Thursday, March 1, 2018

February Wrap-Up

In addition to everything I have listed below, I'd also like to report that I completed one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2018, which was to eat a vegetarian diet for an entire month! It was actually way easier than I thought and I had very few moments when I missed eating meat (and that meat was usually fish, because I love sushi). Although I did have to eat more snacks throughout the day (some dried fruit, a handful of nuts, etc.) to keep up my energy, I wasn't as hungry as I thought I would be. I really enjoyed the challenge and I'm sure I'll eat vegetarian meals more often in the future.

Books I Read

Artemis by Andy Weir


I really enjoyed The Martian, so I was expecting to like this one way more than I did. Artemis has basically everything The Martian has (super sarcastic humor, high-stakes survival situations, in-depth description of science-y stuff that's still interesting, sci-fi that feels realistic, etc.), except The Martian did it better. I felt like Jazz, our protagonist, was the perfect example of a female protagonist written by a man who's never written a female protagonist before. I didn't connect with her. I didn't even realize she was an adult until her age was mentioned because she read as being really immature. If you haven't read Andy Weir before, though, start with this one. Every Martian fan I've talked to said they would have liked Artemis better if they'd read it first.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway


I LOVED THIS. Every since the book was recommended for fans of This Is Us, I knew I had to pick it up. It made me tear up so many times and the writing was gorgeous and full of voice. I loved all the characters and their storylines, so when we switched from one perspective to the next, I never had that "oh no, now I need to read about this person now" moment that happens sometimes in books with multiple POVs. It focuses on families and siblings and the intricacies of adoption and every topic was covered so well. If you're in the mood for a contemporary, make this one your next read.

Dancing Skeletons by Katherine A. Dettwyler


I had to read this for my Intro to Anthropology class and it surpassed my expectations. It's always nice when you can actually enjoy an assigned book rather than trudging through it just to finish the homework. Though I wasn't a fan of the writing at all (it had a nice storytelling quality, I guess, but it read as being super simplistic), the experience the author had were fascinating. I was especially interested by the reasons why certain cultures did genital mutilation since the reasons varied even from one town to the next.

On Writing by Stephen King


I really should have read this years ago considering how many writers sing its praises, but I only got around to it now. I really enjoyed it! It was funny, had a ton of great and applicable advice (not just for writing, but for life, too), and taught me a lot about Stephen King I hadn't known about before. It took me a while to get through the beginning, though. The snippets from his life seemed to be all over the place and not too connected. I didn't get what he was trying to do until the end. But the middle was a gold mine of wisdom.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown


The best part about this book was by far the symbols and hidden meanings in various works of art. You would think that the action-packed adventure storylines would be the most entertaining, but I actually liked the chapters that dealt with deciphering codes and analyzing paintings most. The adventure became something more like a nice bonus. Overall, the plot was what made it worth reading, because otherwise, the book didn't have much going for it. The characters were flat, the writing was awful (not even just okay--it was truly terrible), and the foreshadowing wasn't so much foreshadowing as it was the author hitting you over the head with a random piece of information you knew was bound to show up later. The book as a whole could've benefited from a lot more editing, too, since cutting several thousand words would have tightened the novel up and made it read faster.

Movies I Watched

"Roman Holiday"


I'd only ever seen Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady," so I really liked getting to see her in a role that's pretty much the opposite of Eliza Doolittle (Eliza is a common girl learning how to be a high society lady and Ann is a princess learning how to let loose and live a common life). Though the acting in this movie tended to be a little over the top, the characters were enjoyable and entertaining. The story is fairly simple, but there was a lot of humor, which I wasn't necessarily expecting, so it was a nice bonus. I won't give anything away, but the ending went in a direction I didn't anticipate. I'm glad it did, though, since my guess at what the conclusion would be wasn't nearly as interesting as what it actually was. Some may not find it satisfying, but personally, I liked it.



The characters were quirky and lovable, the soundtrack was great, and the story was largely driven by a simple plot. It had all the makings of a great Indie movie, even if parts of it were predictable in a more mainstream way.

"Black Panther"


Oh man, this did not disappoint. Marvel has struggled recently to put out movies with a lot of heart, well-developed characters, and a fantastic story, but "Black Panther" turned all of that around. Not only was it racially diverse, but the positions the women held were diverse, too. They all had their own sets of morals, goals, and personalities. It tackled a lot of important ethical dilemmas we face nowadays and didn't provide a clear answer, which I appreciated, since there's some gray area in those issues. The cast killed it, too. I loved it.

Quotes I Wrote

I'm in that editing stage now where everything I rewrite seems to be even worse than was I'd written before, so . . . nothing to report.

Obsessions I Acquired

The "Anastasia" soundtrack -  My current favorite song from "Anastasia" is "In a Crowd of Thousands (although I also really like "Learn to Do It," "We'll Go From There," and "Crossing a Bridge").

Pictures of the Month 

Our family went to see Paula Poundstone do stand-up and she spent time doing autographs and taking pictures with the fans. She was hilarious.
A celebratory dinner after I got inducted into my community college's honor society.

The obligatory Scout picture.

How was your February?


Jimmy said...

Oh man you nailed it with the Da Vinci Code. One of the worst books I've ever read. It was a gift, too, so I was all excited about getting it. So overrated. So poorly written. And they turned it into a movie? BTW there's a traveling Da Vinci exhibit here in Albuquerque. Your family should all come see it.

Juno was likeable. Haven't seen any of the other movies you've seen. We did rent Wonder last weekend. It was nice. The ending was cool. But Julia Roberts and that guy who played her husband didn't work for me. Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant worked for me.

I'd kind of forgotten about Paula Poundstone. Was her comedy kind of political?

The Magic Violinist said...


I went in with pretty realistic expectations, but it still wasn't as great as I thought it'd be. At least it was a gift instead of a book you spent your own money on? I'd love to see a Da Vinci exhibit!

I assume you're talking about "Notting Hill," and if so, I loved that movie! I remember it being really funny.

She had a little bit of political comedy, but honestly, most of her stand-up was improvised. She worked off the crowd and made the most mundane topics hysterical.

Dr. Mark said...

Another great recap. Sometimes I forget all the things we've done until you and your brother do the monthly posts. I read On Writing so long ago I can't remember many details, but I do remember thinking it was a 4/5 read. And Da Vinci Code had more impact when it first came out, but after having read it a second time, I agree with you. Great plot. Good pacing overall. Poor writing. Ultimately too long.

I enjoyed seeing "Black Panther" with you. I had so many of the very same thoughts. I just need to see it again so I can take more of it in.

Sasha Zatz said...

It's so great that u went veggie for a month. If it was easy, keep it up. Society is messed up if we think a meal is worth a life! Also, try going vegan. It gets easier after a while and there are so many vegan options. I even have a vegan cheese that tastes just like the real thing. Also, the things they do in the dairy industry are so awful.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Dr. Mark

Sometimes I barely remember what we did the past month until I look at the notes I took to write the post. :P Shows how busy we are.

Glad we read it, but yeah, I think we all had pretty fair assessments of the book overall. I'm also glad we opted for the abridged audio towards the end.

It should be even better the second time!


There are so many excellent alternatives nowadays to meat-based products! I was surprised how much we were able to make. I think everybody should try some stretch of time as a vegetarian/vegan as an experiment, because it's definitely a lot easier than people think.

Boquinha said...

Great recap! You should definitely tell LMW about Far From the Tree! That sounds so good!

Also, these posts are fun for me to see things I'm watching/reading with you, too, so thanks for that. :) It was fun to do the vegetarian challenge with you and Max as well. Woot! Woot!

The Magic Violinist said...


Good idea! I bet she'd love it.

Yeah, it was a lot of fun, even if it was challenging sometimes. :)