What I Loved #10: MORE Psychological Thrillers, Cutthroat Kitchen, and Headphone Discos

It’s been a crazy month couple months! My libraries have been busier than ever, I currently have 14 books out on my card, and I’m planning programs galore. Now that the weather is warming up I have some big plans in the works. But in the meantime, I’ve been loving a lot of stuff lately. Check it out:

What I Read

The Damned by Andrew Pyper – It starts of as a creepy, but beautiful exploration of humanity and the afterlife. Danny Orchard has made his living off of one of those “I went to heaven and came back” memoir type books. He spends his time giving talks, signing books, and attending “Afterlifers” meetings. What he usually doesn’t tell people, however, is that he didn’t come back from the afterlife alone. He brought the ghost of his psychopathic twin sister with him. And she is not happy. Andrew Pyper is a phenomenal writer – The Damned is a unique masterpiece of subtle, condensed, powerful prose. Although I usually avoid horror at all costs, I would read anything written in Pyper’s style.

silent wifeThe Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison – I just can’t stop reading psychological thrillers! The Silent Wife is a stylish literary mystery – the only novel written by recently deceased Canadian A.S.A. Harrison. Jodi and Todd have been living as husband and wife for 20 years, when Todd becomes involved with a college student and decides to leave. Jodi, a quiet but powerful psychologist, is forced to reinvent her routine…and her own character. How far will she go to protect what “belongs” to her? It may be slow for a thriller, but it is beautifully written and the characters are extremely well developed. While this thriller is far less disturbing than others (Gone Girl, The Girl On The Train, Before I Go To Sleep), the gradual sweep of inevitable dread will keep you turning pages.

The Adventures of Unemployed Man by Erich Origen – Half superhero parody, half cynical satire on society, this graphic novel will make you laugh and cringe. In an alternate universe where every citizen is a costumed hero with a unique hero name (Master of Degrees and Wonder Mother), our hero is Unemployed Man (and his trusty sidekick, Plan B). He must battle a team of truly evil supervillains including The Human Resource, Toxic Debt Blob, Pink Slip, and The Invisible Hand. This witty graphic novel will make you care and make you think.

Mamoko by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielnka is a extremely unique picture book for all ages. On the inside cover, you are introduced to all the characters. Chose one, and look for them in each detailed spread to follow their wordless story through a magical, marvellous town (where animals are people, and where emotions run strong.) It’s kind of like Where’s Waldo meets a Wordless Picture Book. I’m a huge fan.

Mamoko What’s up next for me? Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins (to celebrate Poetry Month of course), Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder, and everything else that Andrew Pyper has ever written.

What I Watched

Apollo Cinemas is a brand new theatre in Downtown Kitchener. They’ve got super plush chairs, tons of leg room…and they serve wine and beer. They also threw a sweet Oscars party that I was happy to attend. I’ve never sat through the entire awards ceremony before, but I’m glad I did. The meaningful acceptance speeches alone were worth my hours worth of attention.

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – An incredible, perception-shattering film. While it’s not the comic book adventure you might expect it to be, it is a highly entertaining and tense philosophical romp. The whole movie looks as though it has been made in one continuous shot, which works beautifully. The actor who has become world famous for his movie roles as “Birdman” decides to take his talents to Broadway for a more literary and artistic turn. Meanwhile he struggles with narcissistic actors, critics, his ex-wife, his daughter (who informs him that he’s no longer relevant without a Facebook page), and his very own ego. The movie will have you asking: How much of reality is dependent on individual perception? Beautiful, raw, surprising, and well deserving of the 2014 award for Best Picture.

cutthroatkitchenThe Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen – Reality TV isn’t really my thing. But this Hell’s Kitchen meets Survivor version of a cooking competition has me hooked. Four chefs compete in 3 rounds of timed cooking challenges to win up to $25,000. The catch is that at the beginning of each challenge they can use that money to bid on “sabotages” to play against the other chefs. Outrageous sabotages. Replacing all your opponent’s cheese with cheesies. Forcing your opponent to build all of their hand tools out of tin foil. Making your opponents share a camping element to cook their entire meal. The chefs are amazingly creative – sometimes they are able to use the sabotages to their advantage (like the chef who was forced to make his pie crust out of pop tarts).

Where I Danced

headphone discoThe Museum in downtown Kitchener knocked it out of the park again with a headphone disco party. What’s that you ask? Everyone gets headphones when they arrive. Two DJs battle it out at the front, broadcasting their jams through two channels in your headphones. No music is pumped from any speakers, so pull your headphones off and what you get is the sound of stomping feet and horrible-amazing a cappella versions of 2 different songs at once. Add in a ridiculous laser show and a bunch of dinosaur exhibits hovering over you, and you’ve got one killer party. I’ve never been to a more hilarious dance party. 10/10, would recommend.

What I Used

Poets.org is an amazing resource for hunting out specific poems, or discovering new ones. It’s run by the Academy of American Poets and provides many (completely free) services. Their Poetry Month resources are exceptional, specifically the Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day packet. I’ve been subscribed to the Poem-A-Day e-mails for a couple years now, which are excellent. But the most outstanding resource is their database of poems, and the discovery tools available. The site is designed to help people find poems based on subject matter and form. You want a sonnet about body? No problem. A Prose Poem about dreams and loneliness? Sure. Their database is a superb combination between classic poets, and up-and-comers, which is extremely unique for a poetry resource of this quality.

How are you celebrating National Poetry Month? What did you love this month?

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