What I’m Into: August 2017

tomato salad

eclipseAugust was good to us.

It was mostly slow and relaxed, with fewer appointments than usual. We stayed home quite a bit, with plenty of play dates for Lydia. We went to the zoo one day and we watched the eclipse (we had about 85% coverage here in southern Ontario).

All in all, a good month. And here are some of the things I enjoyed.

Books

audiobooks

(Once again, I “read” all of these in audiobook form. I do not have time to sit down and read with my eyeballs, but I sure got a lot of books under my belt this month by listening to them while I worked!)

Wonder – R. J. Polacio. I bought this best-selling children’s book on Audible when it was on sale for a few dollars. It’s absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend it. It tells the story of a nine-year-old boy who was born with severe facial deformities, and who is starting school for the first time in his life. We get to hear the story from a number of different perspectives, including Auggie himself, his big sister, his new friends, and even his sister’s friend. As the mother of an atypical boy myself, my heart especially went out to his parents. It’s moving, heart-wrenching, and important.

I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai. I’m trying to read more diverse books, and I love Malala’s example as a brave, compassionate, peacemaking Muslim girl. You probably already know that she’s the girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban, to keep her for speaking out for girls’ education in Pakistan; this book provides the background story of her childhood, and then covers her recovery from the near-fatal injury and how the world responded. The story is beautifully written, with lovely and moving descriptions of her homeland; and Malala’s (and her father’s) incredible courage in the face of danger and persecution is awe-inspiring.

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie. Okay. Wow. I did not know Agatha Christie was so dark. Judging from her name, I thought she wrote books for old ladies. Holy smokes was I wrong. This was one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read! And did you know it’s the seventh best-selling books of all time?!?! In any language?!?!

Okay, let’s take a step back. The book starts kind of slow as all the characters are introduced. Ten people have been invited to a lonely mansion on an island, but the mysterious host fails to arrive. Soon, we learn that every guest has a dark secret in their past. Then, they start to die, one by one . . . It is terrifying and suspenseful and macabre and unlike anything I’ve read before. The audiobook is narrated by the talented Dan Stevens, whom I gushed about a few months ago. If you like a dark and thrilling murder mystery, this might be a great fall/October read.

Daughter of Smoke and BoneLaini Taylor. I always gotta round out my monthly reading with at least one YA fantasy novel. This one is unique and fascinating in some ways, but conventional and predictable in others. The forbidden love story, for example, totally made me roll my eyes. (I’m not easily impressed by romance, and Akiva is kind of an unconvincing love interest. Enough with the brooding!). But the story of a young artist being raised by devils and being sent to fetch teeth from collectors all over the world intrigued me immensely. The book is chock-full of mystery and magic and danger and creepy characters. It’s the first book in a trilogy, though, and we’ll see if I continue.

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual – Luvvie Ajayi. I’ve been following Luvvie on social media for a while, and I love her for her humour and insight into politics and pop culture. So I finally decided to buy her bestselling book, which she narrates herself in her delightful, energetic voice. The very first sentence starts, “One day, I was minding everyone’s business, scrolling through my Facebook news feed. . .” and I knew I had landed on a winner. It’s both laugh-out-loud funny (especially the chapter on cosmetic surgery), and also poignant and sobering (like when she talks about privilege and race). Good stuff here. But also: language warning.

Prodigy – Marie Lu. I decided to go ahead and try book 2 of the Legend trilogy, and I was surprised to find that I liked it better than the first! (Which I talked about here). Again, the love story left me unimpressed, but when the characters find they have to grapple with some complicated political issues, I was pulled in. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s lying? Will assassinating the young new elector primo bring the revolution the country needs, or will it only allow a greater threat to take power? I’m actually looking forward to reading the next one, though I couldn’t care less whether Day and June end up together. (Although, of course they will. Because YA dystopian fiction.)

Movies

Spider-Man: Homecoming. I know, I know. Why on earth do we need ANOTHER Spiderman movie? The reason is because finally, someone has made a good one! While I’ve felt pretty meh about all previous Spiderman movies (and I love superhero movies), this one had me cheering and laughing and squeezing Lydia’s hand with excitement. (Oh yeah, she saw it and loved it, too). Perhaps the greatest feature of this version is the casting: Tom Holland is the perfect (adorably geeky) Peter Parker. His enthusiastic, nerdy friend friend Ned is the best. They’re actually believable high school kids. It’s funny and heartwarming and moving and fun. Everything about it is great. It got a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!

Lego Batman Movie. (Rented). Someone described this movie as the Batman movie you didn’t know you needed, and I agree with that assessment. It’s funny and irreverent, poking fun at Batman and the whole superhero phenomenon. The premise is hilarious: The Joker is disappointed to learn that Batman doesn’t feel their relationship is exclusive, so he summons all the super-villains (from other franchises) to help him destroy Gotham. It’s completely delightful to see a Lego Voldemort, Sauron, and Agent Smith in this world. It’s just a ton of fun.

And that’s it for now! What have you been into?

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Comments

  1. My youngest son and I are big fans of audio books, and I had just heard Anne Bogel recommend And Then There Were None to someone on her podcast, so was going to pick it up for us — and NOW here you are recommending it as well! Glad to know it’s riveting, because I think my son was put off by the “old-lady” sound of her name as well.
    I love the name of your blog.
    Michele Morin recently posted..Living Beyond First Person: How to Really Benefit from Personality InventoriesMy Profile

  2. Oh I love Wonder so much, and am a huge Agatha Christie fan. Will have to put the other books you mentioned on my list – they all sound fascinating!

  3. What a productive month! I love the pic of the eclipse. I loved the book recommendations for your post this month!

  4. I love the Daughter Of Smoke And Bone trilogy! I hope you’ll continue with it. Laini Taylor is such an interesting author.

  5. Agatha Christie has an old-lady name because she lived in old-lady times. But she is such a fascinating person! She drove ambulances in London during the Blitz, and traveled around the world in 1922 (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Canada) (it took almost a full year, during which she left her two-year-old daughter with her sister in England–which I cannot imagine doing, but still). She was awesome, and her books are also great. I’m surprised you’ve never read And Then There Were None before, though; it’s common to read it in school in the States (we read it in fourth or fifth grade, though a lot of people read it in middle or high school).

    Wasn’t Spiderman excellent? I loved it, and so did our kiddos. The director pulled his proposals of how the school would look from real science magnet schools in NYC, and purposely strove to make the auditions diverse so that the kids would represent reality (NYC obviously is a very diverse place, especially a magnet school that pulls from many different parts of the city) but just by making it normal, not a plot point. So it wasn’t like, Peter Parker needs an ethnic sidekick friend! But, let’s make sure that actors of color are welcomed and encouraged to audition, and hey, if a lot of the students aren’t white, that’s because that’s reality, and not because we’re checking the diversity box for the academic decathlon team (nerdy Asian, check; nerdy black guy, check; nerdy girl, check) but then all the leads are white. This is the article I read about it: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-spider-man-homecoming-diversity-inclusion-20170710-story.html

    I’ll have to look up the Lego Batman movie on your recommendation now.

    • Dang, you were assigned And Then There Were None when you were, like, eleven? That’s some pretty dark material! It was almost too creepy for me in my thirties!

      And I understand Agatha Christie’s name is a product of her time, but many of her contemporaries don’t have such a distinctly old-lady ring to them. Like Dorothy Sayers. Or C. S. Lewis or Tolkein. Maybe she should have used her initials? A. C. M. Christie? Or stuck with her maiden name . . . A. C. M. Miller? That sounds more timeless. :)

      The director of Spiderman NAILED it. I loved the high school atmosphere, and it felt completely natural. Thanks for the link!

      • True. Agatha is a stereotypical old-lady name these days. Dorothy doesn’t sound as dated, somehow, but maybe she should have gone the initials route.

        Nine or ten. I had the same teacher for fourth and fifth grade so I don’t remember which year it was, but it was with Mrs. Payne so it was one of those years. In some ways I think it was less creepy at that age. This might be an American thing, but do you remember the Goosebumps or the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series? Those books were all the rage at that age, and some of those stories are legit scary, and a lot of them are pretty gross. So I guess Christie didn’t seem that bad in comparison, and at least it’s actual good literature. ;-)

  6. I need to read Prodigy. I read the first book a few years ago and just never got around to reading the second one. . .soonnnnn. It is on the top of my library reading list too that I take with me whenever I go there. . .so it will be really soon.

    I loved I Am Malala!!!

    Can’t wait to see the new Spiderman movie when I get a chance to after it comes out digitally or on netflix.

    I had called the LEGO Batman movie the best batman film ever haha. It makes me laugh a lot.

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