2021, books, movies, roundup, video games

roundup: february 2021

This month SUCKED. I’m losing hope in my job search. Taxes for 2020 were a nightmare. I still have no idea when I’ll be vaccinated, so I’m feeling extremely stuck in every part of my life.

Books Read

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (technically a January read, I finished it after I posted the previous roundup)
    • Why isn’t this taught in schools?! It is a dystopia that should be required reading along with 1984 and Brave New World! It takes place in the near future where climate change has caused society to collapse and follows a young Black girl named Lauren. I think the first half or so was stronger than the rest when it became something more like The Road, but I really couldn’t stop thinking about this book.
  • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
  • Ripley’s Underground by Patricia Highsmith
    • I didn’t like this one much. It didn’t have nearly as much tension as the first one. I thought Ripley’s schemes weren’t as good this time. The other characters were terrible. Not a fan.
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
    • The second book in the Shadow and Bone series still hasn’t wowed me. I almost bumped this up half a star because Nikolai is the best character, and I can’t wait for more of him, but I still don’t care about Alina and Mal! Even the Darkling isn’t as interesting as I was led to believe! The story was repetitive and boring.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
    • I finally caught up on Sword & Laser’s 2020 picks! Unfortunately, I might be in a little book slump because I didn’t really like this one. There’s nothing wrong with it. I think there was some personal things surrounding this book (iykyk) which skewed some perceptions for me, and I don’t read a lot of middle grade/children’s books anymore. I didn’t care much for Howl. I felt Sophie was a little hard to root for too. I loved Calcifer and Michael best. I thought the climax happened too fast, and I just didn’t connect. I’m going to check out the film since I’ve heard it’s different, but I’m a meh here.
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
    • Hello, would you like to read a Romeo & Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai between a Russian Romeo (Roma) and a Chinese Juliet (Juliette)? Oh, and these former lovers team up to hunt a monster attacking their city. This was truly a unique twist on the classic tale, and I enjoyed it so much! I will say that it is a little slow, there’s is a lot going on, and the villain’s motivations didn’t feel like they made sense, but I highly recommend checking this out. The supporting characters were wonderful, and I couldn’t get enough of Roma and Juliette’s romance.
  • The Aeneid by Virgil
    • I am forever going to try to read as many classics as possible. Even if I struggle with them. I remember reading a section of this in high school, and now I’ve read the whole thing! I really do like stories told in verse, but with my brain fog lately, it was hard to connect to the story.

Movies Watched

  • Princess Mononoke
    • My second Studio Ghibli film! I liked this one way more than I did Spirited Away! I thought the animation was gorgeous, but it was kind of a more violent Ferngully (’90s kids, where you at?).
  • One Night in Miami…
    • What a directorial debut for Regina King! An incredible film with some outstanding performances. It’s based on a play and to be honest, I wish I had been able to see it on stage. I love plays like this, but the expansion of scenes and backgrounds for the film was extremely well-done. There’s nothing more I can say about Leslie Odom Jr. that hasn’t already been said, but as a Sam Cooke fan, I did like seeing how one of his songs was created (and Leslie’s voice is perfect). Kingsley Ben-Adir is also great as Malcom X, but to be honest, I didn’t care for any of the “characters” except for Jim Brown played by Aldis Hodge (a forever fave). Hodge gives my favorite performance in the movie, but it’s much quieter so he’s sadly not getting much attention.
  • The BFG
    • Roald Dahl’s The BFG was one of my favorite books as a kid. I had always meant to see the adaptation, but never got around to doing so until now. I thought it was decent. It definitely captured the relationship between Sophie and the BFG, which made me very happy. John Williams’ score was pure magic as always. But as with most children’s movie, I hate reliance on fart jokes which happens here. And I always have criticisms of Spielberg with his movies being too long and too overreliant on special effects, but I was surprised by how much I did enjoy the film since I didn’t think it was well-received.
  • Soul

Video Games Played

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this here, but I am not really a gamer. Yes, I had a Gameboy and N64, but I loved playing racing games more than anything else. And then, I got the Wii and WiiU mostly for Disney Infinity (RIP). I’ve played the LEGO games but I need every cheat imaginable to get through them, which is a bit embarrassing!

Anyway, last year when the first lockdown was enacted, I stress-purchased a Switch Lite to get Animal Crossing. I still play that, but it never fully captured me like it did others. I enjoy it because it’s relatively quiet, and I can move at my own pace (which makes me a weirdo because I don’t obsessively check turnip prices or force the game to move faster by time-traveling and such).

Since I am very much online, I kept hearing people talk about a game called Hades. I love Greek mythology, so this intrigued me a lot. On Black Friday, I found a deal (and had some Nintendo Rewards!), so I bought the game! And despite me not being a gamer, I love it. It’s weird because usually I hate failing in life and games (hence the cheats!), but for some reason, I LOVE dying in Hades. You’re never starting back at the very beginning, you’re always learning and figuring out more of the story each time you wind up back in front Hades.

Since I’m unemployed, I have more time to play and I’ve gotten pretty far recently! It took me until January to finally beat Meg (on January 6th, no less. I had a lot of rage that day), and now I’ve made it to Elysium! It’s really a mix of luck and the boons, but I’m having so much fun just mashing buttons together. My favorite weapon is the Twin Fists, my least favorite is the gun (if you know me, this actually tracks real well with my personality). I’m enjoying all the bits of mythology thrown in. It’s just extremely well-made and I can’t get enough.

Also, I refused to do God Mode, which is probably why I took so long to get past Meg, but I’m more proud of myself for doing it the real way. This was much longer than I expected to write about, but it has honestly been cathartic to play it, reach a certain point, die, and get to start again. If only my life was at that point now…

What did you enjoy in February?

#disneydare, pixar

#disneydare: soul (2020)

Oh, how naive I was when writing my Onward post last March pretty much on the same day Covid became way more of a scary thing. I had no idea that the movie industry would completely shut down, leaving studios to reschedule or find other ways to show their films. Like Disney did with Soul, putting it on Disney+ Christmas Day. Unfortunately for me, when things are put on streaming services, I’m not always inclined to watch it right away as it’s not like it’s going anywhere! This is a flaw on me. Anyway, to the movie!

Soul Poster.jpeg

Thoughts: At D23 Expo 2019 when this film was really announced, it resonated with me. I believe I said, “Oh cool, now Pixar wants us all to have existential crises.” And I think I was mostly right!

Continue reading “#disneydare: soul (2020)”
#dcomchallenge

#dcomchallenge: the color of friendship (2000)

The Color of Friendship.jpg

Synopsis: In 1977, Piper Dellums (Shadia Simmons) convinces her congressman father to allow an exchange student to live with them. They are overjoyed to hear it’s a girl from South Africa, but things become difficult when Mahree Bok (Lindsey Haun) turns out to be white.

Thoughts: So, I really thought I had seen this movie. I was wrong. I must have only seen some parts of it, mostly the “fun” parts where Piper and Mahree are hanging out. Bad past Gillian.

Anyway, I am very impressed with the subject matter this DCOM put out there. To introduce apartheid to such a young audience was pretty groundbreaking for 2000. Some of it did feel a little too “We need to educate everyone”, but it worked because of the cast.

I think I was more interested in the adults storyline, involving Piper’s dad, Ron (Carl Lumbly, who I LOVE), and her mom Roscoe (Penny Johnson). The initial reluctance to let Mahree stay with them, but then changing their minds because it would only reinforce her wrong beliefs was great to see. I think some of the racial issues within America at that time period were glossed over, but I also may just be furious with how racial issues are still a big thing TODAY, and that’s why it got to me.

And I honestly didn’t know it was based on a true story! I just can’t believe how I didn’t watch this movie in full as a kid. My one complaint is that for a movie set in the ’70s, there was only one scene with a classic ’70s song, “Sing a Song” by Earth, Wind, & Fire. A good song, but I needed more.

Finally, a content warning: the n-word *is* said at one point. Disney+ did not edit it, and while I flinched, I’m glad it’s there because it was necessary to get the point across. Seriously, well done Disney for this production.

read

read: empire of storms by sarah j. maas

Here we are, book 5!

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)

With Erawan getting bolder, Aelin is determined to find allies to protect against him and reclaim her birthright. Meanwhile, in Morath, Manon becomes increasingly worried about her position and protection of the Thirteen. Also, Elide teams up with Lorcan to try to find Celaena/Aelin.

Terrible spoiler-free synopsis, I’m sorry. I joked a lot going into this one because I knew Chaol was absent and therefore, it was going to lose half a star. It wound losing the other half for reasons I’ll explain below!

Continue reading “read: empire of storms by sarah j. maas”
2021, books, movies, roundup, television

roundup: january 2021

I’m still trying to get back into the swing of blogging and writing reviews, but my brain hasn’t really been cooperating. So, in an effort to keep you informed of what I read, watched, listened to, etc. I’ll start doing roundup posts!

Books Read

  • Finder by Suzanne Palmer
    • The Sword & Laser pick from October that I finally got to read! I love newer sci-fi because it’s fast-paced and interesting. This one had a lot of humor, which I also appreciated.
  • Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston
    • A lovely fairy-tale with an interesting world and magic, as well as fantastic characters with Cerys and Fox. I very much enjoyed this one, even if it’s a little on the simple side.
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
    • I’m reading Grishaverse out of order since I read Six of Crows years ago. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as taken by this one. It felt very generic YA fantasy, and I didn’t care much for Alina. Something was missing for me.
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
    • I saw the movie years ago and wanted to see how it compares. I liked it because it’s a somewhat creepy character study, and it has some very tense moments.

Movies Watched

  • The Shawshank Redemption
    • I hadn’t seen this movie before but some friends planned a movie night and I gladly joined! It isn’t what I expected at all, and I found it extremely moving.
  • Sound of Metal
    • I adore Riz Ahmed and hope this pushes him further into the spotlight. This is such a great movie about a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing. What’s great is how they treat this storyline and make it inclusive to everyone with captions and the sound design is phenomenal to make you hear what he hears. It reminded me a bit of The Wrestler, which sounds weird, but that’s how I felt!
  • Wonder Woman 1984
    • Oof. Now, the first Wonder Woman is the best thing the DCEU has put out, but the third act is a mess. The sequel was essentially the third act of the first movie for two and a half hours. But more than that, it was boring. Diana was terrible. Chris Pine couldn’t keep me interested. So disappointing.

TV Shows Watched

The Wilds on Amazon Prime is a great show that’s like a female Lord of the Flies/Lost. The mystery of the island is definitely intriguing, but it’s these teenage girls who really make the show. I really connected to the sadness and rage of being a teenage girl and seeing how they can survive on this island.

What did you enjoy in January?

#dcomchallenge

#dcomchallenge: up, up and away (2000)

UpUpandAwayfilm.jpg

Synopsis: Scott Marshall (Michael J. Pagan) is from a family of superheroes and is expected to get his own powers by his 14th birthday. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to happen, but he gets tangled up with a greedy CEO who wants to hurt his family.

Thoughts: If I remember correctly, I didn’t watch this movie when it first aired because it looked cheesy. And I was correct! It’s funny because I love Sky High and superhero movies in general (I know, what a shock!).

This essentially follows the typical superhero family trope. One kid doesn’t seem to have powers, and it causes tension. So, it’s a cliche story, but that doesn’t make it bad. The cast was very charming, and it has a good underlying message of “You don’t have to be super to save the day”.

What was a little muddled was the villains’ intentions. There’s this company called Earth Protect that was trying to get kids more involved in saving the environment. Which is fantastic! But through the software, they were able to hypnotize the students, and one of them, Malcolm, (a pre-Entourage Kevin Connolly), wants to use this technology to steal money instead. And then, steal the Marshall family’s powers? Again, muddled!

So, all in all, it’s not bad. But I was correct in my assumptions as a youngster to skip it.

marvel, phase four, television

phase four: wandavision (disney+)

Well, I did not expect it to be this long without Marvel content on my blog. And it’s not the order things were supposed to go, but I have missed the MCU so much! It’s one of the greatest joys in my life, and I don’t care how sad that makes me sound!

WandaVision logo.png

So, here we go, the first REAL MCU offering on television (I love you Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, but you know). I have been pumped since I saw the little teaser at 2019’s D23 Expo along with the cast announcements. It looked so weird and interesting. Spoilers under the cut though they’re more MCU than show, but I will post some theories based on castings.

Continue reading “phase four: wandavision (disney+)”
life

what a week

You know how people struggle with writing the new year for a few days/week? It takes a while to train our brain to switch over. For some reason, on January 1st, my hand immediately wrote out “2021”. My brain has been in that mindset for a while, and it took no time for me to change.

Except for Tuesday. I received some upsetting (but not surprising) personal news. That night while journaling, I wrote “2020”. Because it FELT like 2020 again. Even with the Georgia senate race looking good, I had somehow fallen back into the 2020 despair.

Then, on Wednesday, it went even further. I never expected to see a coup attempt happen in the United States on live television. It was horrifying, especially as no one seems to have been truly punished for their treasonous actions. And we all know why it happened that way, and it’s disgusting.

It’s been hard to reconcile the issues I’m dealing with personally along with everything that’s happening outside. But mostly I keep coming back to, it was a traumatic event and we all process trauma differently. Just because someone is choosing not to engage doesn’t mean they don’t care that it happened. They just are processing it in their own way. The fact that we STILL are struggling with empathy after 2020 is ridiculous.

Yesterday was a better day for me personally, but still not great for our country. January has not been a great month for me the past few years, but I’m not going to write off 2021 just yet.