Friday, September 27, 2019

For the past several years, it seems like movies have fallen into three distinct categories: 

1. Superheros, Superhero Reboots, and Superhero Re-Reboots
2. Live-Action Remakes of Animated Classics
3. (usually poorly-done) Adaptions of Books

It is for this reason I've taken to watching older movies (some old faves, others new to me). Because most of these were at least original. So when a NEW film comes along that falls outside the above categories and that also seems genuinely fun and creative, it really catches my interest. Such was the case with Yesterday, starring Himesh Patel and Lily James. I was very excited to experience this one!

So... What would happen if you were to wake up one day and realize that you and you alone are the only one who remembered a monumental pop culture phenomenon and/or historical event? Would you write it off as The Mandela Effect and get on with your life? Or would you take advantage of the knowledge and use it in your favor? (because, really, who's gonna know?This is the premise of the film.

After a bike accident, Jack, a struggling musician, wakes in the hospital as the only person in the world who remembers the music of the Beatles (there are other small differences, but this was the main one). He begins playing the tunes in public, claiming them as his own. With the help of best friend and manager Ellie, who totally has a crush, Jack quickly skyrockets into fame as the Greatest Musician Who Ever Lived. As Jack struggles with the dark side of fame and the fears that his secret will be somehow revealed, he also comes to terms with his own identity and his place in the world. 

I felt that Yesterday had so much potential to be a unique and amazing film! Everything was there. Unfortunately, it fell short of my (perhaps too lofty) expectations. The foreshadowed conflict/action/main drama never really materialized, and there was zero chemistry between the love interests. Also, we never really learned what exactly led to the event that caused the global amnesia and why Jack alone was spared. This all felt like a huge missed opportunity. And the ending. I wanted a different ending.

The movie wasn't all bad. There were good points too. The stellar soundtrack, for one. The movie is worth it for that alone! And the plot twist where Jack receives some Sage Big-Picture Life Advice from a very surprising source made me supremely happy (no spoilers, though...but I'll let you Imagine the possibilities here). 

Overall, though, the film had a fan fiction vibe to it and the whole thing felt... kind of incomplete. I was disappointed. I just wanted MORE from something that seemed to have so much promise. But at least it wasn't yet another Batman/Spiderman/Whatever-Man Origins movie. So there's that.


Monday, September 23, 2019

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty

Some books capture the attention with a beautiful cover while others draw the reader with an intriguing plot or perhaps a prestigious award. 

Others catch you (sometimes off-guard) with a title so interesting and/or so shocking that it will haunt your imagination until you give up and read the darn book already. This was the case with Caitlin Doughty's latest.

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death is one such book. I mean, LOOK at that title!! Really THINK about it (you know you're thinking about it) and let it reeeeeeally sink in. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? With a title like this... you KNOW you have to read the book. Like, NOW! Else, that question will plague your life until you get a concrete answer.

I myself know the answer, because I devoured the book (like so many tasty morsels). But I won't give you the satisfaction of a spoiler. Because I'm that kind of librarian. HA!

Doughty is an L.A.-based mortician with her own funeral home, so she is the utmost authority on eyeball-eating pets and other such inquiries. Mostly these questions come from children, who don't seem to have the same death-aversion as do their older counterparts. For kids, the weirder, the grosser, the more bizarre, the better. And the best of the best questions are detailed here, for your morbid curiosity, inside the pages of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

This book is definitely NOT for the squeamish. Because it DOES deal in the details of decomposition. So perhaps not the best choice for mealtime reading either. But it is extremely interesting and comes highly recommended.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Stargazing, by Jen Wang

I love stories about friendships that seem magical from the first! I mean, don't even get me started on Perks of Being a Wallflower. I will gush endlessly! And I will do the same of Jen Wang's amazing and incredible new graphic novel, Stargazing.

(although Stargazing is directed more toward a Middle School audience and Wallflower is decidedly mature)

In Stargazing, we meet Christine, the eldest daughter of very conservative and strict Chinese-American parents. Christine is shy, reserved and very responsible, but a part of her wishes she could break free of that image and be more herself... or, to be exact, the version of herself she wishes to be. If only her parents would allow it. If only she could allow herselfMoon, Christine's new neighbor, is everything Christine is not: Outgoing, free-spirited, imaginative. These two opposites become best friends. They plan to participate in the school's talent show together and Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: That she has visions of magical beings who will, eventually, some to take her back to her home world somewhere among the stars.  Unfortunately, Moon's "visions" are a symptom of a brain tumor. Now it is up to Christine to be there for Moon. But cam she deal?

Stargazing dealt with so many feels-worthy subjects: Friendship, family drama, jealousy, and, of course Moon's scary health issues. But the author wove all the difficult elements into the story in such a way things never felt preachy or forced. Rather, it was just a beautiful story with wonderful characters and an equally wonderful message.

I recommend you grab Stargazing as soon it hits the shelves! You'll be so glad you did!


Friday, September 6, 2019

Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell (illus: Faith Erin Hicks)

In honor of Pumpkin Spice Season 2019, I give you Pumpkinheads, the latest literary offering from Rainbow Rowell (author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl). This seasonally fun graphic novel (illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks), is an absolute blast to read! And it most certainly did get this Summer-Loving librarian excited for Autumn. And for pumpkin spice...and apple pie...and S'mores...and kettle corn... and... Well, maybe I'm just hungry!

Anyway: It's Halloween, and best friends Deja and Josiah are wrapping up their last season ever at DeKnocks World Famous Pumpkin Patch & Autumn Jamboree. Come next fall, these two besties will have gone their separate ways to separate colleges. So Deja decides they must make the final night count! This means ditching their post and sampling all the tasty snacks DeKnocks has to offer and, most of all, helping Josiah finally talk to Marcy, the cute fudge shop girl he's been crushing on for three seasons but never had the guts to approach. As the night progresses, Deja and Josiah chase Marcy across patch and encounter petting zoo escapees, snack-snatching hooligans, evil exes, and rival employees. Will Josiah track down his crush before the patch closes for the night--and for the season? And, if he does, will the encounter be everything he hoped for?

You'll have to read the book to find out!

Pumpkinheads was such a fun adventure and I loved everything about it. The characters, the plot, the humor...and even the predictable (yet adorable) Rom-Com-worthy ending. This is one of those books that leaves you feeling happy. And I highly, highly recommend it!


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Snow, Glass, Apples, by Neil Gaiman (illus: Colleen Doran)

Firstly, a word of caution: Snow, Glass, Apples is not your average Disney fairy tail. 

Neil Gaiman, the Grand Master of Dark (and gorgeous!) Fantasy, puts a vampiric spin on the classic tale of Snow White with this beautiful graphic novel. In this version, we focus on the so-called Evil Queen...who, as we learn, may not be so evil after all.

This well-known Villain (who is not really a villain) narrates this creepy tale, telling how she came to the palace as an innocent girl who naively believed she was to have her own Happily Ever After... Until she met her new stepdaughter and learned that the girl, while impossibly beautiful, is not, in fact, the sweet and innocent princess Disney taught us to know and love. In fact, this Snow White is a bloodthirsty monster who murdered her mother and, when banished to the forest, preyed on the citizens of the kingdom. Using the classic poison apple ploy, the Queen believed she had defeated her stepdaughter. And she did...until a prince with exceptionally creepy ideals came along and foiled her plan. No spoilers, but I will say that things do not end well for the Queen. In this story, there is no Happily Ever After for anyone. Except, perhaps, the real villain. 

To me, the dark and disturbing vibe of Snow Glass Apples was, perhaps, closer to what the Grimm's Brothers were shooting for when they first penned the tale. The illustrations are haunting and beautiful, and artist Colleen Doran did an amazing job bringing the tale to life.

If you prefer your fairy tales with Happy Endings, this is not for you. But if you have a taste for the macabre, you should absolutely pick this one up! It's just as good as How to Talk to Girls At Parties or Sleeper and the Spindle (if not better).


Cat Shaming, by Pedro Andrade

Popular blogger Pedro Andrade's Dog Shaming was such a hit, he had to give props to America's other favorite household pet: The Cat.

Cat Shaming (shelf location: T636A) is hilarious as can be, and I found myself literally laughing out loud as I flipped through it. These adorable felines are accused of everything from biting and vomiting to yowling at 3 a.m. to destruction of property. Some are even Cat Burglers in the most literal sense. However, none of them look the least bit ashamed. On the contrary, their reactions range from indifferent to downright proud! In fact, the very term "Cat Shaming" is, to me, an oxymoron. Because any person who is now, or has ever been, will tell you that you can't shame a cat. Because cats are above it...ALL of it.

Still, Cat Shaming is an amusing and fun read. I've been owned by cats for more than 15 years and, I read, I related to quite a bit of the feline antics (For example, when my Luna is especially displeased, she will empty the food dish...and then Revenge Vomit the contents right in the path of the highest foot traffic. And she's not sorry either). I'd recommend this for anyone who has ever been owned by cats or just enjoys cat memes.