Trailers You Might Have Missed … (Dec 28-Jan 3)

Just in case you are one of the lovely people who visits my blogs to get their fill of trailers only, I wish you all a happy new year! (I don’t think I actually said that in any of my posts these past days yet … I was too busy talking about 2020. Only TWO more posts about that dreaded year to come and then I will move on too).

I am afraid there’s once again not very many new trailers, seems like companies didn’t feel like banking on people’s attention between the years. Here’s what I found anyway.

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My Top 10 Movies of 2020

Let’s be real, I could probably name more movies than just ten for this list, but with the TV show posts being so extensive, I wanted to make sure you didn’t have to endlessly scroll through all these rankings. Even though I haven’t been to a cinema since January 2019 due to obvious reasons, I still watched a whole lot more films than usually.

Again, to clarify, not all the movies that you will find on this list were released in 2020. That’s just the year I watched them in. You are also very welcome to follow me on letterboxd to stay up to date with what I am watching!

10. Late Night

Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, a whole writer’s room full of dudes who need to be taught that the world doesn’t revolve around them – I love to see it. Literally adored this.

Also adored the director’s other work The High Note, which also deals with women lifting women up in the workplace and that’s just the way it is supposed to be.

9. The Photograph

It’s a simple romance, mostly set by the music and aesthetics. Technically, it’s two stories put together, which sometimes works better and sometimes not so much. LaKeith and Issa have amazing chemistry, but I also loved the discussion of parental love here.

8. Palm Springs

This is a crazy movie filled with quantum theory and shenanigans. I can see it being a bit much for some people, but I had a grand time. It’s just pure weird fun!

7. Knives Out

I’ve legit watched this movie about ten times now and I have no regrets. I still love the casting, I still love the twists, I even came to terms with Marta’s ridiculous condition. It’s a murder mystery to my liking and I am glad they are doing a sort of series for the detective character.

6. Love and Monsters

Dylan O’Brien will forever be an amazing argument for me to watch a movie, but I did not expect just how much fun I would have with it. Yes, the real star is the dog, but that’s okay too.

5. Soul

This movie – it was so beautiful. The animation was gorgeous and the message was inspirational and the scenes were emotional. I teared up for sure! Also – the music! (But again, please stop transforming black characters into blobs or frogs or other animals for the majority of a movie.)

4. The Half of It

I fell for this movie so hard, I don’t even have words. Alice Wu, the director, told a very personal story here and had beautiful symbolism incorporated in her storytelling. Also, loved the friendship love in this one.

3. Uncle Frank

My heart. This movie was sad and complex and funny and well paced. The characters were amazing and once again, it shows that stories that are personal to the people involved can translate just so well to the screen. I wish everyone had a Wally in their lives!

2. The Broken Hearts Gallery

This is now one of my favourite RomComs of all time. It’s that fun and good and sweet. More of this please!!!

1. Little Women

Okay, this was the last movie I had seen in cinemas and I still remember the experience so vividly. For a lot of teen girls in the audience (and believe me when I say the room was packed – what a concept!) this was their first encounter with the material and they laughed and gasped and cried in unison and mirrored all my feelings and this movie has such a place in my heart now.

Honorable Mentions

Okay, this is now a fixture in all my posts anyway, cause I can never contain myself. Not that anyone thought I could to begin with. Here’s some more movies I liked:

  • Happiest Season
  • Banana Split
  • Clouds
  • Enola Holmes
  • Safety
  • Godmothered
  • Uncorked

What did you think of my picks? I feel like this was all very on brand for me. Did they make sense to you? What are movies that were your absolute treasure of 2020?

My Top 20 (ongoing) TV Shows of 2020

Yesterday I gave you my thoughts on the 10 best books I read in 2020, but we all know that the topic I really can’t stop talking about are TV shows. So, not only am I giving you a list of my top 20 shows, I actually split it up in two categories – new and ongoing shows. (The post for the new shows will be up in a couple days, but tomorrow is movie ranking day!) I simply could not contain myself.

I am aware that the phrasing “ongoing shows” might be a bit misleading, which is why I want to clarify what I mean. I included all shows that released before 2020 in this list! That means, they may only have one season that aired previous to that year, but they also might have had their series finale in 2020. Ongoing here doesn’t necessarily mean it is still airing now or that they released follow-up seasons during the last year. Hope that made sense!

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My Top 10 Books of 2020

I do these rankings every year and I enjoy them so much as a kind of closing ritual for the old year. I have no idea if you are even interested in my thoughts on all this stuff, especially since I am not certain I even know how to describe my thoughts sometimes, but I hope you still enjoy this series of lists and rankings in the upcoming days as well!

First things first, not all the books I will mention were 2020 releases. I managed to read 40 books, which is a great feat for me, but I don’t even know if there had been that many new releases among them to fill a list. Either way, let’s get started.

**Click on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads**

10. Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)

I am fully aware that not everyone likes this series and I am perfectly fine with that. I just adored the twisted nature and the religious aspects of it. I would never claim that it is perfect, but it spoke to certain elements I enjoy in a series. Maybe it does say something though that I put the first book on this list and not its sequel Ruthless Gods … I was not happy with all developments there.

Click HERE for the review!

9. Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn/David Levithan

Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily

The original Dash and Lily book has always been a “childhood” favourite of mine. I don’t remember when exactly I read it, but I had such good memories of it regardless. With the Netflix adaptation emerging and me enjoying it a whole lot, I finally decided to pick up the sequels. At first, I didn’t have the best of times with Twelve Days of Dash & Lily, but with this part, I really felt for the characters again. Especially the topic of being disappointed by the things you had always envisioned for yourself as well as some really good anxiety rep warmed my heart with relatability.

Click HERE for the review!

8. Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)

When this sequel was first announced, I wasn’t sure if it was strictly necessary? I thought Dear Martin was a perfectly fine standalone book, but with Nic Stone’s explanation for the sequel and the fact that I had the privilege of reading it ahead of its release quickly changed my mind. Dear Justyce is perfectly capable of standing on its own and was a great addition in Stone’s bibliography. Also, it will forever be just a very timely book.

Click HERE for the review!

7. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1)

Adult romance books were never really my kind of genre, especially not the smutty ones. I am not trying to put shade on those books at all, I just personally never really cared for the physical descriptions etc. Nevertheless, I had such a fun time and cannot wait to continue with the romantic adventures of the Brown sisters. Talia Hibbert has created an array of amazing characters here.

Click HERE for the review!

6. This Is Not a Ghost Story by Andrea Portes

This Is Not a Ghost Story

This Is Not a Ghost Story was a last minute addition to the list. Earlier this year, I had actually read a similar-ish book (Watch Over Me at least felt akin in vibes now that I had time to think about it some more – what is it with me and ghosts this year?) but this one felt like an overall better experience. It was funny, creepy and still made you think. I am still not 100% on board with the end, but that’s life.

Click HERE for the review!

5. Anna K by Jenny Lee

Anna K: A Love Story (Anna K, #1)

Me, the person who has never read or watched any Anna Karenina related content, loved this book. I really was so very tempted to seek out some more about the source material. I just do like my modern day retellings, I suppose.

Click HERE for the review!

4. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet Cute

Tweet Cute was easily one of the cutest and sweetest books I read in 2020. I do enjoy a good online rivalry, lots of talks of food (especially grilled cheese) and the You’ve Got Mail vibes this presented. Maybe not the deepest of stories, but that’s not always what I want and/or need in a good read anyway (because it entirely depends on my mood).

Click HERE for the review!

3. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

I just love this book. I like the way you feel out of place at a new school and especially when you come from a different country. I adored the main character’s snarky personality and I liked that it was more of a snapshot of a time in their lives rather than a finite story.

While we’re at it, I just also want to give a huge shout out to the author’s 2020 release Charming as a Verb! Both books are definitely worth the read!!

Click HERE for the review!

2. Beartown by Frederik Backman

Beartown (Beartown, #1)

Sports. Community. Trauma. Grief. Struggle. Love. Family. Kinship. There are few topics that Beartown DOESN’T touch and I was an emotional wreck reading it. Definitely will go down as one of my all time favourite books.

And I want a movie of it. Like SO bad!

Click HERE for the review!

1. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People

Okay, so this is my absolute strangest pick of them all, because … I did not enjoy reading this book. The style of writing was irritating. The characters weren’t even likable half the time and I was not on board with so many of their decisions and yet … it’s the ONE book this year that did not let me go. Maybe it has something to do with the show also invading my mind and me ordering the hardcover copy of the scripts, but still. Something about the story of Connell and Marianne wouldn’t let go of me and that is the sole reason it deserves to be so high up this ranking.

Click HERE for the review!

Honorable Mention

Aphrodite Made Me Do It

I don’t review poetry collections on the blog, although I quite enjoy them every now and then. I just don’t have the sophistication and words needed to describe anything that goes through my head when I read them, so, I just wanted to make sure I had a little section where I got to highlight at least one of the poetry books I enjoyed this year. Aphrodite Made Me Do It was personal and like a conversation. Not long at all, but still hard hitting in parts.

 


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of my picks and where I ranked them? What is a book you loved reading this year? Let’s chat!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #50

So, here it is, my last update on what I’ve been watching in the year of 2020. I really tried to pack in as much as possible, but some things just didn’t fit in (e.g. I only made it halfway through the final season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina so far). Now, I honestly have to say that I am rethinking this format a little bit. I’ll likely always watch as much, but to continue the numbering will be … interesting, as we are so high by now. I am open for title suggestions!

Bridgerton (Season 1)

Bridgerton is based on a book that I have not read and cannot make a comparison to, but I enjoyed my binge of the show very much. It’s not without fault and I can see certain moments being problematic even, but this is basically Gossip Girl during regency times. (I hope we all know that the people in GG were not it)
I liked that they changed history and did not mean to completely portray the reality from back then. Instead they put people of color in ruling positions and honestly, why not? Also, I thought it was funny that the showrunners called this season “the education of Daphne Bridgerton”, because she really does have her sexual awakening. Be aware of many sex scenes!

For fans of: Gossip Girl in regency times

Hilda (Season 2)

I don’t often talk about animated shows, so, I just wanted to make sure that I include the ones I actually really enjoy. I like the Scandinavian vibes of Hilda and how it explores family and friendship packed into fun magical adventures. Simple as that.

For fans of: cute animation

We Can Be Heroes

This is not a serious recommendation or anything. I haven’t even seen Lavagirl and Sharkboy in full, so I am not even a fan of that movie to justify watching the sequel, but Pedro Pascal. As a dad. That’s my weakness.
Maybe, if I was a kid, I would have enjoyed it more, but it’s tacky and over the top and not exactly acted very well. I can’t blame them, cause they are kids and that is totally okay. It had fun bits. But it was also ridiculous.

For fans of: Lavagirl and Sharkboy, Pedro Pascal as a dad

Wonder Woman 1984

I wanted to like this so much, but I only found it mediocre. The thing is, there’s no way the movie had to be two and a half hours long. It also felt tonally different in the first and the second half and I much preferred the first.
It’s hard to explain, because I understood the motives of the villains. I completely got the point of the sacrifices that were made. I definitely think I comprehended the message they were trying to convey, but … I just didn’t buy it. While Diana had some great and frankly emotional scenes, I also just didn’t buy into others. Some things were resolved too quickly, others left in the air. I don’t know if I just expected too much.

For fans of: Wonder Woman, Pedro Pascal as a dad

The Midnight Sky

This movie did not need to be more than two hours long. Aside from the storyline seeming very familiar to anyone who has watched any movies set in space as of late, there was just a legit 10 minutes of the crew repairing a ship. I do not need to see that for such a long time and it might have felt more dynamic and engaging with a different cut. On top of the predictability and length, it was just very choppy, with three different storylines finding their way together. The “solution” to their problem didn’t even make sense to me in the end. There’s no way I would recommend this as a worthwhile watch.

For fans of: space movies, slow pace, George Clooney as director and actor

Sylvie’s Love

Jazz enthusiast will surely love the soundtrack of this movie. It was beautiful and warm and such a nice watch. Obviously, the cast is top notch. The styles incorporated fit the decades depicted so well and all the costumes are to die for.
It has an “old Hollywood” kind of vibe, but with a black cast that might not have been able to see themselves in a sincere love drama like this back in the day. I fully support this revival of something that felt a bit old-fashioned, but I also have to say that it had its lengths. While I am sure people will fall under the spell of the impeccable mood depicted, the story stilted sometimes and some moments felt too planned and/or convenient for the narrative.

For fans of: anyone on the cast, jazz, music, sweet love stories that span decades

Soul

Soul is just a really lovely, inspirational movie. All criticism, especially that black characters either get turned into animals or blobs for the majority of movies, is completely valid, but I also enjoyed myself so very much. The music was fantastic, everything was jazz-infused. I loved the animation style that made so many objects and lighting situations feel so realistic. I really don’t know what else to say other than this was a work of art and is definitely worth the watch.

For fans of: lovely heartfelt animation movies, Pixar


Have you watched any of the show or movies above? Do you plan to? What are some of the last things you binged in 2020?

TMP – TV Edition: Space/Aliens

I just want to preface this by saying that there’s another post about what I’ve been watching coming your way as well today. AND I also wanted to say that all my rankings for 2020 (be it film, TV or books) will be posted in the upcoming days. So, loads of posts ahead – I hope you won’t get tired of me!

As we’ve established by now, I am doing the Thursday Movie Picks feature. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

The thing is, to keep the lists spicy and interesting, there’s sometimes exceptions to the theme where we get to venture into the land of TV. You all know that it’s more my strong suite than movies, so I am excited to talk about aliens and space today!

Lost in Space

This show will soon go into its third and final season and I have enjoyed following the lives of the Robinson family so much. The visual effects are top notch and the characters will all grow on you so much. I haven’t seen the original, but dang, do I love this version.

Another Life

I am just trying to patiently wait for season 2, because I need to know how my favourite AI is doing. Otherwise, the crew can get a bit annoying … because who picked for those people to be in a tightly confined space together?? But I’d still like to know how it continues.

Roswell, New Mexico

I actually adored the original of this one, but I have come to love this version as well. It has its flaws and season 2 was all over the place (which cannot even be blamed on covid entirely). I just want Maria to be treated better and get all the happy she wants and deserves.

Steven Spielberg presents Taken

Taken is a mini-series from the early 2000s, so, bear that in mind should you want to check it out. I was OBSESSED with it as a kid and I am sure we still have the DVD box set at home somewhere. It’s this multi-generational tale of how people were abducted by aliens and how that affected the course of their lives. The aliens themselves were pretty cliché, but the families – so intriguing how everything came together.

Honorable Mentions

This is actually a “genre” or topic I quite enjoy, so, there’s loads and loads of shows I love to watch. Here are some other examples that I enjoyed but that I didn’t want to go into detail with, because I do have a problem with keeping these posts short.

  • Roswell (the OG version)
  • Dark Matter
  • Killjoys
  • Doctor Who
  • Torchwood
  • Firefly
  • Steven Universe

What did you think of my picks this week? What are some of your favourite space/alien-themed shows? Let’s chat!

This Is Not a Ghost Story by Andrea Portes (Book Review)

Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count
: 288

CW: suicidal ideation, depression, mental health decline, grief

When I hear the phrase “this is not a ghost story”, my mind immediately goes to the latest installment of the Haunting series – Bly Manor. So, it came as no surprise when this book was recommended to me as the perfect complimentary read. However, once I started I more and more got Hill House vibes from it (a menacing house working against you, rapidly declining mental health). Then again, it doesn’t seem like either one and yet would fit into the series really well … that is, if you were focusing on just one 17-year-old girl instead of a large ensemble cast. But I digress.

This Is Not a Ghost Story is written in a stream of consciousness/inner monologue style that immediately made Daffodil (the main character and our narrator) endearing to me. She is chaotic, daydreaming, binges conspiracy theory documentaries on Netflix all day and manages to not move from her bed unless strictly necessary. Human contact? Who needs that!?
While I adored her voice, because it helped lighten some of the creepier scenes with a tinge of humour, I could also see a couple people struggling with it. The way I see it is that it’s one of those things that’s either totally your thing or not at all.

As you all well know, I don’t really do horror. OR I mostly only do horror light, so, this worked really well for me. The title already says it, it is not a ghost story. It sure feels like one at times, but there’s a lot more to it that just keeps unraveling and tricking you. This book is for all the people who hear a creepy noise and deliberately ignore it until no longer possible. It’s for all of us who will try to explain away the most illogical and impossible things like there is any kind of rationale to it.

The only thing I am kind of grapple with is the end. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense. It really does, but I am not sure if it feels right? Some have described it as lackluster, which isn’t even my issue with it. I am just uncertain about the involvement of a certain someone in getting Daffodil into this situation in the first place. It just does not sit right with me entirely, but maybe … maybe that is just not for me to understand. As Daffodil said, there’s not yet words for some things you want to say.

In the end, I did pick up a horror-esque book on purpose and … I enjoyed myself! A LOT! I have really ventured out of my comfort zone a little bit this year and I am really proud of that. Maybe this book isn’t perfect, but I am basing this rating on how much it entertained me and I more or less inhaled This Is Not a Ghost Story.

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! Still trying to come to terms with the ending, but overall I really enjoyed this!


What are we thinking? Would you pick up this book? Let’s talk in the comments!

Beartown by Frederik Backman (Book Review)

Publisher: Washington Square Press
Page Count
: 415

CW: rape, physical assault, racism, homophobia, substance abuse, suicidal ideation

I’ve wanted to read Beartown for the longest time. Many people I know have read and liked it, but I especially keep thinking of my good friend Lois @My Midnight Musing when I think about the book. She, too, encouraged me to pick it up and it’s not even like I didn’t want to. I really did! I was just also extremely scared. Somehow I just knew that once I would start reading it, this would become one of my all time favourite books and … I was not mistaken, but it was also so incredibly emotional.

“One of the plainest truths about both towns and individuals is that they usually don’t turn into what we tell them to be, but what they are told they are.”

Backman talks about Beartown and makes it seem like it could be in pretty much any country (although it’s set in Sweden). He has a talent in taking this small community in the middle of nowhere that has no other topic than hockey to talk about and make it seem like the most relatable town there is. They are tight-knit yet judgmental, they are proud but also so very hopeful for a better future, they are hard-working to the point of breaking … they are full of shame and guilt.

“Difficult questions, simple answers. What is a community?
It is the sum total of our choices.”

For a town that likes difficult questions and simple answers, I feel like the book gives the reader the exact opposite experience. It asks seemingingly simple questions about sports, community, parenthood, culpability, friendship, family and love. You, for yourself, might even have very clear answers on what those things mean to you, but Backman makes sure you see all the angles. You might not always agree, but it sure will make you think.

There is a relief in finding a character at the beginning of a story, latching on to them and finding out that they truly are the shining light you hoped them to be. In the grand scheme of things, the adults are definitely far worse than the kids/teens, but there were still some incomprehensible choices made all around. With so many disappointments and resentment building towards certain people in this story, I was so appreciative of the ones that did the right thing over and over again, no matter how hard or impossible it seemed. I even developed a certain pride for people as if they were my own children/siblings/loved ones.

“If you are honest, people may deceive you. Be honest anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway. All the good you do today will be forgotten by others tomorrow. Do good anyway.”

I don’t want to go into detail about what happens in the novel. The foreshadowing, and I am not sure you can really call it that, since it’s so very blatant and in your face, is cruel. Your heart picks up pace every time you turn the page wondering when the inevitable destructive act will take place. Not one moment goes by where you don’t know that happiness is fleeting and soon these lives will crumble to pieces. You are just not certain if they will be able to rebuild it all.
At the end, you might ask yourself if justice was dealt, but things will never be the same for the characters either way. I think our actual real life justice system fails people over and over all the time. People make victims out of predators and treat others less humane depending on their value to the community. It’s heartbreaking in a way you want to do nothing but sob for days, but it’s also realistic. You cannot always sugarcoat reality. We, as humanity, still have so much farther to go and I enjoyed how Backman lit the situations from so many different angles. Although my answer is clear. No, there was no real justice.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! I think this one will stick with me for a long while.


Have you read Beartown? Would you like to? Have you read any of the other novels Frederik Backman has written? Let’s chat!

Thursday Movie Picks – Holiday Action Movies

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone! I don’t know if you celebrate, but where I live, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th, which means I totally thought ahead and scheduled this post! Yay me!

As we’ve established by now, I am doing the Thursday Movie Picks feature. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today’s theme is Holiday Action movies, which is not my forte at all. But I shall try my best!

Die Hard

I could not not mention it. It’s like THE classic action Christmas movie, because it’s set during Christmas AND has loads of action. Do I really need to say more?

Shazam!

Is a superhero movie automatically an action movie? I don’t know, but I am counting it towards that goal. There’s a winter carnival and everything, helping get some general themes across.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

I loved this movie so much when I was younger. I completely forgot it was set during Christmas time, even though there’s several holiday parties and a toy store robbery and Michelle Monaghan in a sexy Mrs Santa outfit, but a little research brought back the memory.


Obviously there weren’t as many picks as I usually am able to present. Do you have some notable holiday action movies? I don’t think we were limited to Christmas, although that’s mostly what I went for.