Catching Up With…

16 Nov

I’m nearing completion of this challenge and have been feeling the urge just to power few the remaining books and movies just to call it done.  But then I picked up Blankets.  I had read Habibi a few weeks previous and enjoyed it, but Blankets just blew me away.  Now I can’t wait until it’s over so I can go back and savor Blankets.

41.  Blankets – Craig Thompson

42.  The Elephant Vanishes – Haruki Murakami

43.  Old Man’s War – John Scalzi

44.  The Magicians – Lev Grossman

45.  The Lost Girl – Sangu Mandanna

46.  The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

47.  Dracula – Bram Stoker

48.  The Dispossessed – Ursula K. LeGuin

49.  Pines – Blake Crouch

50.  The Yiddish Policemen’s Union  – Michael  Chabon


39.  300

40.  Moon

41.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

42.  Opposite Day

43.  Chilly Dogs

44.  Source Code

45.  The Shipping News

46.  Pi

47.  School of Rock

48.  The Magic of Belle Island

49.  A Night at the Museum

50.  A Cat in Paris

51.  Beasts of the Southern Wild

52.  Wreck-It Ralph


Moving Along

14 Aug


28.  Emperor Mollusk Vs. the Sinister Brain – A. Martinez

29.  Dumpling Days – Grace Lin

30.  Leonardo Da Vinci for Kids

31.  Darwin and Evolution for Kids

32.  Thomas Edison for Kids

33.  Snuff – Terry Pratchett

34.  Your Asthma-Free Child – Dr. Richard Firshein

35.  So You Think You’re a Wizard – Diane Duane

36.  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente

37.  Habibi – Craig Thompson

38.  Turtle in Paradise – Jennifer L. Holm

39.  Peter and the Shadow Thieves – Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

40.  Legacy – Joanne Poyourow


24.  The Avengers

25.  Moonrise Kingdom

26.  Bottle Rocket

27.  Iron Man 2

28.  Brave

29.  Eragon

30.  Inception

31.  The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

32.  Time Bandits

33.  A Series of Unfortunate Events

34.  21 Jump St.

35.  Bad Teacher

36.  Thor

37.  It Might Get Loud

38.  The Dark Knight Rises

At the Midpoint

19 Jun


21.  Fledgling – Octavia Butler

22.  Royal Assassin – Robin Hobb

23.  The Postmortal  – Drew Magary

24.  The Lifecycle of Software Objects – Ted Chiang

25.  We -Yevgeny Zamyatin

26.  Assassin’s Quest – Robin Hobb

27.  The Finder Library Volume 1 – Carla Speed McNeil


18.  Pink Panther

19.  Persepolis

20.  Prince Caspian

21.  Moneyball

22.  Madagascar 3

23.  Dark Shadows

Too Much Is Sometimes Enough

16 Apr

Ugh!  I just can’t keep up with this blog!  I’m not even sure I’ve listed all of the books I’ve read.  Hmmm.  I’m going to have to figure something out.



11.  Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman

12.  Knife Edge – Malorie Blackman

13.  Checkmate – Malorie Blackman

14.  Double Cross – Malorie Blackman

15. Airborn – Kenneth Oppel

16.  Skybreaker – Ken Oppel

17.  Starclimber – Kenneth Oppel

18.  Stories of Your Life and Others – Ted Chiang

19.  Camouflage – Joe Haldeman

20.  Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb


15.  Mirror Mirror

16.  The Last Airbender

17.  Temple Grandin

“Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost…”

25 Feb


I’m two months into this 50/50 Challenge and, surprisingly, the hardest part is keeping track of what I’ve read/watched and finding the time to blog about it.  I’m just going to run quickly through my list and hopefully I’ll be able to keep up better in the future.


3.  The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman – This was a gift and a slight and predictable read, but I may try some of the recipes from it.

4.  Life’s Little Miseries by Diane Lynch-Fraser – A nonfiction book about how to help your kids deal with the every day problems which arise.  There was nothing surprising in it, but it was a good reminder of how I’d like to parent all of the time.

5.  The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer – We listened to this audio book in the car and we loved it.  It takes place in a distant future Nigeria and takes you on an adventure that includes, robots, aliens and traditional tribal village life.  I particularly loved the invention of praise singing as a job and the negative and positive benefits of praise.

6.  A Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine – A fictional work about life during the Cultural Revolution told through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl.  It wasn’t complex, befitting the experience of the narrator, but an interesting perspective.

7. Ganymede by Cherie Priest – We read this for book club.  It was third in a series which I happen to have read the first book.  I didn’t like it as well as the first, but part of that was trying to fill in the blanks I felt missing from the second book.  I definitely love the steam punk feel of her world and she writes great characters, but I’m still not sure I’m compelled enough to read the middle book.  Maybe when I’ve run through my current stack.

8.  Agatha H. and the Airship by Phil and Kaja Foglio – This was also a gift book.  I loved the world, but it was a little disappointed with the old trope of the busty heroine forced to squeeze into a tight leather outfit.

9.  The Jewel of Kalderash by Marie Rutkoski  – The is the 3rd (and final book) of a trilogy and I loved all of them.  They’re well-written young adult fiction which is also vaguely steampunkish.

10.  Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde – Another book club read and a nice surprise.  This future society is based on a hierarchy of color.  It’s quite reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s Guide in terms of humor and style.


3.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch – I’ve actually seen this twice now and I might be a little obsessed.

4.  Captain America – I really wish I had seen this in the theater.  I enjoyed it, but I think I would have been more impressed with a big screen viewing.

5.  Pina – Writing about a Wim Wenders dance choreographer biopic is like cooking about architecture.  It was a beautiful, beautiful film.

6.  Crazy Stupid Love – Funnier than I expected!  There were a couple of times I laughed out loud.

7.  Ocean Waves – Part of a Studio Ghibli retrospective, a found this film unintentionally funny.  I’m not surprised it wasn’t released in the US.

8.  Only Yesterday – Another Studio Ghibli film rarely seen in the US, a liked this quite a bit despite it being a bit preachy about organic farming.  And I’m sold on organic farming.

9.  Easy A – I really wanted to laugh, but the script just fell flat.  Cute and well-acted, but missing that spark.

10.  Paul – I was mostly amused by this quirky, little comedy.  Hot Fuzz is still my favorite movie by these guys.

11.  The Big Year – Kelly really loves Steve Martin and wanted to see this.  It was pretty awful, but not the worst movie ever.

12.  Secret of Kells – I wanted to like this more than I did.  The animation is gorgeous, but I wanted more from the story.

13. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – We saw this with Jack because he might be working with the VFX supervisor of this movie in the future.  For a PG movie, I was quite pleased.  There was enough of an homage to Jules Verne to satisfy me.

14.  The Secret of Arrietty – The artistry of Ghibli didn’t let me down, but it’s not in my top 5 from them either.

Good Taste Is Not in the Mouth…

11 Jan

I’m barely a week into this challenge and it’s already painfully obvious how frustrating it’s going to be to watch 50 movies unless I want them all to be appropriate for children.  Movie number two was the delightful Eat Drink Man Woman which has been on my “to see” list since it was released 18 years ago.  Sadly, I ended up having to watch it on my laptop, in several viewings, with children interrupting me.  Having now seen it, I realize I could have let the kids watch it but I was wary of the fact it is unrated.

I am somewhat glad I waited so long to see it.  I’m sure I would have liked it a lot in 1994, but after living in Beijing for 9 months in 2008, I have a special fondness for all things Chinese.  I definitely noticed the differences in cultures, with it being set in Taiwan, but the cooking was purely classical Chinese.  Mmmm.  I hadn’t realize it was directed by Ang Lee.  I would have made a point of seeing it much sooner.  Of course, in 1994, I didn’t know anything about him.

I just finished book number two several minutes ago.  The author, Dan Simmons, was recommended by my friend Chad.  He didn’t specifically recommend Illium, but it was the most interesting sounding book by Simmons at the library the day I went.

It’s a strange book, which takes three separate story lines and intertwines them in one crazy sci fi mesh.  There’s a thread which follows a 21st century scholar of the Illiad who has been called forth to a distant future to observe and report to the Greek gods on deviations from the Illiad of a Trojan War which is taking place on Mars.  Whew, there was a lot packed into that sentence and there’s a lot packed into that plot line.  If you don’t love the Illiad, at least a little bit, this is not the book for you as there is lots of pointing out the fates of minor characters from the Illiad in drawn out, ancient Greek fashion.  There’s a thread concerning Earth which openly draws from The Time Machine.  The final thread concerns itself mainly with two partially-organic, sentient machines who are traveling from Jupiter, one being an expert on Proust and one an expert on Shakespeare.  I had my doubts about the necessity of these three story lines being crammed into one book, but it does come together nicely in the end.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone.  It might be a worthwhile read to those of you interested in any of those particular books or authors mentioned (particularly the Illiad) if you’re in the mood to be patient.  I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll read the sequel about the Odysessy.  I have a large stack of books I received for Christmas that I want to get to and I think it might be some time before I want to read something so fractured.  But I would read something by Dan Simmons again, so thanks, Chad.

Up next is Hedwig and the Angry Inch, suggested by Regan, and Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang from my Christmas pile.

A Juvenille Beginning

5 Jan

Who doesn’t love a crazy challenge?  So when my friend, Michael, posted a link to, a challenge to read 50 books and watch 50 films in the year 2012, I was knew I had to take part.

I imagine that for most people the bigger challenge would be reading 50 books.  For me, watching 50 films will probably be more difficult.  Before we had kids, Jack and I used to watch several movies a week in the theater.  We once watched five in a weekend.  It’s so much harder to get out to a movie now and for the past eleven years I’ve annually averaged less than a handful of films and mostly kids’ movies at that.

Why don’t we watch movies at home?  Once again, the kids factor heavily.  By the time they’re in bed, a movie seems like a big time commitment for the limited time we have alone together.  Also, there’s no guarantee that we won’t be interrupted several times during the first hour.  And that makes me seriously crabby.  Some people like the ability to pause a movie to get a snack, go to the bathroom or put kids back to bed, but not me.  We also both really like the atmosphere of a theater.  But if I’m going to watch 50 movies this year, I’m going to have to resign myself to watching a majority of them on a small screen.

I’m doing pretty well so far.  Though unsurprisingly my first book and film of the year were both aimed at kids.  I’m hoping it’s not an overwhelming trend, but I did quite enjoy the book at least.  Actually, it was an audio book of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  It’s a lovely mix of an ordinary girl’s life in the 70s entwined with  A Wrinkle in Time.   I adore Wrinkle and the author created an engaging little story which refers to it, but stands on its own.  If you like young adult fiction, I unequivocally recommend it.

My first movie of the year was The Adventures of Tintin.  I was already not a fan of the motion capture from the trailers, so I opted for the 3D version to give it a fair chance to wow me.  It did not.  It’s not often that I declare the pace of a movie too fast, but it just jumped too quickly from action scene to action scene for me to develop any attachment to the characters.  Or maybe it was just the motion capture, which I think evokes even less expression than traditional animation.  It wasn’t a bad movie, but it was certainly my least favorite of all the holiday family movies of the past couple of months and one I wish I hadn’t spent the money on.

I’ve got quite a backlog of books I want to read – hooray for Christmas presents!  I am, however, actively seeking movie suggestions.  I’m particularly interested in your favorites from the past decade as I’ve seen so few.  And hopefully, I’ll read or watch something this year that inspires you, too.