentration camps.  In 1942, Sarah is a young victim of the roundup who leaves her brother behind, thinking that their family will return before the end of the day.  When Julia discovers Sarah's story, she becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her, regardless of whether the story has a happy resolution.  Having studied the Holocaust for years, I am always interested in different perspectives and narratives, but I had trouble connecting with the characters in this book - for me, Sarah's story was so much more compelling than Julia's and I found myself wanting to skip Julia's chapters.  It's a book about flawed people, family secrets, and choices that ripple out to affect others.

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick (YA Realistic Fiction) - As I told my students, I believe that sometimes the universe brings a book to us at exactly the right time, and that was the case for me and this book.  I read it right around my father's birthday, when I was in a mopey mood, and it would seem like reading a book about cancer would have been a bad idea.  Instead, this book, about an average nerdy teenage boy, Steven, whose adorable 5-year-old brother is diagnosed with leukemia, was just what I needed.  The family in this book was very relateable - from a mother who makes herself busy to avoid thinking about her child's illness, to a father who becomes distant and withdrawn for the same reason.  Meanwhile, Steven avoids telling his classmates and teachers what's going on at home because he doesn't want to be treated differently, but when they finally find out, he is surprised by how much support he has.  I definitely recommend this book for readers of all ages.

Bystander by James Preller (MG Realistic Fiction) - I picked this title up at my school's book fair because teaching students to recognize and deal with bullying is a major part of being a middle school teacher.  In this book, the main character is drawn in by the cool, charismatic leader of the "in crowd," even though he can be cruel to others.  When he starts to question the bully's actions, he becomes the next target.  I was disappointed by this book because the plot was incredibly predictable and I think the bullying in the book was relatively tame - not really reflective of the trauma and alienation kids really deal with in these situations.

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (YA Science Fiction) - Another book fair purchase; I started flipping through the first few pages and couldn't stop reading because the premise was so unique.  In the universe of this book, each human body contains two souls at birth, and that was the case for Addie and Eva.  Parents name both souls, and the souls seem to take turns controlling the body, each personality emerging over time.  In normal children, the "dominant" soul eventually starts to control the body and rise to the surface more often, and the weaker soul fades away, eventually disappearing altogether.  It's illegal to be a "hybrid" - an adult with two souls - because having two personalities in one body could potentially be very dangerous.  Everyone assumes that Addie is normal - Eva, the recessive soul, should have quietly faded away before the onset of puberty - and even their parents don't know that Eva's still there beneath the surface.  When their secret comes out, they have to fight for Eva's survival.  The narration - often in third person plural, switching to first singular when Eva acts on her own - was so interesting, the crazy plot so crazy, that I had to keep reading. I look forward to finding out what happens next for the hybrids.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (YA Fantasy) - This novel took me a few chapters to get into - I was starting to worry that it might be the first Maggie Stiefvater book I didn't like.  The main character, Blue Sargent, has grown up in a house full of women with psychic abilities - and her mother, along with most of her aunts and cousins, has predicted that when she kisses her true love, he will die.  Blue has spent her life avoiding boys, especially the aloof, entitled, often cruel boys from the local private school.  But four of those boys are investigating a paranormal force in the town where Blue lives, and she gets drawn into their world little by little.  Some of the twists and turns are a little too predictable, but by the book's climax, I was tempted to sleep with the lights on.

television favorites

Sleepy Hollow - People look at me a little funny when I say this is my favorite show on TV right now, but it's the truth.  It's pretty much National Treasure meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I love it.  Once you can suspend your disbelief enough to accept that the Headless Horseman is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and that Ichabod Crane has been revived from the grave to prevent said Apocalypse from happening, and can give the creators a little leeway with history (I wanted to punch someone when they had the settlers of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island speaking Middle English, but somehow I could accept the Apocalypse?  Welcome to my brain).  The stars are fantastic, and every episode has at least one great fish-out-of-water moment with Ichabod adjusting to life in 2013, the most entertaining so far being his conversation with Yolanda the OnStar lady.

New Girl - Keep being awesome, New Girl.  One of the recurring themes this season seems to be Jess realizing she's dating a man-child and Nick remembering that Jess is the best thing that's ever happened to him and trying to grow up.  

The Mindy Project - The only couple I currently "ship" in a TV show is Mindy and Danny.  The art museum episode this season, where Danny's ex wife showed these crazy nude photos of him in an art gallery and Mindy invited her new boyfriend who was a newspaper arts columnist, was pure gold funny.

Two Broke Girls - Another show that is consistently funny this season.  I really enjoy Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs as Max and Caroline, and the writers come up with such ridiculous situations for them to be in!

Modern Family - pretty much the best writing on TV right now.  The episode where Cam and Mitchell were planning their wedding, Nathan Lane played their wedding planner, and the potential wedding literally included unicorns and rainbows, all while Lilly was being completely ignored, killed me.

Gold Rush: Alaska - When you're married, you end up watching weird shows your spouse likes and, over time, you start to like them too.  Ask Mr. Q how he feels about Too Cute on Animal Planet.  Anyway, I had no idea I'd get so involved with a reality show that doesn't feature any Kardashians or professional wrestlers.  A group of guys from Oregon trying to get a huge piece of equipment from Colorado to the Congo, a teenager striking out on his own in the Yukon, and a father and son determined to mine the spot they believe is a "glory hole" makes for surprisingly addictive television.

The Walking Dead - I wasn't really into the show last season, but this season is already better - more action, more drama, and more zombies.  I still hate Rick Grimes, though.  Team Carol.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't Sarah's Key one that stays with you though? It's been several years since I've read it now, and I still wind up flashing back to certain scenes in it. And while I don't know that I've heard of What's Left of Me before now, your review definitely has me intrigued.

    As for the TV my favorite shows tend to be reality shows, but you and my husband have very similar tastes. He's loving Sleepy Hollow and The Walking Dead. And crazy enough, if anyone in our house puts Too Cute on, it's always him!