cymry: (toothless)
[personal profile] cymry
My life is a roller-coaster, and December was particularly bumpy. A mix of free time and frantic visits make for strange reading.



Books
China Dolls by Lisa See - actually a very interesting look at Chinese culture in the USA during the early 20th century, as well as an intriguing glimpse into the world of variety shows and vaudeville. Having 3 main characters and jumping between their points of view was nice.
Made for You by Melissa Marr - I'm slowly going through all of this author's books because, every once in a while, there's a hidden gem and it's absolutely marvelous. Sadly, this wasn't one of them; a light, fluffy read, good for a quick novel that doesn't require much thought.
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff - another teen book, another light read. Enjoyable.
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day - I have to admit, I was expecting a bit more from this. As I suspected, an autobiography written when the author is in her late 20s/early 30s just doesn't have that much meat to it. That being said, it was still entertaining and I could clearly hear Felicia Day's voice throughout the whole thing, so it was like having a long conversation with her.
Closer to Home by Mercedes Lackey - I've loved the Valdemar series for a long, long time. It's classic to me. But I think I have to admit it: Mercedes Lackey has been writing this series for over 20 years and I've seen a steady decline over the last few books. This is the first that I was actually disappointed with: the story rambled, there was a distinct lack of interesting plot, everything was contrived and, (worst of all for a fantasy nerd), she seems to have contradicted her own timeline, something I dismissed as a misreading on my part when I first came across it and then had to admit when I came to put the book away on the shelf. (for my own future reference: how are the Heralds using vrondi for the truth spells when Vanyel hasn't been born yet, much less bound them?)
Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead - my new guilty pleasure series. I've enjoyed a few things from Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy) and avoided others like the plague (Succubus series), but I thought I'd give it a try. Set in a futuristic world where religion and worship are extremely unpopular, it brings the struggle of rising deities to the fore. The main characters are wonderful and believable, the gods are interesting, and there's never a dull moment.

Movies
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part 2 (2015) - very well done. This is one of the only series where I can say that the movies really do justice to the books. There were a few minor changes to the story (which I fully understand, considering time constraints) but it got back on track quickly and managed to run through things quite nicely. I would have liked a few more "Real or Not Real" scenes (there were quite a few in the book) but otherwise, an excellent ending to the series.
Four Weddings and Funeral (1994) - one of those movies I just never saw growing up. I picked it up on a whim at the library and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Captain America: the Winter Soldier (2014) - well, that explains a few things from the SHIELD series. Actually way more fun than I thought it would be... probably because I love Black Widow.


2015 RECAP

I read a grand total of 75 books this year (probably nearer 100 if you count all the manga): 64 were fiction, 11 non-fiction, 4 classics, and only 1 sad lonely French book (I did start reading Suite Francaise in French but I got very bored very quickly and never finished it). It's been a good year for reading things I wouldn't normally read - I blame access to a marvelous library and an unwillingness to actually buy books for fear of having to move them home.

There weren't really any mind-blowing books this year, but there were a few that stand out:

* Life after Life by Kate Atkinson - this is what time-travel should look like... or in this case, an endless repetition of the same life, over and over, with endless changes. It feels like the main character (or some higher power?) is fumbling for an answer, for the solution, for a way to get it perfect... but Fate is a bitch.
* Blankets by Craig Thompson - just a simply beautiful graphic novel. The drawings are evocative and beautifully executed, the story is riveting and very human, and the whole thing just leaves you with a sense of longing and heartbreak.
* The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine - This one caught me by surprise. The premise is a bit ridiculous (I didn't even realize it was based on a fairy tale until I looked it up just now!): 12 sisters who sneak out of their house at night to go dance the Charleston in the clubs of the 20s. But the characters are lovely, I have a weakness for the 20s, and I just really got into the story.
* The Arrivals by Melissa Marr - I think this deserves to be here just for sheer potential. I love this story, I love this idea, I love everything about it... I just wish the author had pushed it further, developed it into something more, something huge and wonderful. But as it is, it's still a really good book that made me think of greater things.


I saw a lot of movies this year but, going over my lists for the year, I noticed I saw a lot of mediocre movies, or feel-good movies, or silly movies. Yes, I enjoyed some quite a bit, but enough to say they were the best I saw this year? Not really.
* The Imitation Game (2015) was wonderful. Well acted, well written, fascinating. By far my favorite.

But this year, TV left movies in the dust. My two favorite things I saw on screen this year, far and away:
* Jessica Jones - this series is dark, heavy, and a little morbid. But it's also huge in opening up the screen (and the MARVEL universe) to a leading cast made up almost entirely of female characters, with several people of color, no hang-ups over sexuality, and touchy, triggery subject matter. I loved every damn second of it, though I couldn't watch more than an episode or two at a time.
* Killjoys - my other all-encompassing love of the year. This is a campy, ridiculous show that doesn't take itself seriously but manages to be funny, surprising, and bad-ass all at once. There are a few very blatant Firefly-inspired (or directly ripped off) moments, some of it is predictable, and some of it doesn't go as far as it could. But oh, how I love their sense of humor, the fact that they're overturning gender stereotypes right from the first episode, and that they allow their main character to be strong AND fragile all at once. As campy space operas go, this is right up there with Firefly in my books.
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