Newest Obsession

His Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This audio book set off a bit of a trend for me actually, a Cassandra Clare trend. After one really bad movie and one better, although not perfect, TV series, plus having read the book before there isn’t much to say other than, this book is great! I love it and I was happy to listen to it again.

Last movie I watched:

Pirates of the Caribbean. You know what? The first one was really fun. I really liked it.  Obviously they went down hill a little later, but they started off strong.

Last TV show I watched:

Friends.

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Slip into Batman

The New 52 Batman Superman Vol 2: Game Over by Greg Pak, Brett Booth and Jae Lee

I found myself without a book one day, so I picked this up.I really enjoyed it, it was very fun but looking back on it now, a few weeks later, it wasn’t very memorable.

The three major stories in this graphic novel are as follows: 1. A child genius inadvertently gains control of Batman and Superman through a computer game and has the beat the snot out of each other 2. Batman and Superman are both required to bring members of their family to Warworld to battle it out with each other in order to save the earth 3. Huntress and Powergirl come from a different reality to get help for Powergirl and other Kryptonians who’s powers are out of control.

While there were some really fun parts, particularly Batman/Superman banter and a few moments of interaction between their families, the story is mostly finagling situations for Bruce to hit Clark or vise versa. That’s what made it no memorable to me. I like character driven stories, not fist driven ones. Having said, I had a good time with this book.

Batman makes me happy.

Last movie I watched:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I gotta read the book.

Last TV show I watched:

Medici Masters of Florence. I’m on the first episode – show me what you got Netflixs and Rob Stark

Beauty after Tragedy

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Hermione Winter heads off to cheer leading camp before her grade twelve year sure that this will be her year. She and her best friend Polly are co-captains of their team, in a school that loves cheer leading. Her teams is the best it’s ever been. Her boyfriend’s on the team. Surely this will be her year. Until she’s drugged and raped by an unknown assailant at camp. Over the next year she looses friends and gains friends as she struggles to get through her own life but also to live free of the identity of a victim.

This book is powerful. Really, truly. The writing has a beautiful rawness to it, particularly painful to read when it relates to physical pain and sensation and flashback. I found it hard not to have a very real reaction myself (okay, so I cried at work through a few parts) just because of the stunning honesty of everything – the words, the sentences, the characters, the places.

The other things that brought me to tears was the wonderful people in Hermione’s life. From her best friend Polly, to her partners bewildered about how to help their child, the other adults in her life – her therapist, coach, guidance councilor, doctor, police – and her friends, people she’d always known and cared about but she’d never realized how they’d step up to protect her, they are all amazing. And of course, this is the most unrealistic element of the story because in real life, survivors of sexual violence often end up feeling isolated alone and betrayed by the people in their life. But here’s the thing about this book – at least for me it was impossible not to want to be that person who steps up for anyone who needs. Characters that good inspire goodness.

Just for the record, this is not a book about looking for the rapist. Of course some of the story is devoted to finding out who he was, to the police investigation and DNA and that kind of CSI stuff. But that’s not what it’s about, not at all.

There’s very little about this book that I didn’t love. Obviously there’s some pretty serious content, so I’d recommend chatting with any teens in your life who happen to be reading it if you’re uncomfortable with themes of sexual assault, abortion or trauma. But I would also recommend everyone reading it.

Last movie I watched:

I still think it’s the Karate Kid.

Last TV episode I watched:

The Musketeers! Apparently the king just kinda died. Weird.

Meta Fan Fiction

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Sometimes ago I read and loved (like really, really, really loved) Fangirl. So I decided to read Carry On which is not the sequel to Fangirl. In Fangirl, Cath is writing a piece of fanfiction for a series called Simon Snow. Carry On is not that piece of fanfiction. Nor is it the original Simon Snow story. It’s an original fanfiction for a fictional story. Even better, it’s a slash fiction.

So Simon (who starts out approximately as Harry Potter) is the prophesied savoir of a magical world that exists as part of ours. It’s his last year at Watford and the inevitable showdown between Simon, his friends and the Mage and the Insidious Humdrum. But what’s on his mind most of the time? How his relationship with his girlfriend Agatha doesn’t feel right and where on earth his archenemy/roommate Baz? But everything’s more complicated then anyone realizes.

This book is really hard to talk about without spoiling but here’s what I can say. You think at the start because the story is a little Harry Potter-esk that it will continue to be Harry Potter-esk and end with an epic showdown that is entertaining and a little cliched but you are wrong. I’m telling you the plot twists are pretty out of left field, which is awesome. The other great thing is the Baz and Simon relationship.  It’s so nice it is to see a same sex couple that aren’t there for tokenism but are actually well developed and interesting both as individuals in a relationship and the relationship itself.

I recommend it. Strongly.

And, yes, I checked, there is fanfiction for the fictional story made up for another fictional story’s fanfiction. It’s great.

Last movie I watched:

Still Karate Kid. I really liked it. Somehow I failed at being a child of the 80s. I’d never seen it.

Last TV episode I watched:

The Musketeers still. So fun.

Erased History and a Warning for Humanity

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Did you realize that Stalin committed genocide to the scale of millions of innocent people while the Second World War was happening? I didn’t. I mean, I knew he was generally considered to be a pretty bad dude, but he helped the Allies win the war so all’s forgiven right?

This is a piece of historical fiction based on the experiences of survivors of the mass deportations that occurred in Russia before, during and long after WWII. It’s the story of a Lina, a fifteen year old girl who is taken from her home one night, along with her mother and brother and deported to Siberia. What follows is a nightmare that lasted a decade for her. The book, which is a good 300 pages, only documents the first two years of her time in prison, although the epilogue confirms that she did survive another 10  more years in the camp before being freed.

It’s a devastating story. The human suffering described is heartbreaking. The human kindness and compassion from the prisoners, strangers and occasionally guards is just as heartbreaking. My library files it in the young adult section, certainly the subject matter is hard and there is some sexual violence in it, but I really think adults should read it as well, particularly if there are young people in your life who are reading it.

Given the current political climate, I think it’s really important for us to remember what happens that the “them versus us” mentality stripes us all of our humanity. When we fail to recognize the basic humanity in other people, we’ve lost sight of what it means to be human. And history will remember that, no matter who tries to suppress it.

Last movie I watched: Karate Kid.

That’s some serious bullying there guys. Serious.

Last TV show I watched:

The Musketeers. It’s just so much fun.

The other side of the Second World War

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielson

This is an amazing older children or young adult book about Berlin after the end of the Second World War. Now, previously my history on that subject is a little dicey. As I recall it went something like “And then the Allies won the war and divided up Berlin with a wall, which was eventually torn down but we’ll cover that later in the semester”. We didn’t.

Gerta’s Papa and brother cross the into West Berlin one night to see if there’s a job for Papa there, away from the censorship and depression of East Berlin. That night, the Soviets  put up a fence, cutting Gerta off from half her family. Slowly over the next few years it turns from a fence to a wall to a manned wall and an overbearing state presence that controls every part of her life. One day she sees her father watching from the other side of the wall and he’s trying to tell her something, a way to bring them all back together. But it will mean becoming an enemy of the state and risking not just her life, but her family and friends as well.

This story is an incredibly moving depiction of a young person dreaming in a world that crushes dreams. Obviously the subject matter is a little complicated and if you’re not reading it with your child or your class you should still be prepared to have a talk with your young person about the historical context and the effects of war more broadly. This is a serious story, with only the lightest touch of humour in it  but a really moving and genuine, particularly focusing on the strength of relationships between people in hard times and that keeps it from being totally depressing. Also, the writing is very on point – if you’re not feeling nervous for the whole last half, I’m not sure you’re a human.

I strongly recommend this book (seriously) and I would recommend it even if it didn’t seem quite timely, given the current political climate. In today’s context, I think it’s even more important as a study in empathy, sympathy and for its unwavering conviction that people who do bad things are not always bad people but desperate ones and that people will defend their families no matter what the risk. This power shouldn’t be underestimated.

Last movie I watched: I have no idea. It might have been Home. It might not have been.

Last TV episode I watched: Smallville. I missed the season finale for this season (8 I think). I have to say, it’s very edge of your seat excitementy.

 

 

7 Evil Ex Boyfriends

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley

This is another one that I read months ago. I really liked it and understood how it became such a classic. It probably won’t  be my classic, but that’s okay. I support other people’s classics too.

Also, I feel really sorry for Knives the whole time.

Last movie I watched:

Die Hard 2. Not genius but fun!

Last TV show I watched:

The first episode of the Crown. Love it.