I've finished two books this month so far, Caroline Erikkson's The Missing and Stephenie Meyer's The Chemist. I'll post reviews of both over on book-blog.com at the end of the month, and probably reblog here.
So, I finally finished watching The Following. On the one hand, it was certainly good enough to watch, but on the other, I really had to suspend my disbelief more than usual. How many times must Ryan Hardy go rogue when it's clearly dangerous and stupid to do so? Frankly, I was shocked at one point toward the end of the series when he actually included some other law enforcement in his plans. And the show seemed odd in its focus. Season one made sense, as it's centered on serial killer Joe Carroll. Season two was weird and less satisfying. And in season three the focus was quite scattered. I don't think the series could have sustained another season. After all, how many psycho serial killers in a row could reasonably be obsessed with killing the same guy? I also didn't love the show's final scene. One thing I did like was how Ryan and Joe's relationship sometimes turned into a cute (albeit one-sided) buddy movie thing. On those occasions you could see something of Joe's allure, which was not obvious earlier in the series, even though loads of people clearly were attracted to him for some reason.
Sully, unsurprisingly, was very good. I was surprised by the non-linear storytelling, and was briefly worried that we'd be cheated out of seeing the crash, but we're not. Tom Hanks is always great.
Brain Trust is the new stand-alone thriller by authors Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore, and I think it may be my favorite of theirs to date. The book tells the related stories of two characters. Maggie Hayden is the widowed mother of a math prodigy who's been having problems at school since his father's death. Maggie's life seems to be falling apart until a too-good-to-be-true job offer from out of the blue solves her financial and her son's social difficulties. She relocates to a planned community founded by her new employer, Reichert Pharmaceuticals. The other lead character is Brian Wheeler, who also works for Reichert, and who begins to suspect early on in the book that the company is up to no good. ...
So, I watched Sex Lies and Videotape. After hearing the title for so many years I thought the movie surprisingly uninteresting. But maybe it was shocking in its day. What's really disturbing, though, is the picture of Andie MacDowell on the movie cover, because it looks like it's going to be a story about a psychotic killer drag queen (hello, Dressed to Kill).
The Following. I'm enjoying this Kevin Bacon series, though I don't like watching it alone in the house at night on the treadmill with earbuds in for some reason.
Or not reading, as it turns out. I was reading Blake Crouch's Abandon, but at 35% of the way in, I've decided to, well, abandon it. It's not bad, it's just that I'm still not connecting with the story or the characters. I don't particularly like old west stories, either. It's become a chore to read, and life is too short. That said, do give his Wayward Pines books a go.
So I spent about two months working through the Esperanto course on Duolingo, and I fell in love with the language. I've got some books en route now from Esperanto USA,* and I'm very happily reading a (non-official, because there is, alas, no official) Esperanto translation of the first book of Harry Potter, Hari Potter kaj la Ŝtono de la Saĝuloj. I'm almost finished with the first chapter. You can download the translation here. (Clicking that link will automatically download it to your computer.) I am, of course, a beginner (komencanto), but I think Esperanto is a wonderful language, and one that children should be taught as a second language, both to promote international communication and because it would serve well as a "gateway" language, making subsequent languages easier to learn. If nothing else, it would give them a leg up on SAT preparation because of its largely Latinate vocabulary. If you have any interest at all in learning it, do take a look at the course on Duolingo, which makes learning languages fun. You'll find Esperanto easier to learn than other, natural languages because it was designed to be simpler, with absolutely regular grammar. And it's fascinating because of the way that words are built in the language, through the agglutination of roots and affixes. For example, while reading Harry Potter in Esperanto I was very excited to see the word liphararo, which turns out to be a collection (the suffix -ar-) of lip (lip-) hair (har-), i.e., a moustache. You can suss out what a lot of words mean just by knowing the affixes.
My friend Clare sent me a copy of Real Chester, her hot-off-the-presses travelogue about the city of Chester in England. It's a fascinating place, its Roman walls enclosing a space in which historical strata are piled on top of one another, where the modern abuts the ancient and medieval in a living city. The amount of history you can trip over in Chester is astounding. This is a place where you can see Roman ruins in the closet of a clothing store if you know to ask about them at the counter.
The book isn't available on Amazon.com, yet, but you can pick up a copy from Amazon.co.uk.