Let's talk about Young Adult Fiction because I stayed up way too late earlier this week reading Delirium / Lauren Oliver* and I have some capital-O Opinions on the subject.

   First off, Delirium is about 70% not thrilling and I was only staying up late (or should I say early) in a spirit of "please let's just get this over with" before I remembered that I can darn well read what I want/stop reading what I want. I won't tell you what time it was when I had the realization "OMGosh there are so many things I'd rather be doing right now (namely: sleeping)" and I put the book down by my bed and have picked it up once since to read a single page and confirm my fears: it's really not that great. My main complaint is "ugh, so lovey-dovey" which I probably should have seen coming based on the book's premise: it's the future and love has been labelled as a disease and when people turn 18 they get a surgery to burn the ability to love out of their brain. Think Equilibrium but with teens. Interesting premise, right? It is, but be prepared for some serious teen angst.

   This book did a few ideas well, like acceptable vs illicit music. The main illegal thing "uncureds" do is go to concerts. At one point the protagonist, whose name I can't actually remember at the moment, finds out that there are a series of raids going on so she goes to the house where her former best friend (with whom she has had the stupidest falling out) is at a concert to warn of imminent capture. Alas, she is too late and the party gets busted. WHICH LEADS TO one of the most annoying aspects of the story. Protagonist gets bitten by a police dog and the injury is described as a chunk of flesh missing but she only suffers ill effects, such as pain, for about a day. WTH, Lauren Oliver.

   Side note: while it annoys me that seemingly everyone and their dog is getting on the YA dystopia train, I'd rather they be pumping out novels about a dismal future world instead of trite vampire books. If you want to read about vampires go ahead but at least start with Dracula / Bram Stoker so you have a good base to work off of. Also, Delirium is the first in a trilogy and oh man, can we please just have some stand alone books now?

   Okay, back to the subject at hand: YAF. You know when you are reading something and you just want to grab the protagonist's shoulders and say "give it a rest"? Well, turns out that is often what happens while wading through the world of YA novels. However! There are some true gems out there and Yours Truly is willing to search them out. Benefits of YAF include, but are not limited to, quick reads, scope for the imagination, and some genuinely good books. While I don't exactly recommend finding a YA author and sticking with them (YA, like many other aspects of the book biz, suffers from a value of quantity over quality) I do heartily advocate finding a genre and working from there. My favorites almost always end up in one of two categories:
  1. Dystopian stories
  2. Houses that are creepy
    Give me those two things and I am SOLD SOLD SOLD.

   Anyways, this has become super long so here is a very short list of YA books that feature either fiendish houses or society gone wrong that I want you to read and we'll leave it at that**:
  • Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children / Ransom Riggs
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle / Shirley Jackson
  • Coraline / Neil Gaiman
  • The Giver / Lois Lowry
  •  The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins***

*Delirium is dystopian and as I've said many times I love dystopia but lets be honest: it's not all created equal and this one is a dud.  
**I had to severely limit myself in listing books here or this post would go on and on and on and I'd be saying "oh and that book reminds me of this one! And that author is quite good! And I was reading a review of that book and it led me to this one!" and so on. 
***please don't despise me for listing HG alongside The Giver. To be honest these were the first two in the genre that came to mind. And while we're here, why couldn't the second and third HG books just be about Finnick ODair and Johanna Mason? Why why why why indeed. Give me Hunger Games sans Katniss' romantic waffling and I'd be happy.



   New Years. We love it. We hate it. We tried so hard and got so far, and in the end it doesn't even matter.

   Last year my resolution was simple: watch fewer movies and read more books than the year before. I kept it, which wasn't actually that hard because I read a paltry 25 books in 2012. 70 movies and 25 books in 2012, 62 movies and 40 books in 2013. The goal for this year is somewhat more challenging, especially considering that I will be starting school which, incidentally, involves a lot of reading and will take up a lot of my time.

   Resolved 2014:
  • Read at least 52 books
  • Watch at most 52 movies
  • Read through the Bible

   I've decided that reading the whole Bible should be a rolling resolution. I should do it every year.  I've read through it, but there are some books I've only read once and that's a crying shame.

books and movies 2013

   In 2012 I got into the habit of making a list of all of the books I read and movies I see. Otherwise how would I keep track? How would I know when to ease off on the Disney and/or murder mysteries? It would be a hard knock life and no mistake. Anyways it is the New Year and in honour of Janus (not actually in honour of Janus) I recommend you make two Word documents or two notes on your phone and title them "Movies 2014" and "Books 2014" respectively and then you too can make a post in the New Year extolling your virtues and/or apologizing for the lack of intelligent content. However, if you don't mind if your media intake is somewhat mindless then no need to apologize! Carry on your merry way.

   As a bonus: keeping these lists has made me more humble about my movie choices. I can't snootily say that I only watch movies from the 1950s and earlier when clearly I don't. And even when I do they are often screwball comedies (a pinnacle of hilarity, let me tell you) and really, just as good as the movies we make now.

   On to the lists. Here it is, friends: all the books I read in 2014 in the order I read them. (A disclaimer: I don't recommend every book and movie on these lists. Some were excellent, some were not. I'm posting these without commentary but feel free to ask me about them! I love to talk about stories.)

An * means I've read/watched it before.
  1. Siddhartha / Hermann Hesse
  2. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School / Kathleen Flinn
  3. 1984 / George Orwell
  4. Batman : Noel / Lee Bermejo
  5. Gotham Central v. 4 / Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker
  6. *Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone / J.K. Rowling
  7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky
  8. French Milk / Lucy Knisley
  9. Under the Banner of Heaven / John Krakauer
  10. Anne of Green Gables / L.M. Montgomery
  11. *Till We Have Faces / C.S. Lewis
  12. Batwoman : Hydrology / J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman
  13. The Tipping Point / Malcolm Gladwell (abridged)
  14. Bossypants / Tina Fey
  15. The Invincible Ironman : Extremis / Warren Ellis, Adi Granov
  16. Blink / Malcolm Gladwell
  17. This Book is Overdue! / Marilyn Johnson
  18. Redskull : Incarnate / Greg Pak, Mirko Colak
  19. Thirteen Reasons Why / Jay Asher
  20. Anne of Avonlea /  L.M. Montgomery
  21. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? / Mindy Kaling
  22. The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved / Joey Comeau
  23. Beasts of Burden : Animal Rites / Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson
  24. Nurtureshock / Po Bronson, Amy Merryman
  25. Enough Room For Joy / Bill Clarke
  26. Saga v. 1-2 / Brian K Vaughn, Fiona Staples
  27. Anne of the Island / L.M. Montgomery
  28. Foundation / Isaac Asimov
  29. Slaughterhouse-Five / Kurt Vonnegut
  30. *Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / J.K. Rowling
  31. A Grief Observed / C.S. Lewis
  32. Adventure Time v. 1 / Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb
  33. The Poisoner's Handbook / Deborah Blum
  34. The Drunken Botanist / Amy Stewart
  35. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair / Nina Sankovitch
  36. I Am Malala / Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb
  37. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children / Ransom Riggs
  38. Alone on the Ice / David Roberts
  39. Sparkling Cyanide / Agatha Christie
  40. The Book Thief / Markus Zusak
 And the movies! Keep in mind that I wouldn't tell everyone to watch all of these movies. Some were good, some were not good, some people would enjoy some of them and not others. Some stories will click with you and some won't and the whys and wherefores of it all are a bit of a mystery. Also: I am not 100% sure I have every single movie I watched on this list. Sometimes I watch a movie and then completely forget about it.
  1. *Hunger Games (12)
  2. *Megamind (10)
  3. *The Dark Knight Rises (12)
  4. Looper (12)
  5. Life of Pi (12)
  6. Les Miserables (12)(x2)
  7. About a Boy (02)
  8. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (05)
  9. *The Fountain (06)
  10. Sherlock Season 2 (12)
  11. The More the Merrier (43)
  12. *Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (07)
  13. Argo (12)
  14. Mirror Mirror (12)
  15. *Cat Ballou (65)
  16. It Might Get Loud (08)
  17. *The Scarlet Pimpernel (82)
  18. *Pitch Perfect (12)
  19. *Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2 (11)
  20. *Monsters Inc (01)
  21.  Oblivion (13)
  22. Shutter Island (10)
  23. Gangs of New York (02)
  24. *Sabrina (54)
  25. *17 Again (09)
  26. Mission Impossible (96)
  27. The Great Gatsby (13)(x2)
  28. The Talk of the Town (42)
  29. Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol (11)
  30. Now You See Me (13)
  31. *Get Smart (08)
  32. Minority Report (02)
  33. To Catch a Thief (53)
  34. *Notorious (46)
  35. *The Big Lebowski (98)
  36. Red 2 (13)
  37. The Last Stand (13)
  38. *Hercules (97)
  39. *Meet the Robinsons (07)
  40. *I Capture the Castle
  41. *Under the Greenwood Tree (05)
  42. Top Gun (86)
  43. Anchorman (04)
  44. The X-Files (98)
  45. *Boondock Saints (99)
  46. Oceans 13 (07)
  47. *Cinderella (97)(live action)
  48. *Princess Diaries 2 (04)
  49. *Batman Begins (05)
  50. *Atlantis (01)
  51. *Treasure Planet (02)
  52. *Ironman 2 (10)
  53. Monster's University (13)
  54. *The Importance of Being Earnest (02)
  55. *One Night With the King (06)
  56. My Man Godfrey (36)
  57. Benny and Joon (93)
  58. The Phantom of the Opera (04)
  59. *The Hunchback of Notre Dame (96)
  60. Sinbad : Legend of the Seven Seas (03)
  61. Catching Fire (13)
  62. Holiday Inn (42)