Culture Consumption: December 2016

Alrighty, here’s December in books, movies, and such. I’ll be posting my lists of Top Books and Top Movies from the year over the next couple of days.


Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway introduces Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a place for children who have been there and back again, those who have found doorways to other worlds (of which there are many) that feel more home than home, and who, for one reason or another, found themselves back in the mundane world of their previous lives. It’s a place where these children can bide their time, trying to make do while they search for a way back to where they really belong, or learn to accept and make peace with the fact that they’ll never return. The story centers on Nancy, a teenage girl who has traveled to an underworld presided over by the lord of the dead, a place where she has learned to still herself into a statue. Having returned home, her parents can’t accept who she is now and so have sent her away to this school, where disasters begin to happen shortly after she arrives.

This story is beautiful and I love the way it presents different worlds for each kind of child and different kids for each kind of world. I also love the way it rejects the idea that a child like Alice would want to live in England instead of a place like Wonderland. It’s a good thing that this is a series, because I wanted more from this book, more of the characters and this strange school and of the worlds beyond.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a beautiful story of family, art, betrayal, and loss. Centering around a twin brother and sister, the story is split across two timelines — with Noah telling the story from when they were 14 years old and Jude telling it from the perspective of being 16 years old. Nelson does an amazing job of interweaving events, showing how seemingly disconnected events from the past have a profound impact on the present. I especially liked how she managed to give Noah and Jude each their own voice — similar, but unique to themselves and how they view the world. The writing style is heavy on the metaphor, trying to present how each twin views the world, which worked well for me.

I also really enjoyed Independent Ed, which I discussed elsewhere, and Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal, a novela set in a future where everyone is connected to the cloud. Continuing to dig the Lumberjanes series of graphic novels, as well.

Books Finished:
1. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
2. Independent Ed by Edward Burns
3. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
4. Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal
5. I’ll Give You the Sun (audio book) by Jandy Nelson
6. Ghosts by by Raina Telgemeier
7. A Step From Heaven by An Na
8. Lumberjanes Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan, written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis, illustrated by Brooke A. Allen

Total books for the year: 57

Still in Progress: Tim Burton: Essays on the Films, edited by Johnson Cheu


Arrival is a brilliant first contact movie, with the main character Louise Banks working with a team in order to find a way to communicate with the visitors and finding her own mind opened up in the process. I’ll be talking about this one more in a couple of days in my “Best of Movies” list, so I’ll keep this short for now — basically, I loved it.

Amy Adams in Arrival
Amy Adams in Arrival

In The Invitation, we get to take part in one of the most awkward dinner party’s ever, made even more unsettling by the main character’s distrust of the hosts’ creepily cheerful behavior. The music, cinematography, and performances all work together to create a slowly building tension that kept me guessing as to how it would all end up.  Fantastic thriller.

The Invitation
The Invitation

Rogue One was a satisfying and entertaining installment of the Star Wars storyline, with great action and humor. The sarcastic K-2SO is probably my favorite character in the movie.

New-to-me movies this month:
1. Star Trek Beyond (2016)
2. Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
3. An Education (2009)
4. Office Christmas Party (2016)
5. Arrival (2016)
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
7. Interstellar (2014)
8. Pete’s Dragon (2016)
9. The Invitation (2015)


Having never watched it before not, I started up on Game of Thrones, binge watching season one during my holiday break. I’m not surprised by many of the big developments, because of all the fan commentary parading across the internet. It’s kind of hard not to get spoiled, but that doesn’t matter. It’s an entertaining show even if you do know some of what’s coming — entertaining and full of extreme violence and sex.

My favorite characters so far are Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen (Khaleesi), Tyrion Lannister. Though each are different, they all have the ability to fight for themselves even though they may seem small or weak from an outside perspective. Add to that a compassion for others combined with the ability to act (sometimes violently) when needed makes these three particularly interesting to me.

I want Joffrey to die. Like with a fiery passion, I want him to die. The cruel little bastard.

In other TV news, I’ve fallen behind on The Walking Dead. I’m not sure by how many episodes at the moment. Five? Hopefully, I can catch up before the mid-season break is over.

That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?