My Week In Books, TV and Movies

Since my last attemt at a weekly post didn’t work, I decided to try something new.  My new weekly Friday post will be about what I have consumed media-wise over the week.  We will see how long it takes for me to stop following through on this one.

Reading – I am reading American Heart by Laura Moriarty. I decided to read it after I read about the controversy surrounding the book. Kirkus gave it a starred review and then took it back after complaints. People are apparently upset that the story is what they consider an offensive white savior narrative. The basic story is that in a world where Muslims are being sent to detention camps a 15 year old white girl has to overcome her prejudices to help a Musim woman escape. I’m about halfway through and my main complaint is that the story is too slow. I don’t have a problem with people not wanting to read the book. I do have a problem with people giving it bad reviews on Goodreads without reading it. I also have a problem with Kirkus changing their review based on complaints, especially since they say the reviewer who gave it the starred review was Muslim. I see the issue with a white savior narrative, but I also see why a white woman would likely tell the story through the eyes of a white woman.

Movies – I watched Wonder with my daughter on my day off on Tuesday. I never read the book, but I knew the general story. A kid with facial differences goes to school for the first time after being homeschooled and deals with bullies and making friends. It was a good movie, for the most part. I liked that they told the story from the perspective of a few different characters. I didn’t think they needed to tack on to the end that the school gave him an award at the end of the year. Wasn’t it enough of a feel good story that he made friends and was able to make friends and overcome the initial bullying? Did anyone else who watched it feel like it was the school saying “look at us. we gave an award to the kid who is different. Aren’t we special”? Or is that just because I watch and love Speechless where they routinely bash schools and organizations who do that sort of thing?

Television: I watch way too much to talk about it all. I will say that I am really enjoying Alex, Inc, but I think you have to be a big Zach Braff fan to like it. I started watching Station 19(the Greys’s Anatomy firefighter spinoff) and like it a lot more than I was expecting. I am a fan of Grey’s though, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m also watching Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. It is Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in a sitcom where Barrymore plays a realtor who is now undead and has to eat people with Olyphant as her husband. It is very good and it’s fun to see Olyphant play a totally different character than his Justified tough guy.

Other media news:  I finally made the decision to change from the physical delivery of the Washington Post to a digital subscription with Sunday delivery only. I can still read the entire print version of the paper on my iPad, get my coupons, crossword and Sunday comics delivered and save several hundred dollars a year. I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner.

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A Short Rant

The Youth Media Awards were announced this week. The book Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly won the Newbery Award. I saw one person on Facebook comment that the one review of the book mentioned that the r word is used a lot in the book. I don’t now what review that was, but I found one on Amazon with the same complaint. Is the r word used in the book? Yes, but you have to look at context. It is used multiple times by the bully against a kid who goes to the resource room for special help. I know that we would rather not see the word, but if you are writing realistic fiction you have to be realistic. I guarantee you kids are still calling other kids retarded no matter how many times we tell them the word is hurtful. It is real for the bully to use the word. Nothing about the book makes it seem this is OK.

In the fall there was a big controversy over the book The Black Witch. There was a review online that pulled several racist comments out and used them to say the book was hurtful and should never have been published. People piled on and posted negative reviews on Goodreads without ever reading the book. I read the book. What they fail to comprehend is that those racist statements in the book were said by racist characters. Some were said by the main character, but the entire point of the book was to see the growth in a character who was raised to believe her race was superior only to realize how wrong that was once she goes to school with other races. Context matters. It was a very good book.

I keep seeing over and over again how books are being pulled from schools because parents complained about language or other content without thinking that this language and content is what makes the book real. Why do you want your kids to read sugar-coated realities? Why are we judging books on a few words instead of on the entire content of the book? Why can’t we read challenging and difficult stories anymore?

Also – there was another school shooting today. We seem to be more active in removing “dangerous” books from schools than we are in keeping actual danger out. Maybe we could fix that?

While My Face is Numb…

I am home after a trip to the dentist. I am still partially numb. I had some gum lasered off and a tooth filled. I am afraid of what my mouth will feel like when I am no longer numb. I’m hoping it won’t be as bad as I think.  While I am killing time watching women’s luge some random thoughts that aren’t enough for a full post:

The 2018 Youth Media Awards were announced today. Click here to see the winners. I’ve read The Hate U Give and The Long Way Down. Both excellent books. I’ve checked the Newberry and the Printz winners out and will read them soon. I’ve placed holds on several of the Alex Award winners/ This is perfect timing as I was about to finish the last book I had from the library. I’m looking forward to some good reading.

I stopped at Target on the way home today but bought nothing. I stopped to look at some products like facial wash for men, beard balm, generally things that aren’t necessary but might make me feel a little better about myself. I looked at prices and didn’t buy anything because I wasn’t sure it was worth the money. Basically, that I am not worth the money. Some day I will learn to not walk away from buying something for myself. Today was not that day.

Continuing my bad sports year. Braves were bad. Ravens were bad. Kentucky basketball is bad. Libraries on the are where the Braves play might close, possibly because they wasted so much money on a stadium when the existing stadium was fine. I can take a bad team if they are lovable losers. I loved watching the bumbling Braves of the 80’s These teams are not lovable losers. It’s not fun to watch.

Now I’m off to walk the dog and hope that my face doesn’t start hurting. Happy Monday!

 

 

My Year in Reading 2017

This is the year I finally got lazy and stopped keeping my written list of the books I read. I might try to go back to it this year. You never know when Goodreads might disappear. All of the stats are from Goodreads. My top book are the ones I gave five stars and then the four star books I felt were the best of the rest.  I started the year with a 1000 page book and ended the year with a 700 page book.This year will be an easier start for me. So, here it is – my year in reading for 2017:

Top ten books read in no particular order

  • Strange Weather by Joe Hill
  • Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • Revolver by Duane Swierczynski
  • Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick(I might have a crush and it was audio so she read it to me)
  • The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Honorable Mention

  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King
  • The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor
  • IQ by Joe Ide
  • Spoiler Alert by Michael Ausiello
  • Unbelievable by Katy Tur

Book I would most recommend

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. It was close between this, Impossible Fortress and The Hate U Give

Worst Books I Finished

  • Who Is Rich by Matthew Klam
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera(though a teenager implied I was too old to get it)

Book I Dustbunnied

None this year. I finished History is All You Left me because it was for work. I’m not sure why I kept reading Who is Rich. I need to be better about abandoning bad books.

Number of books read: 104

Number of pages read according to Goodreads: 30869. I did the math and that averages to 84.5 pages a day. I think I can do better.

 

Every Story Has an End

Day 16 of the month of Tater and I’m sure based on the title you’re thinking “Oh no. Another one of his sappy ‘feelings’ posts about death or change or something”  Good news, fake reader! You’re wrong! This is about actual stories in books, TV and movies.

I watched the series finale of Vice Principals this week. It was only on for two seasons and Danny McBride says that this was always the plan. He had a story. He told the story. The story is over. I like that. Every story has an end and it is better if the creator of that story writes the end(unless your name is George RR Martin). Too many times, a story is not allowed to end naturally. It goes on way past the natural end or it is ended early due to ratings issues.

Under the Dome was a good Stephen King book that would have been a good TV mini-series. Unfortunately, the ratings meant the network kept asking for more, so the story dragged on and on way past the natural end. The Mist, on the other hand, was a TV series that I worried would suffer the same fate, but instead, was canceled after one season mid-story. I would rather a TV show have two very good seasons and then end than go on indefinitely, even after there are decent stories to tell. Unfortunately, it is a business and driven by money, not story.

The same happens at the movies. Some movie franchises end before the story is over because of poor earnings. Some franchises(I’m looking at you, Transformers) go on way too long. Sometimes, the franchise tells the story in full but does something stupid like split a book in to two movies when one would suffice(cough, Twilight) in order to wring some more money out of the fans. Again, a creative industry driven by money, not creativity.

Alas, the same happens with books. Usually, with books it is the problem of a series going on too long. I’m not sure I need another Stephanie Plum or Alex Cross adventure, though I admit I am part of the problem because I keep reading them.  If you can keep the stories fresh, a long series is fine. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Connelly’s Bosch series and Crais’ Elvis Cole/Joe Pike are some examples of that. The worst offenders in the “stop already” book series are the “the author keeps writing after they are dead” series. I get the desire to finish a book if the author was close to done upon their death, but that’s about it. We don’t need more Vince Flynn books if they aren’t written by Vince Flynn. Terry Pratchett had the right idea when he directed “whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all” to stop people from writing “Pratchett novels” after he was gone. More authors should go this route.

Every story has to end. Please let them end naturally.

 

My Year in Reading 2016

I really didn’t think I would make it to 100 books this year. I went through a stretch when it was difficult for me to focus on reading. I did list 10 best books and some honorable mentions, but it was harder this year. I did more audio books this year. There will be fewer of those this year since my commute is shorter and I won’t be driving alone to Kentucky.I set my goal at 100 again, but my real goal is to continue to try to diversify my reading and to read at least one classic I have not read before.

Top ten books read in no particular order

  • The Winter Family by Cifford Jackman
  • I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill
  • I Must Say by Martin Short
  • Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
  • End of Watch by Stephen King
  • But What If We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman
  • The Whistler by John Grisham
  • Bazaar of Bad Dreans by Stephen King
  • The End by Charlie Higson

Honorable Mention

  • Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
  • Kraken by China Mieville
  • Ms Marvel vol 1 by G Willow Wilson
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  • Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt
  • Let the Right One In by John Lindquist

Book I would most recommend

The Fireman by Joe Hill. It is very long, but it is worth the time.

Worst book I finished

If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher

Book I Dustbunnied

None this year. I would have stopped reading the above book, but it was for book club and I always finish book club books no matter how bad they are.

Number of books read: 101

Number of pages read according to Goodreads: 31304 – This is wrong. They have one book listed as 6 pages and I know it was around 200, but this is easier than trying to add them all up.

 

Tater Takes On Burkinis, Babies and Books

Burkini Bans: The news broke today that the French court ruled that mayors could not ban burkinis on their public beaches. I was happy to see this news. It’s ridiculous that burkinis were banned in the first place, especially in France where their beaches are generally known for an anything goes attitude when it comes to swimsuits or the lack thereof. This was just another stupid “all Muslims are bad” reaction to terrorism. Somehow, we are supposed to assume a woman in a burkini wants to kill us all and not just simply enjoy the beach while wearing what makes her comfortable. We feel comfortable assuming all Muslims are bad because of terrorist acts of a radical extreme, but we would never assume every white guy with a gun wants to shoot up a movie theater or church. We can’t judge and discriminate against someone else for the actions of another. I’m glad to see the French courts agree.

Birthing Babies: Yesterday the news was posted on sports sites and twitter feeds that AJ Green would miss a game for the birth of his child. This was broken like it was big news. I don’t get why it’s such big news. I missed work when my kids were born. I think most people who have the ability to be there for the birth of their child are there for the event. I know Green makes a lot more money than me, but should that mean that he should go to work instead of being there for the birth?  This isn’t news. It’s a father doing the right thing.

Books: I am reading a book that features a deaf character in parts. I like the books, but I think it’s weird that all other dialogue is in regular print, but the dialogue in sign language is in italics.  Is this normal for books with deaf characters? Do they really think we need an indication that this dialogue is in sign language? Can’t we just assume that if the deaf character is speaking, this is likely the case? Can’t the dialogue just be in regular print like the rest? I don’t know why it annoys me so much. It just does.