* The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. This bestselling YA novel about young cancer patients is so well-researched and fleshed-out that I was certain it was autobiographical (which it isn't). That in itself is an accomplishment. Though I'm usually not fond of YA novels, this one I liked a lot. The story is moving and the writing is at its finest. A beautiful, touching novel that is not to be missed. The Fault In Our Stars is now in development to be a Hollywood movie. Looking at the cast (Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort), we might end up with a Disney-style flick that would be an insult to the intelligence of the novel. Available at: Amazon / B&N
* Dangled Carat by Hilary Grossman. I first came into contact with Hilary Grossman when I posted a photo of her cat, Alex, on Traveling Cats. When she informed me two months later that she had written a memoir about how she convinced her commitment-phobic boyfriend to commit with the help of his family and friends, I couldn't help but feel curious. However, I did have some reserve. You see, Hilary is a blogger, and most bloggers don't make good writers. Still, Hilary surprised me from page one. Dangled Carat is cute, honest, sexy, and highly addictive. Every woman who has ever felt self-conscious in a relationship will love this book. Also, don't be fooled by the term 'memoir', because Dangled Carat reads like a novel, with lots of dialogue and action-reaction scenes. If you are interested in winning an autographed copy as well as a $25 Victoria Secret gift card, and a Sandi Rose CD, then scroll down to the bottom of this post to see all the ways in which you can participate. Available at: Amazon / B&N
* A Big Little Life: A Memoir Of A Joyful Dog Named Trixie by Dean Koontz. Though A Big Little Life is basically a memoir of author Dean Koontz' Golden Retriever, Trixie, it can also be read as Dean's autobiography. I learned many interesting facts about the author, such as how his wife, Gerda, supported him financially for several years, even when his breakthrough took much longer than expected. A Big Little Life works because Dean has such a sweet and generous personality, and because his love for Trixie leaps off the page. Fun fact: Even before I read it, A Big Little Life played an important part in my decision to write the memoirs of my cat, Avalon. I doubted I could add a cat story to my bibliography of supernatural thrillers, but if Dean Koontz could do it, so can I. Available at: Amazon / B&N
* Cat Getting Out Of A Bag And Other Stories by Jeffrey Brown. I immediately fell in love with this book containing black and white drawings about cats in recognizable situations. Great as a gift. Available at Amazon / B&N
* Shadow People. Considering the amount of reactions on my shadow people post, I guess most of you will be interested in this creepy movie based on the true story of a radio host's encounter with these supernatural creatures. While Shadow People was far from flawless and mostly by-the-numbers, I did enjoy it quite a bit, especially the creepy atmosphere and the juxtaposition of real-life footage and filmed rendition. Not an outstanding horror film, but definitely worth a watch. Available at Amazon / B&N
* And Soon The Darkness. Two American girls embark on a hiking trip through France and come into contact with a serial killer. The film from 1970 has earned cult status. Not sure why, because it lacks in suspense and story. Available at: Amazon
* Jennifer's Body. A beautiful teenager (Megan Fox) returns from the dead as an incubus, and starts eating all the boys from school. I expected Jennifer's Body to be a disaster, but it is actually better written than most horror movies (the screenwriter is Diablo Cody, from Juno), and it never fails to entertain. The silly humor and one-liners ruin most of the movie's potential though. Available at: Amazon / B&N
* Piranhaconda. An anaconda with the head of a piranha eats all the humans that cross its path. Impossible to expect a masterpiece with such a premise. Still, it's a fun flick, similar to many others in the giant animal genre.
* Say Anything. This film has nothing of the eighties kitsch that characterizes many other romantic movies of the era. The director opts for a realistic approach, but because the characters' reactions are phony and the story superficial, Say Anything misses to either touch or entertain. Available at: Amazon / B&N
* Mannequin. A mannequin (Kim Cattrall) comes to life by night and falls in love with her creator (Andrew McCarthy). This slapstick was one of my favorite movies as a teenager. Though I still know the movie by heart, I actually forgot how silly Mannequin really is. Only to be watched out of nostalgia. Available at: Amazon / B&N
*Disconnect. The film follows a group of people who feel emotionally disconnected despite being non-stop connected through technologies. The film starts out strong and knows how to build momentum. Unfortunately, the resolution is predictable and overly dramatic. Overall a likeable film despite its shortcomings. Available at: Amazon / B&N
* Murderer / The Yellow Sea. Violent and intelligent Korean movie in the vein of Old Boy and The Chaser. A cab driver meets a hitman who promises to repay his debt, just for one hit. When he arrives at the scene, however, someone else is already doing the job for him. What follows is a chase in which both the hitman and the murdered guy's acquaintances are on his heels. Available at: Amazon / B&N
* Wavelength. Rather cool sci-fi movie from 1983 in which a young couple helps three aliens (read: bald children) escape from a laboratory. The story is paper thin, and the actors surprisingly bad. The B-movie atmosphere and Tangerine Dream's music, however, make Wavelength a fun genre treat. Available at: Amazon
* Wrong Turn part four: Bloody Beginnings. An abandoned hospital. A snow storm. Cannibals. There are worse subjects for a horror movie. This fourth installment of the Wrong Turn series was a fun and gruesome watch with lots of blood, torture and decapitations. But some things just can't be forgiven, such as the cannibals' fake-looking make-up, and the ridiculous humor that includes a cannibal choking on a piece of human flesh. I mean, really? Available at: Amazon / B&N
* Dexter season eight. The very last season of Dexter was exactly what it should be: compelling, unpredictable, dramatic, and touching. Loved this series from start to finish. A favorite. Available at: Amazon / B&N
* Under The Dome. Yay, it's finished. No more cardboard characters, silly plot twists, and pink stars. Do I get a certificate for sitting through this? Available at: Amazon / B&N
Some of the CDs I've been listening to lately are: Angelo Badalamenti's musical score for The Stendhal Syndrome (my favorite soundtrack ever), Anastasis by Dead Can Dance, The Dusted Sessions by Date Palms, and Engravings by Forest Swords.
Also went to concerts of Piano Interrupted (a lot like Einaudi; mostly engaging, sometimes boring), Bersarin Quartett (even better than their concert a few months ago) and Julianna Barwick (angelic, monotonous) at the Feeërieën in Brussels.
What have you been reading, watching and listening to lately?