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[sticky post] Reading List / Movie List 2018

Standard rules apply: Bold means I loved it, italicized means I really liked it, plain text indicates good to just okay, and strikethrough means it was awful. Titles link to my Goodreads reviews.

* = reread or rewatch. [NF] =nonfiction

January (8)
1. These Shallow Graves - Jennifer Donnelly. 488 pg/2015. [1/1]
2. Junk: Digging Through America's Love Affair with Stuff [NF] - Alison Stewart. 304 pg/2016. [1/2]
3. Snow Bound - Harry Fox Mazer. 144 pg/1973. [1/18]
4. The House - Christina Lauren. 384 pg/2015. [1/23]
5. True Valor - Dee Henderson. 352 pg/2002. [1/26]
6. The Masked Truth - Kelley Armstrong. 341 pg/2015. [1/26]
7. Things I'm Seeing Without You - Peter Bognanni. 332 pg/2017. [1/27]
8. The Cloud Chamber - Joyce Maynard. 274 pg/2005. [1/30]

February (12)
9. Even When You Lie to Me - Jessica Alcott. 352 pg/2015. [2/11]
10. Terror at Bottle Creek - Watt Key. 224 pg/2016. [2/17]
11. These Healing Hills - Ann H. Gabhart. 361 pg/2017. [2/17]
12. Shane - Jack Schaefer. 150 pg/1949. [2/18]
13. Swampfire - Patricia Cecil Haas. 187 pg/1973. [2/18]
14. Too Shattered for Mending - Peter Brown Hoffmeister. 384 pg/2017. [2/20]
15. The Lake House - Kate Morton. 495 pg/2015. [2/21]
16. The Devil You Know - Trish Doller. 256 pg/2015. [2/23]
17. Crimson Peak (movie novelization) - Nancy Holder. 352 pg/2015. [2/24]
18. Chasing Sunsets - Karen Kingsbury. 412 pg/2015. [2/26]
19. Rancher Under Fire - Vickie Donoghue. [2/27]
20. Brush of Wings - Karen Kingsbury. 326 pg/2016. [2/28]

March (12)
21. The Raft - S.A. Bodeen. 233 pg/2012. [3/7]
22. Heart Like Mine - Maggie McGinnis. 354 pg/2016. [3/11]
23. The Mountain Between Us - Charles Martin. 330 pg/2010. [3/13]
24. The Ghost at Kimball Hill - Marie Blizard. 185 pg/1956. [3/16]
25. When Crickets Cry - Charles Martin. 352 pg/2006. [3/18]
26. The Woman in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware. 352 pg/2016. [3/19]
27. Listen to Me - Hannah Pittard. 191 pg/2016. [3/21]
28. A New Penny - Bianca Bradbury. 188 pg/1971. [3/22]
29. The Lying Game - Ruth Ware. 370 pg/2017. [3/27]
30. Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer - Katie Alender. 294 pg/2013. [3/28]
31. Me and my Mona Lisa Smile - Sheila Hayes. 116 pg/1981. [3/30]
32. Hatter Fox - Marilyn Harris. 256 pg/1973. [3/31]

April (8)
33. To Take a Dare - Crescent Dragonwagon/Paul Zindel. 249 pg/1982. [4/1]
34. Vanished - Mary McGary Morris . 256 pg/1988. [4/1]
35. Thunder and Rain - Charles Martin. 368 pg/2006. [4/2]
36. Before the Fall - Nick Hawley. 391 pg/2016. [4/3]
37. The Perfect Nanny - Leila Slimani. 228 pg/2018. [4/9]
38. The Girl Before - J.P. Delaney. 368 pg/2017. [4/14]
39. To All My Fans, With Love, From Sylvie - Ellen Conford. 192 pg/1982. [4/15]
40. Everything You Want Me To Be - Mindy Mejia. 337 pg/2017. [4/30]

May (9)
41. The Dog Year - Ann Wertz Garvin. 320 pg/2014. [5/7]
42. Be Good Be Real Be Crazy - Chelsey Philpot. [5/11]
43. This is the Story of You - Beth Kephart. [5/11]
44. A Little in Love - Susan Fletcher. 288 pg/2014. [5/14]
45. Losing Gemma - Katy Gardner. [5/18]
46. Adrift - Paul Griffin. 240 pg/2015. [5/19]
47. Uncharted - Tracey Garvis-Graves. 132 pg/2013. [5/20]
48. Keeping Watch [NF] - Kathryn Sletto. [5/25]
49. The English Boys - Julia Thomas. 329 pg/2016. [5/26]

June (10)
50. Life in Outer Space - Melissa Keil. [6/5]
51. Everything Must Go - Fanny Fran Davis. [6/14]
52. Like Mandarin - Kirsten Hubbard. 388 pg/2011. [6/16]
53. Going Geek - Charlotte Huang. 294 pg/2016. [6/16]
54. The Broken Girls - Simone St. James. 336 pg/2018. [6/18]
55. Heart-Shaped Hack - Tracey Garvis-Graves. 336 pg/2015. [6/19]
56. Shine Shine Shine - Lydia Netzer. 309 pg/2012. [6/20]
57. Sixteen: Short Stories By Outstanding Writers for Young Adults. ed. Donald R. Gallo. 162 pg/1984. [6/24]
58. Learning to Stay - Erin Celello. 352 pg/2013. [6/26]
59. White-Hot Hack - Tracey Garvis-Graves. 320 pg/2016. [6/29]

July (7)
60. A & L Do Summer - Jan Blazanin. 274 pg/2011. [7/1]
61. The Assassin Game - Kirsty McKay. 325 pg/2015. [7/10]
62. We Are Still Tornadoes - Michael Kun & Susan Mullen. 304 pg/2016. [7/17]
63. Nothing - Annie Barrows. 212 pg/2017. [7/22]
64. The Memory Book - Lara Avery. 360 pg/2015. [7/26]
65. The Fate of Mercy Alban - Wendy Webb. 344 pg/2013. [7/28]
66. Kindess for Weakness - Shawn Goodman. 272 pg/2013. [7/29]

August (5)
* 67. Make Lemonade - Virginia Euwer Wolff. 208 pg/1993. [8/15]
68. Rated PG - Virginia Euwer Wolff. 214 pg/1981. [8/21]
* 69. True Believer - Virginia Euwer Wolff. [8/23]
70. Someone Else's Love Story - Joshilyn Jackson. 320 pg/2013. [8/24]
* 71. In The Stone Circle - Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. 225 pg/1998. [8/26]

September
72. This Full House - Virginia Euwer Wolff. [9/1]
73. Driftwood Tides - Gina Holmes. 347 pg/2014. [9/3]
74. Blue Voyage - Diana Renn. 453 pg/2015. [9/22]

October
75. Girl Online - Zoe Sugg  346 pg/2014. [10/16]
* 76. Wilderness Peril - Thomas J. Dygard. 198 pg/1985. [10/16]

----------------
MOVIES
January
1. Empire State, 2013, R, 1:34 [1/19]
Did not realize it was based on a true story; way less zany action stakes than expected and more spotlight on grubby people who hang w/ gang members, but a serviceable vehicle through which to admire Liam Hemsworth's handsome face in the role of an upstanding young gentleman who just wants to provide for his hardworking parents.

2. The Shallows, 2016, PG-13, 1:26 [1/19]
Good for what it is: mainly a vehicle for admiring the location and Blake Lively's natural beauty, with a side of hurt/comfort where you admire the girl for having to provide all her own care and comfort (also she helps an injured seagull, so that's awesome). It's even believable until the shark goes completely insane and become bent on eating a metal buoy to get to her.

3. El Orfanato (The Orphanage), 2007, R, 1:37 [1/19]
The historic manor and grounds are beautiful, and while I came here to be terrified (and at times I was -- spooky ghost child! in clownish sack mask), I ultimately came away from this overflowing with a sense of "My emotions! My! Emotions!"

4. The Case for Christ, 2017, PG, 1:53
[1/31]
Imagine being such a tool that you're threatened by the very notion of your wife finding peace and comfort in religion instead of being a Sensible Atheist. But bless Mike Vogel for being in this. I am pretty sure you don't agree to star in a "Pure Flix" production without being on roughly the same side, and bad wig and all, I very much enjoyed every second of his face as well as the overall triumph of religion in the end, even if theirs veers a bit to the treacly, over-showy evangelical side.

February
* 5. Miracles From Heaven, 2016, PG, 1:49 [2/16]
Still a national treasure.

6. Money Monster, 2016, R for some odd reason, 1:38 [2/17]
Decent action movie with some adrenaline spikes and a nice cast, but there's really only so much you can do with a hostage situation, you know? Even if you take it to the streets. This looks like a movie that was maybe more fun to be in than watch. The best parts were the dancers on the title show and Julia Roberts doing anything.

7. A Heavenly Christmas, 2016, PG, 1:30 [2/22]
What is EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER WANTED IN ROMANCE AND ADOPTIVE DAUGHTER RAISING.

8. Jesse Stone: Night Passage. 2006, PG-13, 1:29 [2/23]
Britt Robertson is in it (for about 8 minutes), and for some reason I suffered the whole thing instead of just her parts. Soooo dullll, even with a Bloodhound included.

* 9. Made of Honor, 2008, PG-13 [2/24]
Basically the exact same feelings as before. (scroll up a tick)

10. Just My Luck, 2006, PG-13 [2/25]
A silly-cute movie from that beautiful time when Lindsay Lohan was not yet a trainwreck, though Samaire Armstrong steals the show.

March
11. The Strangers, 2008, PG-13, 1:25 [3/1]
This movie has so much potential, and instead it opts for 8 parts "boring nothingness" to 1 part JUMPSCARE! with no actual consequences until the last 5-10 minutes, resulting in a feeling of something like indigestion as you spend the entire movie waiting in sickening dread.

12. Would You Rather, 2012, (PG-13? R?). 1:33 [3/5]
What a dreadfully grim, gruesome (if not super explicitly gory) and awful stomach-churning thing to sit through. This reminds me of how I felt after "Don't Breathe," but worse. SOMEONE HELP ME MY TASTE IN HORROR MOVIES IS DYING. The worst part is I can't stop running my fandoms through this AU.

13. Autumn in New York, PG-13, 2000, 1:44 [3/6]
Ah, a palate cleanser! Yep. That is just about exactly the age-mismatched, handsome dude, bright-n-shiny young thing who changes his life + hurt/comfort mashup I came for.

14. Brooklyn, PG-13, 2015, 1:51 [3/17]
What an incredibly wonderful feel-good movie, except for a gross scene that pushes the boundaries of its rating, and most of the last third, where it feels incredibly bad and everyone has heart attacks of stress worried it will be the wrong ending.

15. The Strangers: Prey at Night, 2018, R, 1:25 [3/20]
This almost literally could not be further on the spectrum of quality from its predecessor. EVERYTHING I HOPED FOR AND MORE.

16. The Moment, 2014, (PG-13? R?), 1:30 [3/24]
Is this is a good movie? I have no idea. The first ten minutes were pretty tedious/awful and suggested it would not be. But then Martin Henderson showed up and spent this entire movie being AMAZING, with Marianne Jean-Baptiste picking up the slack and Ali Shawkat filling in a couple of remaining gaps, and I about lost my voice from muted screaming and hurt my hand slapping it against the desk too many times in joy, so.

April
17. The Outsider, 2002, R [4/5]
My patience for Amish customs has worn real thin, which drags this movie down despite being an integral part of the plot, but OH BOY it is also Tim Daly doing and being everything I love in the shippy hurt/comfort zone so. I am pretty over the moon about its existence.

18. Detroit, 2017, R, 2:23 [4/15]
Perhaps watching while sick with flu was not the wisest choice, but this just seemed like a lot of shouty unpleasantness with dumb and/or awful people that took an entire hour for anything to happen. The only people I had any tolerance for were John Boyega, who still underwhelmed, and the two girls in their cute 60s outfits, one of whom is my beloved Kaitlyn Dever.

19. A Quiet Place, 2018, PG-13 [4/22]
HNNNNNNNGH "PEAK DREAMY KRASINSKI IN PEAK SOULFUL DEVOTED PROTECTIVE DAD [AND HUSBAND] MODE" AT ALL TIMES INDEED. I've unconsciously wanted this for years. It is like all the reasons I wanted Away We Go to be good so badly, but actually good and improved by nine thousand percent in every conceivable way. I don't know what to do my whole brain is crying. (p.s. Emily Blunt is also amazing. The kids are pretty good too. The script is great. The directing and scoring are amazing. EVERYTHING IS GREAT, and you know how much I hate the introduction of aliens into anything.)

20. Gifted, 2017, PG-13, 1:41 [4/29]
I know you did not write an entire movie just to get footage of Chris Evans and an adorable quasi-daughter crying their eyes out over being separated and/or for the inevitable tearful apologies and reunion hugging, but damned if this script was not just a great excuse for exactly that. And also a bunch more cuddliness. With bonus unexpected cat!!

May
21. Two Weeks Notice, PG-13, 2002 [5/5]
Do you KNOW what kind of sucker I am for "Girl Friday becomes indispensable to somewhat oblivious egomaniac boss until they accidentally fall in love, but don't realize it until conflict drives them apart and being away from each other makes them miserable"?? Also the casting is on fire.

22. Shark Night 3D, 2011, PG-13, 1:30 [5/18]
I showed up for Katharine McPhee in something cheesy and entertaining, and what I got was a stomach-churningly awful movie about snuff films that no one who even slightly loves Katharine McPhee should see.

June
23. The Boy, 2016, PG-13, 1:37 [6/2]
The premise looked ridiculously cheesy and OTT, but then it showed up on my screen with an amazing opening sequence and a score by by Bear McCreary and I was like "yeah, okay," and ultimately was very satisfied with both the creep factor and the beautiful-old-manor factor.

July
24. The Beguiled, 2017, R, 1:33 [7/16]
A slow but pretty film, and I mean the cast as well as the house & scenery. I haven't seen enough of the original to compare as a whole, but man, Colin Farrell is absolutely an improvement on the male lead. You want "charming fox in the henhouse," who else would you even call? The women and girls are also awesome in every age group.

* 25. The House Bunny, 2008, PG-13, 1:37 [7/18]
The first ten minutes are pretty dicey, but...omg I love it so much it is so cute and sweet and full of awesome ladies being awesome.

* 26. In My Dreams, 2014, PG, 1:34 [7/25]
The script, it's terrible. Remember what I said last time?? BUT I LOVE ITS LEADS' FACES SO MUCH I CAN NO LONGER BE OBJECTIVE HARDLY AT ALL. Look at them! Acting! Acting out a romance novel, even if it is the grocery store variety! This movie is the true love of my dreams.

27. The Hollars, 2016, PG-13, 1:28 [7/29]
Oh man. This is an emotional cyclone that puts you through the wringer before it's done. This indie dramedy lives up to its classification and is basically a heavy family saga (taking place over the course of approx. 1 week) with random moments of levity and optimism, sometimes in a whiplash-y manner. But I still fell for this typical suburban family immediately, was impressed by the collection of fantastic actors -- including a A level John Krasinski/Anna Kendrick pairing and Unexpected Josh Groban -- and friggin' bawled at a particularly emotional scene between John & his pregnant girlfriend, whch is not the only place I cried. But it was so worth it. That's it, I am trusting Director John Krasinski now and forever.

August
28. Pitch Perfect 3, 2017, PG-13, 1:34 [8/12]
I absolutely cannot accept it as a canon. But it is decent as a cracked-out AU of poorly paced insanity, I guess. It still has some good music, Beca's cute and Chloe's cuter. Please do not make another.

29. Victoria & Abdul, 2017, PG-13, 1:55 [8/15]
A fascinating story, though this particular telling of it seemed a little...far-fetched, which is to say borderline absurd in its pursuit of comedy and over-the-top exaggeration of Abdul's giddy saintliness (adorable though he is) and the Queen's indulgence of him. At times the secondhand embarrassment was simply too much to bear, and you could tell they leaned pretty hard on the last word of their "based on true events...mostly" disclaimer. Though the mustache-twirling racism of all the other Brits may not have been far off the mark.

30. The Meg, 2018, PG-13, 1:53 [8/21] (Dean Georgaris made me see this and I'm not sorry)
Yeah, that was definitely a shark movie...not quite as good as the dinosaurs I missed earlier this summer, but still pretty good & chompy. Lots of false endings, which was great. But the best and most unexpected part was Surly Musclebound Action Hero Jason Statham bonding with an adoring 8-year-old girl. Like a big angry bulldog being smitten with a kitten, as well as her mother.

31. In The Heart of the Sea, 2015, PG-13, 2:03 [8/24]
While I'm doing sea monster movies...this would have been great to see on the big screen. The present day scenes dragged, but the rest was surprisingly epic for a movie that glamorizes stabbing gentle giants to death (kinda makes you root for the violent giant tbh). Not even Tom Holland's lately overexposed face bothered me.

* 32. Erin Brockovich, 2000, R, 2:10 [8/25]
I totally forgot this movie was rated R for language and loaded with F bombs, but no matter. This is has been one of my favorite movies almost since it came out, and while it has been over 10 years since I've seen it, it's as incredible as ever.

September
33. Wait Till Helen Comes, 2016, PG, 1:27 [9/1]
Nothing astounding, as it's meant for the same age range as the (super mega awesome children's) book, but a nice little spooky tale and I am so happy it exists. Plus, the author has a small role as the librarian!

34. Southbound, 2015, R, 1:29 [9/12]
Absolutely the most boring and incomprehensible nonsense I have ever seen in the horror genre, and I have seen some bad ones. I fast forwarded at least half and it was still too long. EXPLAIN YOUR STORIES OR GET OUT.

35. Demonic, 2015, R, 1:23 [9/19]
AN ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING AMALGAMATION OF TRUE CRIME AND HORROR. With a side terror of abandoned mansion! It was well done but also rattled me so bad I woke up unsettled. (side note, why am I spookening myself a whole month early)

36. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, 2018, PG-13, 2:10 [9/30]
Why is this movie so sad -- and yet, still so amazing??

October
37. God Knows Where I Am, 2016, 1:40 [10/15]
JESUS TAKE ME HOME. I had no idea what was happening when PBS lured me in with cool wintry shots of an abandoned farmhouse, but that was mesmerizing and haunting and utterly, absolutely heartbreaking. (and occasionally irritating when people spoke... so... .... slowly and made Dramatic Pauses, or the journal reader got REALLY over the top in her voices, or whoever was in charge of setting up certain scenes got way too gleeful about their own Super Artsy and Meaningful still life shots. I GET IT. THERE WERE APPLES.). I kept trying to guess where it was going, drumming up ways this could be structured as a novel, if it were not a true story, in various genres depending on the reason for her death.

[extra rambling I will probably move to its own post eventually]Also, as if the story wasn't sad enough, I just confirmed that the gorgeous 19th century farmhouse has been razed and the 21-acre estate has OF COURSE been subdivided for a fugly-ass housing developtment. Sure, I thought about living there for 2 seconds and concluded I would definitely always feel like it was haunted, but still. I wish at least one of the children who last grew up there had been in a position to keep it (and yes, I am making this documentary about the tragic death of a mentally ill woman about real estate, because that is how I do). I suppose it probably either cost too much to maintain or needed too much work, but you know how sentimental I get about this stuff.

I think another reason this story gutted me so much is that, like... I cannot imagine starving to death (and for five weeks! especially when malnourished for weeks before that!), but from cold/exposure? This would not be the worst way for me to die, alone and out of sight in a beautiful old country house that has apparently been forgotten, journal at my side. Like, that is me. I don't know how to explain that, because I'm crying right now thinking about it and I don't wanna get too Thirteen Reasons Why on you in my movie list post -- but I am afraid of roughly 632 possible manners of death, with "cancer in old age" near the very top in part due to its high odds, and this does not make the list. It would be upsetting, but also feel...right, in its sheer tragedy. (OK, now I am being Dramatique in a way I have not been since probably college; please ignore me.)



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