Reading Roundup: June 2017

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright

My fears that this book would be too dense and complex and that I would get bogged down in reading it turned out to be unfounded. While it is long and covers a lot of different people and events, the writing is clear enough to keep a good pace and maintain interest throughout the book. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of religion, history, and our current political situation.

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Rosalyn is a friend, and so I feel a little bad that I bought her book several months ago and didn't get around to reading it until now. I loved the magic system and the unique historical setting, since I know very little about Hungary (either in the past or the present). The plot was well-paced and had a lot of twists and turns that I wasn't expecting. I passed it off to S-Boogie after I read it, and she is having a great time with it too.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I've read a few reviews complaining about the fact that this book is completely unrealistic and historically inaccurate. That is completely correct--although it's ostensibly historical fiction, really this book is pure fantasy. However, it is also a ton of fun to read and a completely charming story. The count is a delightful character and I got so lost in his adventures that I had to spend a few days recovering after finishing the book.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Thankfully I had another charming book to read after finishing the last one. Although I haven't liked all of her books, I think this one really showcases Kinsella at her best. Yes, the main character is totally immature and annoying in the beginning, but she not only grows up, but also finds romance, friendship, and a better relationship with her family along the way.

Wish You Happy Forever by Jenny Bowen

I've had this on my to-read list for a long time, but finally got around to reading it since it was our book club pick for this month. As I read about Bowen's experiences, I really got thinking about my own ability to help others and whether or not I'm really doing all that I could to make the world a better place. It was better-written and more compelling than I had expected.

Girl Under Water by Claire Kells

I read this book very quickly because it was so suspenseful; the interspersing of Avery's current state with flashbacks to her accident accelerated the pace, and in fact I was even a bit disappointed at the end because it wasn't quite what I expected. Sometimes I found the main character to be a bit difficult to empathize with, but that is also because her struggles with PTSD and guilt from her accident are accurately portrayed. I really couldn't tell from the listing on Amazon whether or not this is meant to be YA fiction or not--the protagonist is only nineteen and it has a bit of a YA feel, but I'm not sure it was entirely mean to be for teens. Either way, it was a good book, no matter who the intended audience is.

Movies

The Killing

This is obviously not a movie, but I watched the first two seasons and thought I should review it. Despite the constant rain and the sometimes grim locations, it made me miss Seattle a bit (I haven't been back since we moved away). I thought it did a good job balancing all the different characters and storylines, and I loved figuring out how everyone and everything connected with each other.

Before Sunrise

I decided to watch this movie on a whim after seeing a note somewhere that it was June 16, the date on which the movie takes place. It is a lovely movie, and despite primarily consisting of two people just walking around talking, it's quite romantic. I think I need to watch the two follow-up movies to see how the rest of the story plays out.

Gone Girl

After reading the book, I really had no desire to see this movie; however, I kept reading good reviews of it, especially focused on the social commentary aspects of it. It turns out both things were right: like the book, it is both technically brilliant and completely cynical in its view of the world. In fact, I think that in some ways it surpasses the book, especially in its critiques of our current media-saturated culture. Although it may not appear to be noir at first glance, particularly in visual style, this film actually feels like a brilliant combination of noir attitudes combined with the particular weirdness of cable news and social media. It's also really violent and disturbing--I find myself wanting to watch it again in order to study it, while simultaneously wanting to never think about it again. If you're thinking of watching it, you might want to consider reading the book first (for a number of reasons, including determining your tolerance level for violence and amorality). 

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