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News-Sentinel staffers share the memorable books, shows, movies of the year

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Posted: Friday, January 27, 2012 7:53 am

What we read

V.C. Andrews — “My Sweet Audrina” is a 1982 novel that was the only standalone novel published during Andrews’ lifetime. Its a murder mystery book with a few dark themes but I love mystery books.

Sara Shepard books — “The Lying Game” (series) “Pretty Little Liars” (series) The books are much different from the ABC family shows by the same name but they are a fascinating read that combines romance, murder,  the “whodunit” aspect and suspense all in one and they keep you guessing till the end.

— Haley Pitto, copy editor

This has been a year of a lot of reading, but the best new book I’ve read is Stephen King’s “Under the Dome.” It’s a couple years old now but it was new to me. Fantastically written, a story you can’s stop reading and an antagonist you will hate with every ounce of your being.

— Dan Evans, chief photographer

If there was one series that could top “Harry Potter,” it would be “The Hunger Games.” A brilliant look at a post-apocalyptic America, this triology could make anyone at any age think, “What would you do to survive?”

A brutal but brilliant look into the life of one of the greatest visionaries in recent history, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs opened our eyes to a man who in the spotlight portrayed one side of himself, but behind closed doors was something different entirely.

— Katie Nelson, cops and courts reporter

What we listened to 

Moldy oldies — nothing beats ’60s and ’70s music, especially the Beatles, but also the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, James Taylor and ’60s British Invasion music.

The San Francisco Giants. Great team chemistry and a lot of fun to watch and listen to them play.

— Ross Farrow, county reporter and religion editor

I listened to a lot of She & Him (Volumes 1 and 2, plus their Christmas album). You may know Zooey Deschanel from the big screen, but she has a band, too, and her voice is classic and always soothing.

— Lauren Nelson, Lodi Living Editor

Plumb — suprisingly I had never heard of this singer until one of her songs was featured on the CW. Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, who uses the stage name Plumb, is a Contemporary Christian singer-songwriter who has produced six albums. Her music is a mix of piano and vocals and the songs sound more like poems or private journal entries than anything. I think that’s why I like them so much, they are raw and full of emotion.

— Haley Pitto

The ’80s on Pandora. Since I got my iPhone earlier this year, that is all I listen to while I’m taking my evening walks around the block.

After discovering KLove radio has stations in various cities, I have chosen to play it while taking various road trips throughout the year.

— Pam Bauserman, Panorama Editor

This has been the year of rap and hip-hop for me. It’s been a mix if Lil’ Wayne’s “Tha Carter IV,” Kreayshawn’s “Kreayshawn X The Bay” and Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now.”

Never have I loved a band as much as I loved Blink-182 in their early days and prime. But they left a sour taste in my mouth with their self-titled album. Then they broke up. But this year they came back strong with their first album in eight years, “Neighborhoods.” The Blink of old is gone but at least they are better than their last outting.

— Dan Evans

Four words: 

“Florence and the Machine.” This band rocks my socks off on a near daily basis. 

— Maggie Creamer, city hall reporter

Never has a band been so honest with their music than the folk-rock and very talented Mumford and Sons. Brutally baring it all in each track, they brought back the gut-wrenching soul that has been lost with the pop princesses of today. Never has a banjo and a bass been so good for music.

Blink-182 came back in full force this year with their new album, “Neighborhoods.” I couldn’t have been happier to revisit my middle-school youth years.

Three words: “The Black Keys.” Their newest album debuted in December, and if you had to describe the band, you would never be able to find anything negative to say about their blues meets rock ‘n’ roll mix.

— Katie Nelson

What we watched

I’m a Game Show Network fanatic. One of the new shows I enjoy is a show called “Baggage,” hosted by Jerry Springer. It’s a dating show, but contestants reveal really weird stuff about themselves. As Jerry Springer says on his show, “We all have baggage.”

Other Game Show Network fare, such as the new version of “The Newlywed Game,” “Lingo” and “Card Sharks.” And in December, they brought back the old black-and-white versions of “What’s My Line” and “I’ve Got a Secret” between midnight and 1 a.m. The black-and-whites are fun to watch because it brings back how differently people dressed, talked and acted circa 1960. As “What’s My Line” host John Daly would say to a female contestant, “Is it ... Miss or Mrs. Smith?”

— Ross Farrow

For the first time, ever, I signed up for cable. I may have become slightly hooked on shows like “The Rachel Zoe Project,” “American Pickers,” “Cupcake Wars,” “Chopped,” “Work of Art” and “Weeds.”

— Lauren Nelson

I love cooking shows and reality TV is a guilty pleasure. I found myself watching a lot of Food Network shows, like “Private Chefs Beverly Hills,” “Cake Boss” and “Paula Deen” (who doesn’t love deep fried butter y’all?). As for reality TV “Keeping up with the Kardashians” on E! became an obsession alongside (I can’t believe I’m admitting this in the paper) “Jersey Shore” on MTV. Who doesn’t love cat fights and people making complete fools out of themselves?

“American Horror Story” on FX was perhaps one of the most original series of the year. It put a spin on old-fashioned horror movies by streching the storyline into a full weekly show. The storyline, actors and dialogue were so well thought out that every episode is exciting and looked forward to. I can honestly say this show never had a dull moment when there were twists and turns around every corner.

— Haley Pitto

I love watching shows centered on things I wish I were good at. My favorites this year were “Glee” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”

— Sara Jane Pohlman, education reporter

The “Twillight” movies. I’m not much of a fan of vampire movies but loved these. Who knew? I can’t wait to see the third.

Always a singing fanatic, I’m still addicted to “American Idol.” I never miss an episode.

— Pamerla Bauserman

If there is one television show I watched this year that I would recommend everyone watch, it’s “Breaking Bad.” Brian Cranston, the dad from Malcolm in the Middle, plays a high school chemistry teacher who takes a second job to give his family extra money when he is diagnosed with lung cancer. Did I mention his second job is cooking meth?

Is there a way to properly describe this indie flick from across the pond? No. No there isn’t. At its core “Bunny and the Bull” is the story of two friends taking a road trip across Europe after Stephen Turnbull, the main character, is put in the “friend zone” by the love of his life. What follows is a surreal journey through memories of the road trip. “Bunny and the Bull” should be watched for the art design if nothing else.

— Dan Evans

I’m a sucker for reality shows, and this year, I have recently become obsessed with “American Pickers,” “Pawn Stars” and “Storage Wars.” I love seeing the old items they find in storage lockers, barns and places where I would like to try my hand at some major rummaging. 

I’ve also started watching the series, “Party Down” on Netflix, a hilarious comedy with Jane Lynch about actors that moved to L.A. and ended up as caterers.  While I’m behind on Season 2, “Walking Dead” is definitely a must. As someone who has probably only seen one zombie movie, I found myself oddly enthralled and obsessed with this AMC drama on the undead.  

As far as movies, I recently watched “My Idiot Brother,”  a wonderful comedy starring a ton of famous folks who show that even dysfunctional families can come together. 

— Maggie Creamer

Movies-wise, I can officially say I was not blown away by “Harry Potter” or by any of the Marvel movies. It was “Super 8” that did it for me this summer. That and the re-release of “The Lion King” in 3-D. I spent a good chunk of my paycheck watching those movies over and over again in theaters.

As for television, I found myself falling in love with FX and their shows. “American Horror Story” was by far one of the most original shows this year. Way to bring back a show that will make your skin crawl in a new and creative way. “The League,” which hit my radar while it was in its third season, touched on everything else I love in this world — football, football and football. A tummy-hugging, hilarious look at fantasy football and the passion that drives five friends to beat each other for the coveted “Shiva.”

— Katie Nelson, cops and courts reporter



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