2019 Reading List – Novellas, Novels, Graphic Novels, and Non-Fiction

Well, it doesn’t look like I’m going to finish any more books before the New Year, so I’m updating my official list of everything I’ve read in 2019. Scroll down if you’d like to see a few unsurprising conclusions about my own personal reading trends. (Spoilers: this isn’t the year I finally started reading a bunch of travel memoirs.) You’ll also find some favorite quotes (these spoil nothing) because I just can’t help myself. I will be posting my 2019 Book Superlatives later, maybe even tomorrow if I get my shit together, but expect those to be considerably pared down from years past.

Finally, a guide to font colors: novels are in black, novellas are in purple, comics are in green, and non-fiction is in blue.

THE 2019 READING LIST

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe – Alex White
“I thought it was best not to kill anyone, given the political ramifications. I see you’ve taken a different approach.”

A Rising Man – Abir Mukherjee
Death smells worse in the tropics. Most things do.

Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand
“What I’m saying,” Marion said, now looking right at Zoey, her gray eyes bright, “is that girls hunger. And we’re taught from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

The Only Harmless Great Thing – Brooke Bolander
“We’re scientists,” Kat says. She stands. “All we do is teach people how the sausage is made.”

The Book of M – Peng Shepherd
Who are my people, Ory? The ones I’m with or the ones I want to be?

A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark – Harry Connolly
“If I were forced to guess, I’d say they were professional killers hired to murder everyone in the house. What does that tell you?”
“You’re not as popular as I thought?”

Terminal Alliance – Jim C. Hines
“Kumar, any progress?”
“I’ve gotten through 4.5 percent of the A-ring tutorial without killing everyone.”
Mops swallowed her first three responses. “Technically, that qualifies as progress. Keep at it.”

In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire
Following the rules didn’t make you a good person, just like breaking them didn’t make you a bad one, but it could make you an invisible person and invisible people got to do as they liked.

The Mystery of The Yellow Room – Gaston Leroux
A week after the occurrence of the events I have just recounted—on the 2nd of November, to be exact—I received at my home in Paris the following telegraphic message: “Come to the Glandier by the earliest train. Bring revolvers. Friendly greetings. Rouletabille.”

The Cabin at the End of the World – Paul Tremblay
Sabrina’s fingers and hands are pink with memories of blood.

Artificial Condition – Martha Wells
I phrased it as a question, because pretending you were asking for more information was the best way to try to get the humans to realize they were doing something stupid. “So do you think there’s another reason Tlacey wants you to do this exchange in person other than . . . killing you?”

Alice Payne Arrives – Kate Heartfield
Visit 2070: It’s Not an Apocalypse. Yet. This Time.

The Black God’s Drums – P. Djèlí Clark
The night in New Orleans always got something going on, ma maman used to say—like this city don’t know how to sleep.

All the Missing Girls – Megan Miranda
Annaleise didn’t know—I always took the dare.

The Migration – Helen Marshall
Mary’s face is happy, a picture of delight. But the angel? The angel doesn’t look happy. The angel looks bored rigid by the whole mess, the angel has seen it all: the culling of firstborns, the slaughter of the innocents.
The angel doesn’t care. Mortality isn’t his bag.

Swordspoint – Ellen Kushner
“Black,” Alec said in tones of deep disgust. “Black is for grandmothers. Black is for stage villains.”

The Nine Tailors – Dorothy Sayers
“If the law had found him, the law would have hanged him, with loud applause from all good citizens. Why should we hang a perfectly decent chap for anticipating the law and doing our dirty work for us?”

The Family Plot – Cherie Priest
“Ghosts or no ghosts, we’re burning daylight. We can’t salvage ghosts. They don’t sell for shit.”

Rogue Protocol – Martha Wells
I didn’t want to see helpless humans. I’d rather see smart ones rescuing each other.

Clockwork Boys – T. Kingfisher
He had not actually been flipping a knife, because hardly anyone really did that, but he looked like the knife-flipping type.

White is For Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
Lily was a bunch of crumpled pockets and Sylvie is a black dress, perfumed scarves, iron posture and whatever else turns a person into an atmosphere.

Undead Girl Gang – Lily Anderson
“I didn’t need the spells to work. They never worked! Spells are just prayers with more steps and a name that scares people.”

Gaudy Night – Dorothy Sayers
“Are you fond of children, madam?”
“Oh, yes,” said Harriet. Actually, she did not care much about children, but one can scarcely so, bluntly, to those possessed of these blessings.

Space Opera – Catherynne M. Valente
“HEY THERE! I’m Clippy, your computer assistant. It looks like you are trying to survive the night and not get slaughtered in the next five minutes like the miserably finite mortal organics you are. *Would you like some fucking help?*”

Calculating Stars – Mary Robinette Kowal
There is something about having your legs over your head that makes you need to pee. This makes it into none of the press releases, but every single astronaut talks about it.
The men have complicated condoms and catch pouches. I have a diaper.
Two hours into our three-hour wait, I use it, sure that the urine will overflow its confines and spread up the back of my suit. It does not, but I am once again enthralled by the glamour of being an astronaut.

Record of a Spaceborn Few – Becky Chambers
A king tells us a story about who we are and why we’re great, and that story is enough to make us go kill people who tell a different story.

Magic for Liars – Sarah Gailey
A lot of words. I resolved to read them in depth later, when I could focus. When there wasn’t wine in between me and the letters.

The Killing Moon – N.K. Jemisin
“Devout men lie poorly.”

Wicked Saints – Emily A. Duncan
“Nobles are nobles,” she had said, waving a hand. “Regardless of where they come from. The pettiness of court transcends all cultural boundaries.”

The Song Is You – Megan Abbott
“Developed a conscience now, have we?”
“Well, let’s not get hysterical.”

The Thief – Megan Whalen Turner
All I wanted to do was lie in the dry grass with my feet in a ditch forever. I could be a convenient sort of milemarker, I thought. Get to the thief and you know you’re halfway to Methana.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Becky Chambers
Viewed in this way, you can never again see a tree as a single entity, despite its visual dominance. It towers. It’s impressive. But in the end, it’s a fragile endeavor that can only stand thanks to the contributions of many. We celebrate the tree that stretches to the sky, but it is the ground we should ultimately thank.

Die, Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker – Kieron Gillen + Stephanie Hans
This isn’t a conversation. This is the sort of monologue you run in your head with lovers you’ll never speak to again.

The Crimes at Black Dudley – Margery Allingham
“You don’t mind, do you? I really couldn’t bring myself to put on my clothes at the hour I usually take them off.”

The Sundial – Shirley Jackson
Gloria sat alone for a minute or so, thinking that the sun was warm and the sky was blue, and wondering if they sky would be bluer if Aunt Fanny had never been born.

The Psychology of Time Travel – Kate Mascarenhas
Grace’s complaints reminded Ruby of her own feelings about university friends. People you’d once die for take appalling paths. It’s not that they become unrecognizable. They become more like themselves. Personality quirks grow more pronounced, and so do values, until you wonder how you ever ignored the differences between you.

Jane Steele – Lyndsay Faye
Hereby do I avow that I, Jane Steele, in all my days working as a governess, never once heard ethereal cries carried to me upon the brawny shoulders of the north wind; and had I done, I should have kept silent for fear of being labelled eccentric.

Busman’s Honeymoon – Dorothy Sayers
“When I’m investigating a murder, I hate to have too much sympathy with the corpse. Personal feelings cramp the style.”

A Man Lay Dead – Ngaio Marsh
The doctor performed the feat known in Victorian nursery books as “looking grave.”

An Unkindess of Ghosts – Rivers Solomon
She expected a reprimand, but his criticism was far gentler than Giselle’s ever was. She tried not to give him too much credit for it. People were so often mean that when they weren’t there was a tendency to bestow sainthood upon them. Aster did not reward common decency with her affection.

The Invited – Jennifer McMahon
Helen did not believe in ghosts. But she believed in history.

The Twisted Ones – T. Kingfisher
This train of thought would end with me crouched in the bathroom with a shotgun aimed at the door. This would not help Bongo and also, I didn’t know how to use a shotgun.

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton
“What does a child who has everything want?”
More, just like everybody else.

One Bloody Thing After Another – Joey Comeau
The broken-arm tree is wide above them, but Ann doesn’t know that. She thinks this is a straightforward fight to the death, without symbolism.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death – Caitlin Doughty
Women’s bodies are so often under the purview of men, whether it’s our reproductive organs, our sexuality, our weight, our manner of dress. There is a freedom found in decomposition, a body rendered messy, chaotic, and wild.

The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick – Mallory O’Meara
The story starts with an alien man from a planet called Metaluna appearing to Earth’s top scientists, inviting them all to come to his cool Earth mansion. He wants them to help him work on a supersecret alien project, which of course, no scientist can turn down. As far as I can tell, the main reason to become a scientist is so you can make yourself available for these types of cinematic situations.

I Remember You: A Ghost Story – Yrsa Sigurdardóttir
Anyway, you couldn’t make demands of the sun this far north in the dead of winter; you simply took what little sunshine you were given and were grateful.

The Red House Mystery – A.A. Milne
Why, you could have knocked her over with a feather. Feathers, indeed, were a perpetual menace to Audrey.

Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths
There is nothing more annoying, thinks Ruth, than someone who thinks they don’t have to introduce themselves on the phone, who assumes that you must recognize their voice because it is so wonderfully individual.

Murder in the Crooked House – Soji Shimada
The smile that had been on the face of these cherished dolls had transmuted, decomposed. There was no better way of putting it.
A deep-seated grudge. They’d been brought into the world by the whimsy of human beings, but then not permitted to die for a thousand years. If the same thing were inflicted on our bodies, the same look of madness would appear on our faces too.

A Necessary Evil – Abir Mukherjee
His parents had named him Surendranath: it meant king of the gods; and while I could make a fair stab at the correct Bengali pronunciation, I never could get it quite right. He’d told me it wasn’t my fault. He’d said the English language just didn’t possess the right consonants—it lacked a soft ‘d,’ apparently. According to him, the English language lacked a great many things.

The Seventh Bride – T. Kingfisher
Still, none of it made any sense. If you were a murderer, would you really guard your home with birds saying, “Hi, I’m a murderer”? It lacked subtlety.

The House of Shattered Wings – Aliette de Bodard
“He’s only here because you imprisoned him. Even if he were guilty—which he’s not—it’s a horrible way to die.”
There were no good ways to die, though.

Nobody’s Sweetheart Now – Maggie Robinson
Addie was just getting used to her widowhood when Rupert inconveniently turned up six months after she had sealed him in the Compton family vault in the village churchyard.

Teen Titans: Raven – Kami Garcia + Gabriel Picolo
“I belong to myself.”

Young Avengers: Style > Substance – Kieron Gillen + Jamie McKelvie
“Come with me if you want to be awesome.”

Going over this list . . . well, it’s definitely been the Year of Mystery. A lot of Golden Age novels, of course, including finishing up Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey series, and also checking out books by other Queens of Crime, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh. Also: contemporary mysteries, historical mysteries, speculative mysteries, and speculative noir. Otherwise, I’ve primarily read my usuals: SF, fantasy, and horror. Nothing that’s going to shock anyone, I’m afraid–though much less YA than normal, for some reason or another.

2019 is an all time low for comics. I like them, but I also find I have a hard time keeping up with them. Possibly, I should buy multiple trades at once, or just wait for the inevitable omnibus? This is a problem I also have with novellas. I’m working on it.

2019 also saw a slight dip in non-fiction, dropping from 3 to 2 books a year. Alas. I seek knowledge, and yet I’m so often distracted by MURDER.

Most Read Authors: Dorothy Sayers and T. Kingfisher (3 books each). I’ve mentioned this before on social media, but I definitely have a massive writer crush on T. Kingfisher. I’ve made significant steps this year in my quest to read ALL THE WORDS she’s written. Expect this to continue into 2020.

Favorite New-To-Me Authors: Paul Tremblay, P. Djèlí Clark, and Lily Anderson

And finally . . .

FAVORITE OPENING QUOTE:

After the funeral they came back to the house, now indisputably Mrs. Halloran’s. They stood uneasily, without any certainty, in the large lovely entrance hall, and watched Mrs. Halloran go into the right wing of the house to let Mr. Halloran know that Lionel’s last rites had gone off without melodrama. Young Mrs. Halloran, looking after her mother-in-law, said without hope, “Maybe she will drop dead on the doorstep. Fancy, dear, would you like to see Granny drop dead on the doorstep?”

The Sundial – Shirley Jackson

Because, dear God, Shirley Jackson knew how to begin a story. Every opening paragraph I’ve read by her is the best opening paragraph. Fucking legend.

Honorable Mentions:

“At least he was well dressed. Black tie, tux, the works. If you’re going to get yourself killed, you may as well look your best.” – A Rising Man

When I was younger, I used to play dead. – The Migration

The whistle isn’t jaunty, not Doris Day. It’s low and slow and the actor Bob Cummings would remember its hot zing for some time. – The Song is You

The problem with your best friend dying is that there’s no one to sit with you at funerals. – Undead Girl Gang

Ann’s mother isn’t feeling so good today. – One Bloody Thing After Another

2018 Book Superlatives, Part II

Well, it’s the second week of the new year. How’s everyone feeling? My resolutions aren’t going terribly so far: I’ve made some solid writing progress, begun work on vacation plans, finally braved the hair clippers I bought months ago, and even ate some peas! (Okay, that last one sounds less than momentous, but we’re doing a vegetable challenge this year, and we’re easing our way into it.)

Enough about all that, though. It’s time for the 2018 Book Superlatives, Part II!

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The 4th (Probably 4th?) TV Quotes Challenge

So, I haven’t done a Quotes Challenge in a while. I mean, it’s practically a summer tradition, right? Don’t answer that. I’ve decided to go back to TV for today, but maybe I should try a book one sometime. Would anyone be interested in that?

If you’ve never played before, here are the rules: I’ve picked out ten TV shows and given you three quotes per show. Anytime you see the name BOB, it’s a stand-in for the character’s actual name. (Look, I can’t make it that easy.) Comment with your guesses and have fun! (If you play, Alyc, feel free to email me your guesses if the first three comments don’t succeed. I swear, I don’t know why my blog hates you so very much. I am working on it.)

Here we go!

1. “Nice try blending in, you handsome, thick-haired son of a bitch.”

“BOB doesn’t own a football, or anything else that might make him come outside.”
“That’s exactly what he said, only with less implied criticism.”

“Check this out. She said she started a new spin class, but really she’s having an affair with a guy named BOB.”
“No way.”
“Yeah. She accidentally linked her cell phone to my computer so I can see all of her texts. Today BOB copied and pasted all of the lyrics to Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover.” Which seems lazy and on the nose.”

2. “Okay, let’s just try it again. This time up the creep factor, like, a lot more, and make it a little more sincere, like you really love me but you’re going to have to kill me anyway.”

“Do you think your guns can stop God?”
“Why in the hell would God need to rob banks?”

“I’m so glad you’re back cause we’re about to die.”

3. “Well, I hope you like jagerbombs and homoerotic subtext.”

“Really? You’re gonna go with the Boy Named Sue defense, huh?”

“Well, I appreciate the pep talk, big fella, I really do, but I don’t think there’s an emoji that rightfully expresses my feelings about losing $50k a month, you know?”

4. “I tried to say ‘eff it’ today, and I blew up my whole life. I just wanted to say ‘eff this’, ‘eff you’, and I effed it, I effed it all up.”

“BOB. Gay friend.”
“Acting coach.”
“Oh, that’s . . . perfectly fine here.”
“Which one?”

“What’s wrong with your voice?”
“I have a cold.”
“Yeah, it’s one of those really bad ones that messes with your . . . syntax.”

5. “I already wrote his name in my revenge notebook.”

“You do or say anything to upset BOB and make it harder for me to keep him on the right path, I’m gonna put your head through a wall, any wall, you can pick the wall, but it’s gonna be a wall, okay?”

“What’s she like?”
“She jogs.”
“Enough said.”

6. “So, your explanation for having impossible grades is that you ‘O Captain, My Captain’-ed them?”

“I’m home. But before someone asks me to throw another shrimp on the barbie, just know I will punch you in the throat.”

“BOB, please do not fangirl over the arch-villain.”

7. “Everything’s going to change. Have a cluckity-cluck-cluck day, BOB.”

“So, you wake up in the middle of the night, you grab your Jesus Stick, and you race off into the jungle. You don’t call? You don’t write?”

“What is that? Some kind of code?”
“No, BOB, unfortunately we don’t have a code for ‘there is a man in my closet with a gun to my daughter’s head,’ although we obviously should.”

8. “You’re the most beautiful broom in a broom closet of brooms.”

“Without the treatments, we die. What are we supposed to do?”
“Die.”

“Who we are and who we need to be to survive are two very different things.”

9. “As everyone knows, vomit is not an approved lubricant for engine systems.”

“She’s not my girlfriend! She’s just a rock I met and admire very much.”

“How’s your wound?”
“My wound’s great. It’s getting bigger all the time.”

10.”So, if the compartment was locked, how did you get in?”
“I hit the lock with me shoe.”
“Your shoe seems to have the ballistic capabilities of a .38 revolver.”

“No. I mean, yes! Yes, but no, I’m supposed to ask you.”
“Well, we could all die waiting for that to happen.”

“Oh, BOB’s gone on holiday again, sir.”
“Huh. Anyone dead yet?”
“Only one so far, sir.”

The 2016 Book Superlatives (Length: EPIC)

It is time, my friends. Yesterday, I posted the list of all the books and graphic novels I’ve read in 2016, and today I will review them in my customary way: superlatives! (Clearly, a tormented piece of my soul will always be trapped in high school.)

To be upfront: the greater majority of my Book Superlatives are positive and/or silly because this is meant to be fun, and because I realized how shitty I’d feel if something I wrote ever got singled out as Worst Book Of The Year or something. However, there are some critical superlatives–Most Annoying Romance, for example–because I do look at these awards as (admittedly oddly formatted) reviews, and also because I’ve never not had multiple candidates for that particular category. I do, however, generally try to say positive things about a book even when I’m highlighting something particularly negative, which, honestly isn’t usually all that hard. There are often a number of things I like about even those novels that frustrate me: Most Annoying Romance, for instance, actually went to a book that I otherwise enjoyed quite a bit, even envied if I’m being honest, cause, damn that author can write.

If you are a published novelist who has somehow stumbled onto my little blog and don’t necessarily want to get blindsided by the possibility of seeing something negative about your novel, I totally get that: feel free to check out that link of stuff I read this year and see if any of your work is even on the table before making your decision. For anyone who is interested in reading, welcome! Today’s post will be full of super important awards like Favorite Sidekick, Chief Asshat, Book I Would Most Like To See As A Video Game, and Best Boo-Yah Moment. There will also be a list of my Top 10 Favorite Books of the Year, if that kind of thing interests you, and a list of my many, many favorite book quotes I read this year. God help me.

Shall we begin?

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Your August Movie Quotes Challenge – Revealed!

Okay, kids. Here are your answers.

1. You’re Next

youre next

“Would you just die already? This is hard enough for me.”

One of those rare movies that perfectly balances comedy with horror, You’re Next is a decent enough pick for Halloween but really ought to be watched just before Thanksgiving, or any other family reunion that you desperately don’t want to go to. Also recommended for those seeking out a Final Girl who’s actually useful, or anyone who ever wanted to see Home Alone as a slasher. This is your movie.

2. Identity

identity

“All right. You want a plan? Everybody want a plan? Here’s the plan, okay? No one’s gonna move. We’re gonna stay here, like this, in this room until dawn. No one leaves, no one moves. And if he tries anything, I’m gonna shoot him! And if there’s something out there and it comes in here, I’m gonna shoot it! And if anyone of us tries anything, I’m gonna shoot ’em!”

This is a hot mess of a movie, but I have something of a fondness for it . . . and for Ray Liotta’s semi-hysterical yet totally pragmatic strategy for not dying.

I approve, Mr. Liotta. I approve.

3. The Golden Child

golden child

“Only a man whose heart is pure can wield the knife, and only a man whose ass is narrow can get down these steps.”

I haven’t seen this in some time, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s probably more problematic than I’d care to remember, but I was a big fan of this movie when I was a kid, you know, back when I enjoyed Eddie Murphy films. It’s actually where I first saw Charles Dance, long, long before he became Tywin Lannister. Love you, Charles Dance!

4. Ant-Man

ant man

“It’s a Carbondale. It’s from 1910, made from the same steel as the Titanic.”
“Wow. Can you crack it?”
“Well here’s the thing. It doesn’t do so well with cold. You remember what that iceberg did, right?”
“Yeah, it killed DiCaprio.”

I finally watched Ant-Man, like, a week before I went to see Civil War; I’d planned to do a review of it, but honestly, I just ran out of time. Maybe someday I’ll go back and do one, but I kind of doubt it: parts of this movie were really funny (the above dialogue, for instance; also, Thomas the Tank Engine), but mostly what I remember is being annoyed on Hope van Dyne’s behalf. And I’ve got to tell you, after several seasons of wanting to strangle Kate Austen on Lost, I was not anticipating this reaction at all.

5. Lone Star

lone star

“You can’t be desperately in love when you’re fourteen years old.”

Watched this movie during my 2014 Noir Challenge. In fact, it ended up being my favorite of the bunch; it’s a really good, underrated mystery and it kills me that I never hear people talking about it. Great cast. Great dialogue. Incredibly well-crafted.

If nothing else, this movie deserved an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Damn you, Fargo. Damn you to Hell.

6. Murder, My Sweet

murder my sweet

“How would you like a swift punch on the nose?”
“I tremble at the thought of such violence.”

Another movie from my 2014 Noir Challenge, only an actual classic noir this time, not a 90’s Texan neo-noir. I’m a Humphrey Bogart fan, so I don’t know that I wasn’t expecting much from this, but Dick Powell really worked for me as Philip Marlowe. And Helen may be one of my very favorite femme fatales of all time. Also the dialogue: so many snappy comebacks and one-liners. This is just a very enjoyable little movie.

7. Dog Soldiers

dog soliders

“If we do happen to make contact, I expect nothing less than gratuitous violence from the lot of you.”

One of my very favorite werewolf movies. (Others: Ginger Snaps, An American Werewolf in London.) Kevin McKidd is great. Also, Sean Pertwee is a hell of a lot more likable than he is as Alfred on Gotham, while Liam Cunningham is considerably less likable than he is as Davos on Game of Thrones. (It’s okay. He’s supposed to be an evil dick.) This movie has got humor, action, and plenty of that good old gratuitous violence, and except for the fact that it’s one of those 10 men/1 woman movies (roughly, I didn’t actually count the men), it’s pretty awesome.

8. Singin’ in the Rain

singin

“She’s so refined. I think I’ll kill myself.”

One of my favorite musicals ever. Which I guess isn’t saying much from a girl who hasn’t even seen West Side Story (or listened to Hamilton, for that matter), but this is definitely a comfort movie for me, something I’ll put on when I’m not feeling well and just want to watch some singing, dancing, and glorious technicolor to cheer me up. (Though, for me, it’s always been more about Donald O’Connor than Gene Kelly, and definitely more about Jean Hagen than Debbie Reynolds.)

9. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

willy

“Don’t just stand there, do something!”
“Help. Police. Murder.”

Overall, I definitely prefer the original film to the remake, but there are aspects about the 2005 film that I do genuinely enjoy. (Freddie Highmore, for instance, who I definitely prefer over Peter Ostrum.) Sadly, Johnny Depp’s performance generally isn’t one of them. He certainly has moments, but on the whole it’s all about Gene Wilder for me . . . although I still have no idea WTF is up with the creepy ass tunnel scene. I mean, as an adult, it makes me laugh my ass off, but . . . like . . . WHAT?

10. Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsman

“I’m a Catholic whore, currently enjoying congress out of wedlock with my black Jewish boyfriend who works at a military abortion clinic. Hail Satan, and have a lovely afternoon, madam.”

This might have been the most obvious quote in the challenge, but . . . like . . . just look at it. It had to be used. I laughed so hard in theater.

11. The Matrix

matrix

“You’re cuter than I thought. I can see why she likes you.”
“Who?”
“Not too bright, though.”

Oh, The Matrix. Didn’t really care for the second one, never bothered to watch the third one, but the first movie was a BIG deal for me when I first saw it at, oh, 13? Came out of the theater and was like, Oooh, maybe the world isn’t REAL. (When you’re a teenager living in a very small town, this prospect probably has more appeal. I’d be considerably less excited about finding that out now.)

12. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

threesome2

“Jim, if you ask me, and you haven’t, I think this is a terrible idea.”

Finally, this is my least favorite Trek movie I’ve watched thus far, but I will admit that it’s got a handful of lines I really enjoy and one or two nice ideas. They’re just lost in a sea of plot conveniences and serious WTF. On the other hand, look at that picture. That picture is everything.

Okay, that’s a wrap for this challenge. Thanks, everyone, for playing!

It’s August and I Haven’t Done a Movie Quotes Challenge? Let’s Fix That.

It’s pretty simple, folks. I’ve selected a quote. You tell me what movie it’s from. If you see BOB in the quote, do not be fooled. BOB is my customary substitution for any character name. BOB is (probably) not in this movie.

1. “Would you just die already? This is hard enough for me.”

2. “All right. You want a plan? Everybody want a plan? Here’s the plan, okay? No one’s gonna move. We’re gonna stay here, like this, in this room until dawn. No one leaves, no one moves. And if he tries anything, I’m gonna shoot him! And if there’s something out there and it comes in here, I’m gonna shoot it! And if anyone of us tries anything, I’m gonna shoot ’em!”

3. “Only a man whose heart is pure can wield the knife, and only a man whose ass is narrow can get down these steps.”

4. “It’s a Carbondale. It’s from 1910, made from the same steel as the Titanic.”
“Wow. Can you crack it?”
“Well here’s the thing. It doesn’t do so well with cold. You remember what that iceberg did, right?”
“Yeah, it killed DiCaprio.”

5. “You can’t be desperately in love when you’re fourteen years old.”

6. “How would you like a swift punch on the nose?”
“I tremble at the thought of such violence.”

7. “If we do happen to make contact, I expect nothing less than gratuitous violence from the lot of you.”

8. “She’s so refined. I think I’ll kill myself.”

9. “Don’t just stand there, do something!”
“Help. Police. Murder.”

10. “I’m a Catholic whore, currently enjoying congress out of wedlock with my black Jewish boyfriend who works at a military abortion clinic. Hail Satan, and have a lovely afternoon, madam.”

11. “You’re cuter than I thought. I can see why she likes you.”
“Who?”
“Not too bright, though.”

12. “BOB, if you ask me, and you haven’t, I think this is a terrible idea.”

Leave your guesses in the comments section. I’ll post the answers probably Tuesday or Wednesday of next week!

And All Shall Be Revealed — Answers to the Movie Quotes Challenge

Without further ado:

1. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

rickman1

“Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!”

Everyone loves to hate on Prince of Thieves, but honestly, I totally enjoy this movie. Yes, Kevin Costner doesn’t even attempt an English accent, and it takes a special kind of arrogance to pick a famous folk hero from another country and not even try to emulate their speech. Can you imagine a movie where, say, Pecos Bill spoke with a British accent? Seriously, watch this horrifyingly inspirational clip of Tall Tales and replace Patrick Swayze with — I don’t know — Benedict Cumberbatch. (NO, THAT DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MAKE IT GOOD, INTERNET.)

Still. The supporting cast is all pretty strong. Alan Rickman plays the best villains. (Holy shit, why didn’t I think of it before? This is what Marvel needs. Alan Rickman, please call Marvel immediately — don’t you have grandchildren you want to entertain or something? That seems to be a common motivation.) I’ve always enjoyed Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Maid Marian, and Morgan Freeman gets to spend at least half the movie making fun of Kevin Costner. Come on, what’s not to like?

2. The Addams Family

addams

“My heart, it beats only for you. Listen closely. It says, ‘Gordon, I love you, Gordon, the vault.”

A couple of people guessed The Addams Family, but alas — you both specified Values, which is the second film. This quote is actually from the first movie. (Edit: kudos for Teacups, who realized the problem.) To be honest, I generally prefer the sequel (Wednesday’s at summer camp with little Harmony and the boy who grew up to kill Kelly Martin; meanwhile, Joan Cusack is a graceful, DELICATE ballerina), but I do like parts of the original movie too: the school play, the mamushka, Raul Julia’s incredibly obvious stunt double. Oh, and Little Harmony’s in this one too, only here she’s trying to sell Girl Scout cookies and make sure her lemonade is made from real lemons.

My other favorite part of this movie is the quoted line above. I’m not actually a huge fan of Fester in either film, but I do love his evil not-mom telling him that the heart wants what it wants — and what her heart wants is money. I’m sure we can all relate to that.

3. L.A. Confidential

cromwell

“Have you a valediction, boyo?”

I love this movie. Admittedly, I still don’t think Kim Basinger should have won an Oscar for it, and I’m especially flummoxed that none of her co-stars even got nominated. (It’s not that she’s so bad — it just doesn’t seem like that challenging of a role, and come on. Who’s really giving MVP to Kim Basinger over Kevin Spacey in this movie?) But I love the whole Hollywood noir thing. Actually, this movie might very well go on a list of Top Ten Favorite Noir Films, should I ever make one. (I’m not sure, though — I’d have to sit down and think about it, which is clearly too difficult for me right now. But I do know one thing: if I did make such a list, I’m pretty sure it would skew heavily to modern noir over classic — and Touch of Evil would not be anywhere near it.)

4. The Chumscrubber

chum2

“Right, so, strictly speaking, Troy was your best friend. And how do you feel about the suicide of Your Best Friend? In the world?”

So, this was my ace in the hole, the quote that I was 99.9% sure no one would ever get because, really, who’s even heard of this movie? (Actually, I had two such aces. But I have to make things a little challenging, right?) The Chumscrubber is this weird, independent, suburban dramedy thing, and it doesn’t really come together the way you need it to. There’s this whole dolphin/fate deal that just never quite works for me, and the kidnapping side plot is kind of stupid and not really helped by the fact that I don’t buy either King Douchebag or the Nice Girl in their respective parts. Also, Jason Issacs is criminally underused.

Still, there good things about The Chumscrubber: Glenn Close sweetly telling random people that she doesn’t blame them for her son’s death. Jamie Bell’s minor split from reality; also, his conversation with Close at the end of the film. And then there’s William Fichtner and Allison Janney. These two. These two need to star as the parents in every dysfunctional family dramedy from now on. (Allison Janney’s well on her way — she’s been in, like, at least three of these movies.) They are perfection.

(Oh, and if you were wondering, it’s Fichtner I’m actually quoting above. That guy is just the best. I should really watch Drive Angry again.)

5. Empire Records

e

“Stop calling me Warren! My name isn’t FUCKING Warren!”
“His name isn’t fucking Warren.”
“His name isn’t fucking Warren.”
“His name isn’t fucking Warren.”
“I thought his name was Warren.”

Man, I love this movie. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure cause, well. The whole thing is one long, ridiculous, teenage dream job anti-establishment fantasy, and it’s hard to know if I’d really like it as an adult if I hadn’t first fallen in love with it as a teenager. (It was a recommendation from a friend of mine whose opinion I didn’t entirely trust. I still feel a little bad about that for some reason.)

But the movie is also hugely quotable and funny and I love all the characters — okay, most of the characters, because who really gives a shit about Berko? But everyone else. I’m still annoyed that I can’t buy a version of “Sugar High” with Renee Zellwegger providing vocals, and a big part of me still wants to work at Empire Records, even though it’s a pretty terrible place when you think about it, because they give jobs to annoying teenagers who come in shooting real guns, and that’s not really the kind of place I’d feel very secure. Still. They have quasi-funerals for their troubled and still-living employees in the back and, hey, there’s Rex Manning Day to think of!

Hell with it. Damn the man. Save the Empire.

6. The Village

village

“Do you wonder what your color is? Well, that I won’t tell you. It’s not ladylike to speak of such things. You shouldn’t even have asked.”

A lot of people hate this movie. I can understand why, but I’m not actually one of them — I’m frustrated by The Village because there are aspects of it that I really like . . . and then there’s everything else. One of these days, I should get around to that Shyamalan retrospective. If nothing else, I feel sure I’d get comments. It would annoy one friend of mine in particular, which is always a bonus.

I do really like Bryce Dallas Howard in this movie. I think she’s great. She’s a love interest who becomes a hero, a disabled character who isn’t useless. She’s also funny, which always helps. If this movie was just her teasing the hell out of broody Joaquin Phoenix, it’d probably be a much better film. (Oh, and let’s keep Judy Greer too. When in doubt, always add Judy Greer.)

7. Detention

detention

“I make 40 G’s a year plus dental. You may NOT have a Skittle.”

My beloved crazy genre-bender. It’s not without its problems — one scene early on makes me roll my eyes pretty hard — but there’s a whole lot I love about this movie. The 90’s nostalgia. Mullet vs Ponytail. Unusual characters surviving. The awesome intertitles. “MMMBop.” The bear. Without spoilers, I can’t be more specific than that, but this movie does make me smile an awful lot. Maybe I’ll watch it this week to make myself feel better for all the bullshit’s that coming down at work right now.

8. Airplane!

airplane

“Listen, Betty. Don’t start up with your white zone shit again.”

I grew up on Airplane!, but I don’t find myself going back to it a lot. I can’t even remember the last time I actually watched the whole thing all the way through. Still, parts of it just exist in my head forever. I think my favorite bit is when the singing stewardess nearly kills the sick kid with her guitar and good cheer, but I also crack up at the white zone/red zone argument. Because of this, I pretty much always snicker whenever I hear the PA at an airport.

9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

s pilgrim

“Well, if my cathedral of cutting-edge taste holds no interest for your tragically Canadian sensibilities, then I shall be forced to grant you a swift exit from the premises . . . and a fast entrance into HELL!”

I love this movie. I love pretty much everything about it. (Well, almost. There’s one small thing that I’ve never been a huge fan of, but I generally just choose to ignore it because everything else makes me so happy.) I love all the Evil Exes — Chris Evans remains my favorite, I think, but Brandon Routh is a very close second. (“Don’t you talk to me about grammar” was another potential quote-contender.) Then there’s Kieran Culkin, Brie Larson, Ellen Wong, Alison Pill. Ramona’s ever-changing hair and giant-ass hammer. The fight scenes. The music. Nega-Scott. Earning the Power of Self-Respect.

This movie is like a geek paradise. I will always treasure it.

10. Stardust

stardust

“Hmmm. Murdered by pirates, heart torn out and eaten, meet Victoria. Can’t quite decide which sounds more fun.”

I haven’t actually watched this one in a while, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. (I know, I know. Can’t imagine why.) I really enjoy this movie, though. I’m sure it’s a pretty loose adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel, although honestly it’s been so long since I’ve read it that I barely remember what happens anymore. (Other than the ending, which I never cared for.) But I’ve always liked this movie. I love how different it feels from other fantasy films. I love the humor, Lamia, all the ghosts. In retrospect, I’m not entirely crazy about Captain Shakespeare, but pretty much everything else works for me. I’m pretty sure this was my introduction to Mark Strong, and I have adored him ever since.

Although if there is a flaw in this movie: who the hell decided that stars shouldn’t have eyebrows?

11. Maverick

mav

“I’ll kill you! You’ll be dead and I’ll be happy!”

We played poker a lot growing up; coincidentally, we also watched Maverick a lot. Happily, I still love it — I don’t harbor any particular guilt for liking Mel Gibson movies, and this is easily one of my favorites. He’s plenty enjoyable, actually — you have to like a hero who babbles whenever he gets nervous. Also, Jodie Foster is seriously playing against type, which only makes me wish she’d do more comedies. Graham Greene is just the best — Joseph might be my favorite character in the whole film — and I adore everything about James Garner. This is also the first movie I ever saw Alfred Molina in, although it would take me years to connect him to the stuffy Comte de Reynaud from Chocolat.

Poker movies always seem so serious. Maverick is just about my speed.

12. Mindhunters

jonny

“All I know is this: you don’t confront your demons and then defeat them. You confront your demons, then you confront them, then you confront them some more.”

Here is just my absolute favorite thing: I usually give these Quotes Challenges to my sister a few days before the rest of you. She tends to do well, as we watch nearly everything together, but usually there are a few she doesn’t know or can’t remember. This quote, Mekaela knew she knew but just couldn’t put her finger on, and eventually guessed Good Will Hunting. It’s a perfectly reasonable guess based on the nature of the quote. It is also so hysterically wrong because oh my GOD — that movie won Oscars; meanwhile this one has Val Kilmer, Christian Slater, LL Cool J, a veritable bevy of continuity errors, and a 25% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

I’ve written about Mindhunters before — it’s one of our very favorite, most ridiculous guilty pleasures — so all I’ll say here is that Jonny Lee Miller is probably the best part about it, despite the atrocious  Texas accent he goes for.

13. Brick

brick

“It can be hard to keep track of those things because lunch — lunch is a lot of things, lunch is difficult.”

1/2 points will be given to Pat on this one. Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t actually the person speaking here, but he is in the movie — in fact, he’s the guy Brain’s talking to. So kudos for that.

Brick would also go on my hypothetical list of Favorite Noir Movies — probably higher  than LA Confidential, actually. I enjoyed Brick the first time I saw it, but it’s one of those movies that I’ve just grown to love more and more with each and every viewing. I think it’s exquisitely well-crafted, stylish, intelligent. It might actually be my favorite Joseph Gordon-Levitt role to-date, and that’s not an easy call. (I can’t help but feel like I’m letting down all the Arthur/Eames shippers by even suggesting it.)

I’d planned to watch and review Brick last year as a reward for finishing all my other noir movies, but I never got around to it. Maybe I’ll have to squeeze it in this year. (If I ever catch up on Best Pictures Winners, anyway.)

14. The Losers

losers

“Did you know that cats can make one thousand different sounds and dogs can only make ten? Cats, man. Not to be trusted.”

The Losers is kind of a hot mess, but I still really enjoy it. Jensen is my hero. I would totally get a Petunias shirt. And Zoe Saldana rocks — Aisha is actually my favorite role of hers, I think. The movie has a great cast and awesome dialogue and probably the best use of Journey ever — it just has some balance and tonal issues. Also, a better villain would help. (Although Wade remains amazing.)

Still. Chris Evans singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” is a cherished memory. It makes me smile in the dark times. I’ll keep it in mind when I go back to work tonight.

15. In & Out

in & out

“FUCK Barbra Streisand! And you!”

Finally, I haven’t seen In & Out in a really long time, and I don’t know if the humor holds up or not. I know I absolutely did not want to see it when it first came out because I thought it’d be two hours straight of making fun of gay people. But when forced to watch the movie, I actually thought it was pretty funny and not dickish at all. I really only remember bits and pieces of it now, like Kevin Kline dancing around his house and Joan Cusack dramatically collapsing to the ground in a starving, miserable heap. I think anyone who’s ever dieted ever can appreciate that scene. Joan Cusack is the best.

Okay, that’s it for today. Thanks, everyone, for playing.

The Movie Quotes Challenge, No. Five

Happy Monday, everybody. As you’ve no doubt cleverly deduced from the header, I have a quotes challenge for you today — movies, this time. I thought I’d give TV a bit of a break. And in case you’re new here, well, it’s all pretty self-explanatory. The only thing worth mentioning is that if a character’s name comes up in dialogue, I always replace it with BOB. I can’t make it that easy for you.

Please leave your guesses in the comments. Answers will be up next week.

1. “Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!”

2. “My heartbeat, it beats only for you. Listen closely. It says, ‘BOB, I love you, BOB, the vault.”

3. “Have you a valediction, boyo?”

4. “Right, so, strictly speaking, BOB was your best friend. And how do you feel about the suicide of Your Best Friend? In the world?”

5. “Stop calling me BOB! My name isn’t FUCKING BOB!”
“His name isn’t fucking BOB.”
“His name isn’t fucking BOB.”
“His name isn’t fucking BOB.”
“I thought his name was BOB.”

6. “Do you wonder what your color is? Well, that I won’t tell you. It’s not ladylike to speak of such things. You shouldn’t even have asked.”

7. “I make 40 G’s a year plus dental. You may not have a Skittle.”

8. “Listen, BOB. Don’t start up with your white zone shit again.”

9. “Well, if my cathedral of cutting-edge taste holds no interest for your tragically Canadian sensibilities, then I shall be forced to grant you a swift exit from the premises . . . and a fast entrance into HELL!”

10. “Hmmm. Murdered by pirates, heart torn out and eaten, meet BOB. Can’t quite decide which sounds more fun.”

11. “I’ll kill you! You’ll be dead and I’ll be happy!”

12. “All I know is this: you don’t confront your demons and then defeat them. You confront your demons, then you confront them, then you confront them some more.”

13. “It can be hard to keep track of those things because lunch — lunch is a lot of things, lunch is difficult.”

14. “Did you know that cats can make one thousand different sounds and dogs can only make ten? Cats, man. Not to be trusted.”

15. “FUCK Barbra Streisand! And you!”

The 2014 Book Superlatives

I have, from time to time, considered the possibility of writing book reviews on this blog. For one reason or another, I generally resist the impulse. (More often than not, I decide that I frankly just don’t have the time.) But I’ve grown to love my yearly superlatives as a system for reviewing what I’ve read. It’s an entertaining way for me to analyze what’s working for me in a story; also, what isn’t working for me in a story, and what elements stick with me over the course of a year.

If you’re new to my superlatives, these are the rules: any book I read for the first time this year (or read again after a very, very long time) is up for consideration. I don’t care even a little about when it was actually written. Superlatives you might find herein are things like Best Opening, Book I Wish I Could Fall Into For At Least a Day, and Worst Plot Contrivance. I also have a Best Quote award, which is always the hardest to pick, so there may or may not be a ridiculously long list of honorable mentions.

I will do my very best to keep any Big Time Spoiler Awards in the Big Time Spoiler Section. Once you’re there, though, you should probably read with caution.

With that in mind, here we go!

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