April 2020 Wrap-Up

Something about time is just not consistent this year. Whereas the first couple months felt like years, April was gone in the blink of an eye. I guess we all got used to our current situations and that way it didn’t feel so endless? I don’t know … it’s just a working theory. Either way, April still gave me plenty of time to get back into my reading groove and I’m now halfway through my Goodreads challenge, which makes me super happy!

  • Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (3 stars)
  • Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer (5 stars)
    This is a beautiful and very personal poetry collection, where the poet talks to the Goddess Aphrodite about trauma and love and societal expectations and I adored it. It felt very intimate and I marked so many passages, but I don’t know how to review poetry really other than saying “THIS MADE ME FEEL SOMETHING”, so that’s why you didn’t hear much about it from me.
  • Deadpool Issue #20 (5 stars)
    You can read this issue for free here. Trigger warning for suicide!
  • Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan (4 stars)
  • Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel (3 stars)

Again, but Better Aphrodite Made Me Do It Deadpool #20 Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2) Only Human (Themis Files, #3)

As per usual, click on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy! My own reviews you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above.

I went into this month thinking I could do … a lot? I soon realised that even if I was motivated, there were definite limitations. The more I wanted to do, the less I actually did and so I focused on a couple things. I started working out on the daily and have missed maybe one or two days this last month. I don’t do hours upon hours of workout, but I do feel better exercising a little bit and am starting (if very slowly so) to see some changes in my body.

Another thing I focused on was getting back into writing. I initially wanted to continue working on the #witchyWIP for Camp NaNoWriMo, but ended up not feeling it anymore. Instead, I started a completely new project where I have recently hit 12K words. It’s a YA contemporary story with a slight focus on Football, but also family drama and just all sorts of relationships (go friendships!). There is no pitchable blurb yet and I feel different about this project. You know me, I usually blab about my projects all day long, but somehow I feel like keeping this one close to my chest … at least for now.

Having been more into writing taught me that I cannot consume a lot of other media (books and TV and movies) or it will hinder my own creativity. I tend to get lost in all those fictional worlds and when that happens, it’s really hard to pull myself out of it and work on my own stuff. Which is what I want to do! So, I think all things considered, I did fairly well with posts and reviews, even though I felt I couldn’t read/watch as much as I sometimes wanted to.

However, something I tried to do more again to not get out of practice entirely is draw. When I have to pick my own reference pic, I will spend hours without getting anywhere, because I am super indecisive. Instead, I turned to my friends on Twitter and asked for characters they wanted to have drawn. If you have Twitter as well, feel free to comment with a pic of your fave. I won’t promise to draw anything, but I am trying to make it a more regular occasion and will turn to this pinned tweet for inspo!

The drawing I most enjoyed doing so far was of Melonie Diaz as Mel Vera from the Charmed Reboot!

But I am slowly but surely running out of watercolor paper (it’s ordered, but will take some time. I only have THREE pieces of paper left), which made me turn to practicing pencil drawings as well. Here is a grumpy Nick Miller from New Girl.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

In turns of media consumption my two favourite things are very easy to identify as Friday Night Lights and the movie The Half of It! However, I talked about FNL at length in a separate post and do intend to talk about The Half of It in an upcoming one. So, instead, let’s check out some awesome content around the blogosphere:

  • Sophie @Me and Ink talked about some deliciously morally grey characters and I was all here for it!
  • Marie @Drizzle and Hurricane Books gave us an insight as to how to deal with a blogging slump. Let’s face it, it has happened to all of us at some point …
  • I really loved this look at Season 3 of Elite and what’s ahead over @MettelRay
  • The Orang-Utan Librarian had some quarrels with the adaptation of The Noughts and Crosses book series to screen (despite my dear Josh Dylan being in it).
  • My good friend Lois @My Midnight Musings does not just have a new layout on her blog, she was also completely smitten by The Kiss Quotient last month and did a great review on it.
  • Sophie Li and Jai Lynn both took it upon them to take part in my newly created Quarantine Write Tag! Check out their posts and stories – they are awesome!

MY OTHER POSTS

VARIOUS POSTS

WRITING TAGS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

This is it from me! I hope you had a good start into the month of May! I also hope you are staying safe and healthy. Take care of yourselves and be responsible <3!

#CurrentlyWatching: Friday Night Lights

I haven’t done an actual #CurrentlyWatching post over a year (I am not joking, the last one was back in 2018), so this should prove to you how important this show is to me. While I very much enjoy the short-opinion paragraphs I offer you in my “What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching” feature, I simply could not resist writing a proper full length post about Friday Night Lights. Yes, it was THAT good!

Friday Night Lights is a Football-centric sports drama series set in Texas that ran from 2006 until 2011 on NBC. Even before the show, there was a movie with the same title in 2004, however, the show is not a continuation, but the story told anew (names are different, etc.). I very much realise that I am super late to the party, but I don’t think the show ever aired in my own country and honestly, Football wasn’t much of a priority of mine until recently.

Friday Night Lights follows Football team at a Texan High School, with a special focus on the coach, Eric Taylor, his wife, daughter and a select number of players. The show highlights the struggles each and every member of this tight-knit community has to face.

I am not sure I have the vocabulary to describe how this show made me feel. A lot of people think that Friday Night Lights is a piece of flawless work of television, I do not agree with that statement. Do I think it is utterly brilliant? Compelling and emotional and addicting? Absolutely! But … it is not perfect and that is okay. Some characters fell victim to bad timing and writer’s strikes, some storylines never got resolved properly, but regardless, Friday Night Lights manages to reel you in, create an emotional connection and make this an unforgettable experience. I am not surprised that it has become a TV classic at all.

At first, I was unsure about the style. There’s mostly use of hand-held camera and extreme close ups that give the entire show a certain documentary-esque look. But after having gotten used to it, I found that these specific cinematographic choices added to the feeling of really being with the characters and in the moment yourself. After some time, you could almost think you are living in Dillon, Texas, yourself.

One of the massive strengths of Friday Night Lights is managing to create a universal appeal, despite a very specific setting and situation. I really am not a Football buff, but I was so invested in the outcome of these games. I literally jumped up and cheered or flailed in agony at a loss (to the dismay of the people around me) whenever the team played.

This show is about so much more than Football though. It’s also so much more than the artistic choices taken. It’s first and foremost about people. People you root and care for. Great storytelling that involves aspects of life that feel authentic and relevant. Not everyone is nice all the time, not everyone is perfect and not every conflict gets a satisfying resolution, but that is life. And life is messy and beautiful.

So, there are some seasons that are better than others, but if you look at the show as a whole, it’s really a piece of television art. I didn’t need them to pair everyone up all neat and nicely, but I did appreciate that we got a look at what was in store. At how the lives of everyone changed and how they were impacted by the relationships they formed in that small town in Texas.

Now, there are very many characters to love. Picking just one honestly feels a little bit like a crime. Obviously, Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) is an iconic character and so is his wife, as portrayed by Connie Britton. Both carried a heavy portion of this show on their backs and respect that to no end. They were the adult voices of reason and are 100% the kind of educators and support system I wish every child would receive in their academic career. Then there are so many fantastic characters on and off the field that brought me laughter and tears alike. I don’t want to go into too much detail in case anyone still wants to check it out or hasn’t seen it, but it all comes down to one thing: Looking at the five glorious seasons that I have just watched, the standout character for me remains Tim Riggins (portrayed by Taylor Kitsch).

While the team constantly changed and not even all adults stuck around, you get to follow Tim Riggins’ journey through all seasons. You meet him as a bit of a mess and watch him grow and change, while one thing remains – he cares so much about everyone around him! He was never after glory or recognition and I will never forget the one ultimate sacrifice he pulled, because IT. BROKE. MY. HEART. And yes, I went so far as to draw that very moment, because I am that extra.

Just thinking back to this moment, I get anxious for Tim.

Everyone sort of used Tim as their personal punching bags. He was called “useless”, “disgusting”, “unwanted”, “lazy”, “mediocre” and many more ugly words, while all I saw was a very lost boy. Kitsch was probably in his 20s when this was filmed, but all I could see was the fragility of abandoned youth. Someone who put everyone’s needs above his own. He wasn’t a perfect gentleman or anything like that, he made plenty of mistake and probably drank way too much, but he also had a certain nobility about him and he loved those around him unconditionally. Every time he was on screen, my heart broke just a little bit and while many wanted more out of the finale (which I kind of get but also not), I thought Tim was exactly where he was supposed to be, doing exactly what he wanted to do.

I can honestly say that I feel like this show has spoiled me for almost all other TV. I am nursing a huge hangover now, after I decided to watch the final episode on this very Friday. There’s just something poetic about ending it all on this day.

So, there is only one thing to say to finish this post:

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.


Have you watched FNL? Do you want to? What is a show that has completely grabbed you lately?

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel (Themis Files #3, Book Review)

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Page Count
: 350

Only Human is the third and final book in the Themis Files series. If you want to read my review of book 1, Sleeping Giants, click here and if you want to read my thoughts on book 2, Waking Gods, click here!

It has been a while since I read the previous books in the series, but my statement that this is like an adult and more Earth-centered version of the Illuminae Files still stands … sort of. I was surprised at how easily I found myself back in this world, remembering (almost) everything that had happened previously.

This story is still very much about humanity. However, a large part of this book didn’t take place on Earth and that was to be expected after the cliffhanger ending from Waking Gods, but I think I thought that the aliens would be different. I had a VERY hard time taking the aliens seriously. Something about them and their way of life just seemed silly (I really had a tough time with their language for some reason) and even when situations became really dire, it just did not feel that way. There were some serious life and death scenarios in the past that often didn’t end well and I appreciated this cold and almost detached analysis of “mistakes were made” and “wrong decisions were made”, but nothing in Only Human felt as severe as it should. Even some real blowbacks didn’t affect me at all and that was a real shame.

I don’t remember if that was the case in the previous installments, but I also struggled a bit with the copious amounts of time jumps. I guess it wouldn’t have worked to just tell it chronologically, but it just felt more scattered, whereas I always considered this series to be very focused. Also, certain scenes quickly gave off a repetitive vibe, as the same characters fought over the same topics over and over again, without making much progress or trying to see the other’s perspective. To say that ended in a couple useless fights is the understatement of the week …

As far as endings for a series go, this was really decent though. Questions that were asked throughout all books were (partially) answered or dealt with, no characters were forgotten or left behind. Everything sort of came full circle and that’s always enjoyable in a way, even if you don’t know every itsy bitsy detail about the character’s lives in the “after”. It leaves you with less of a sense of wondering about humanity as I expected though. We are and always will be judgmental and ready for a fight it seems, it just depends who we choose to see as our villain.

Ultimately, I don’t know if it’s due to me having stepped away from the series for so long or this just really not grabbing me as much, but Only Human was my least favourite part in the series. I still have no regrets reading it in general, even if a very big reason for it was me falling utterly and endlessly in love with the covers.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! A good but not brilliant ending to a very interesting series.

Have you read the Themis Files? Do you want to? Are you as in love with the covers as I am?

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 544

**Ruthless Gods is the second book in the Something Dark and Holy series! There are likely going to be SPOILERS for the first book. If you want to read my review of Wicked Saints click here!**

I was very excited about the release of Ruthless Gods and remain a big fan of this series, despite it being in a more horror-esque genre than I am used to. Still, I can see how these books keep dividing readers and there are a lot of people who absolutely do not enjoy it. All I want to say to that is, if you didn’t really enjoy Wicked Saints, I find it very unlikely that you will all of a sudden like this one?

Okay, on to the actual review. Ruthless Gods picks up a couple months after the last novel finished and usually I am always bit iffy about a lot of time passing and us not actually getting to see what happens on the page, but it was handled well here. I was a little worried, that this book might turn out to be some sort of filler, as it really didn’t feel like they were making much progress in the grand scheme of things and with another book on the way, they definitely wouldn’t resolve anything just yet. However, I was surprised by just how many pieces were moved and how much information was revealed in the end, because it sure didn’t feel like it halfway through the book.

Something I enjoyed very much in Wicked Saints and that still fascinates me is the belief system and the numerous gods and beings of power in this series. The more I read about them, the more I was filled with this deep-rooted feeling of dread and I was so very glad not to be in the shoes of any of the characters. People who had asked for this series to become darker sure got their fill!

Divinity and the concept of forever sometimes feel so beyond my small little brain and it’s also what makes this book so special. These characters have no idea just how big the scope of things are and how much they are in completely over their heads. It’s difficult to describe something that’s just beyond your grasp of understanding and I think Duncan does a masterful job of invoking curiosity in all the things left to discover, while also showing that it might be too big of a knowledge to grasp. If the characters can’t do it, why should the reader?

The gods were ancient and unfathomable. There were older, deeper things, but how much farther could a mortal’s brain comprehend than beings of forever? Nadya had so much more to learn about the gods who had touched her and led her down this dark and terrible path.

What I really loved about the first book was the dynamic between all the characters. I think I was very heavily focused on Nadya and Malachiasz last time, but this book my heart belonged to Serefin “moth boy” only. I was a little upset when the groups parted ways, because 1.) Serefin was in danger and all by himself and 2.) I just really enjoy his banter with everyone, but especially his peculiar relationship with Nadya. I am not saying I ship them, because they so very clearly are in love with other people, but I friend-ship them? None of the characters really chose the life they were thrust in, but something about Serefin’s fate particularly breaks my heart and all I want to do is protect that silly moth boy and give him a more peaceful life. (Let’s face it, most of these characters deserve better than the hand they were dealt, but it felt like there was the least agency and free will involved in Serefin’s mess.)

A Serefin-inspired aesthetic, because what else? I need everyone to keep my moth boy safe!

So many of the relationships in this series are beyond complicated and tainted and warped. I can see why some people think it doesn’t make sense for the pining to continue after one betrayal after another, but … I do? Something about this torturous cycle of lies and distrust and love and deep-rooted care foiled by other people’s or other beings’ plans just works. These characters are tied by something greater, finding their way to each other even under the most unlikely of circumstances, so yes, I can suspend disbelief and see how they cannot quit each other (be it friendships, lovers, confidants, whatever).

This was going to kill her. This, right here, this beautiful boy and his monstrous power and his lies and the knowledge that nothing mattered, they would always betray each other in the end.

In the end, the only thing I asked myself is: Will all of this have a happy ending? Will everyone be okay?
The most likely answer to that is: no.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! The horror increases as I keep worrying about all my favourite characters.

I can’t wait to see how all of this is supposed to pan out! Did you read Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods? Do you find yourself interested in the series? Let’s chat!

Movies & TV Shows That Take Place In the Biz

Some of you already know this about me, but I have worked in the film and TV business before (and hope to do so again in the future). I love this whole world, even if it’s not nearly as glamorous as Hollywood often makes it out to be.

Now, in honor of Ryan Murphy’s new show Hollywood soon premiering on Netflix (May 1st) – which I am very excited about!!! –  I thought it would be a fun idea to share some of my favourite movies and TV shows that take place in the film and TV business! Some of them try to portray the fantasy we all like to indulge in, others are a bit more critical of the matter. By no means is this a finite list or anything like that, it’s really just some movies that I have personally enjoyed, and you know how mushy I can be about stuff near and dear to my heart! I hope you enjoy!

Movies

LATE NIGHT

I have already declared my undying love for all Mindy Kaling projects and Late Night is no exception. It tackles the world of late night talkshows and does so especially from a female perspective. I don’t think very many people ever get a look behind the scenes of such shows, so I liked it (however realistic or unrealistic it was – that’s not the point of this post).

AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS

What would one of these posts be without at least a single movie from the late 90s/early 00s!? America’s Sweethearts probably doesn’t go very in depth on the whole film making part of the business, but rather the way relationships are arranged for the public and media. I just really enjoy RomComs from that “era”, even if they always included some sort of toxic theme (e.g. the girl had to loose weight to become desirable …)

MORNING GLORY

Morning television is a very competitive field in reality, one where people don’t necessarily get to grow old in for aesthetic reasons, but that’s just why I enjoyed the Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford team up for the host positions all the more! And Rachel McAdams is always a plus as well. This one is light-hearted and sweet.

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

I threw this in more for all the book lovers out there than for its actual place in the film business, because as many of you know, this was adapted off of a YA novel. In all honesty, I loved this movie a whole lot more than the book though and it also is worth mentioning here, because the way the main character goes about filming and applying for film school with his material is how a lot of people get started out.

Having said that, this story deals with some heavy topics. Be prepared to cry!

Read more of my thoughts about it here!

TV Shows

THE NEWSROOM

To this day, I think that The Newsroom is one of the single best pieces of television ever created! I think they would have a field day with the current political climate and so much more content to work with, but I was happy with the season I got. These characters meant (and still mean) so much to me and have proven over and over again how important integrity is in journalism! Aaron Sorkin’s scripts are always a treat, but this one … I will never forget how great it was!

 

THE MORNING SHOW

Speaking of absolutely amazing content! I tried to mirror some of the topics from the movies in my list of TV shows, but I think the title already gives it away that this show is about morning television as well. However, this one is definitely higher up in terms of quality. I am halfway through the first season, so, not actually done yet, but the cast is phenomenal! It is current, it lets everyone play their own age and has a very compelling storyline. I am hooked!

UnREAL

Do you enjoy watching the Bachelor? Then you will likely enjoy this behind the scenes look at how shows like The Bachelor/Bachelorette/whatever-else-there-is-these-days is produced! I have been told that it’s not very far off from reality, so that’s a bit sobering for some, I am sure, but UnREAL has some of the most badass female characters – this is really their story!

Read more of my thoughts about it here!

FAMOUS IN LOVE

Another book to screen adaptation! And again, very different to its source material, which led me to enjoy the show a lot more than the book to be honest. This, in no way, feels like an accurate representation of how everything goes down. It’s very much a teen/new adult drama that just keeps piling on even more drama. But, if you like the idea of the overnight success, this is the show for you!

Read more of my thoughts about it here!

THE ARRANGEMENT

This is a more modern and less wholesome take on America’s Sweethearts in my eyes? People also have 100% compared this to Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Scientology, but I will not speak on that matter. It really does happen that public relationships are treated like contracts, but I like the fantasy of those fake-dating-but-becoming-real-lovers-type of stories. I find them cheesy, but fun! The “cult” element just adds some edge to it!

THE LAST TYCOON

And lastly, this is probably closest to the show that inspired this whole post. I had a massive F. Scott Fitzgerald phase and wanted to dive into everything that wasn’t The Great Gatsby. Unfortunately he never got to finish The Last Tycoon and similarly, Amazon never finished the show either, but I still think this was a beautiful show about the beginnings of Hollywood and old cinema.

Read more of my thoughts on the book here!


Again, these were hardly all the existing shows and movies about the topic out there! Are some that come to mind for you? Let’s chat!