May 2021 Wrap-Up

Time’s just flying by and I have lost all track of what’s happening. I did, however, read an astonishing amount of books this past month, which was only possible because some of those were no more than 40 pages and included a lot of poetry collections, but still … I read a bunch! I love that for me. Let’s check out what was on my list:

  • The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin (3 stars)
  • On the Shortness of Life by Seneca (3 stars)
    It is astonishing to me that, after 2,000 years, we still struggle with similar problems. This series of short essays wasn’t always something I agreed with, but it raised some very interesting points.
  • Love Looks Pretty on You by Lang Leav (4 stars)
    This poetry collection was so easy to get into. I found a lot of passages I could identify with, while others were so specific that it almost felt like intruding on someone’s personal life.
  • The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman (5 stars)
    This is “just” a printed version of the inaugural poem Amanda Gorman wrote, with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey. Nothing beats watching her perform it though.
  • Where Hope Comes From by Nikita Gill (5 stars)
    Another poetry collection, this one with a focus on the year 2020. I found it very emotional to read and do not recommend it if you don’t want to be reminded of the pain of the pandemic (which we’re still in).
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4 stars)
  • Galatea by Madeline Miller (3 stars)
    Miller’s short story – Galatea – is bound to break your heart, like most of her writing will.

The Nature of Witches  On The Shortness Of Life: De Brevitate Vitae (A New Translation with Image Gallery and Seneca Biography) (Stoics In Their Own Words Book 4)  Love Looks Pretty on You  The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem  Where Hope Comes From: Poems of Resilience, Healing and Light  Malibu Rising  Galatea

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 (where there is one) you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above if there are posts for them.

So, what’s new? I have further reduced my time on social media (although it’s still easy to reach me via DMs if there’s ever something I need to know or you want to talk about) and it has been very freeing. I barely check my timeline, I tweet something every other day and then log off again and just enjoy not giving my opinion on all things? It’s not that I have nothing to say or talk about, but … does the whole world need to know? The answer is likely “no”, so I reduce my interactions mostly to brief reactions about what I’ve watched recently. It honestly works for me.

I haven’t drawn or done much creatively once more and I’m not sure June will be the month for that either. It’s going to hold a lot of changes for me and we shall see how that might also affect my blogging schedule (been going “strong” with at least 2 posts each week minimum). For now, it looks like the Canada thing needs to be buried, which saddens me but is something I’ll just have to deal with. I think a lot of lives have been interrupted/disrupted/changed during the past year and if letting go of that dream is what it means for me, then it could have been much worse I suppose.

During the past months, my blogging friend Stephanie @Adventures of a Bibliophile has really inspired me with her reading experiments. Be it about books she read based on her zodiac sign or letting Buzzfeed decide her next reads, it is always sure to be fun and a unique to her experience. Now, I’m not saying I’m going to copy her, but I have started my very own reading experiment. I wanted it to be something that felt very true to me and that you would all hopefully enjoy as well. I’m not ready to disclose what exactly my post will entail, but having written about it here will give me that accountability to go through with it! I’M SO EXCITED!

MY FAVORITE THINGS

Since I spent less time on social media apps, you might think I spent less time in front of screens, but that’s not entirely true. I still watched a whole lot, for example also the TV adaptation of Panic by Lauren Oliver. Fair warning, I forgot everything there was about the plot, except for random details, but I had a good time. The concept of the game within the story is pretty reckless and stupid, all of it is a very teen angst filled show, but I was entertained.

I’ve also started to delve into fan fiction a bit, just because I think it’s such an amazing outlet for all the creative people out there. I love reading my friends’ takes on Charmed (which are often better than canon) such as katasstropheee‘s or amandapanda425‘s works (to just name a few). But also all things Marvel related, where I’m especially excited to see the Why Me? fic continued once the Loki show will air. Reimagining already existing worlds can be so satisfying and I might try my own hand at it while my motivation for my original novels is lacking.

MY OTHER POSTS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

THURSDAY MOVIE PICKS

VARIOUS BOOKISH STUFF

TRAILER POSTS


What are some things that shaped your May? What are you looking forward to in June? Let’s chat a little bit and I hope you are all happy and healthy!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (ARC Review)

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Page Count
: 384
Release Date: June 1, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: alcoholism, parental abandonment, loss of a loved one, adultification, mention of drug use, cheating

Many of my friends would probably gasp at the statement, but Malibu Rising was my first full length novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I had always meant to check out her books, had made plans so many times before, especially because I had enjoyed her novella Evidence of the Affair a whole lot, but apparently never followed through. I’m so very glad I remedied that now.

As we follow the Riva family through the decades, it is somehow easy to fall in love with all these characters. They felt real and flawed and relatable. With so many mentions of people that actually exist(ed), you were almost tempted to look up if their story was based on someone’s actual life.

As you alternate between the siblings Nina, Jay, Hub and Kit as grown-ups in the 80s and their parents June and Mick falling in love in the 50s, it becomes clear early on how these people shaped each other. While I first worried that some of the characters would get lost, there was a great balance between all of them and it felt astonishingly easy to follow their tale. Character traits as well as relationships to others but also money make a lot of sense when you consider the decisions made by those who came before you. It is all interwoven and shows how you can become the person you want to be because of or despite of your upbringing. My heart broke for these characters over and over and over again. I really just wanted to hold them and was proud of how they continued to trust in people and gave their love so freely even after the hardships they endured.

I have to say, as much as the book had me in the first half, it kind of lost me at times in the second one. I was so invested in the fate of the siblings, in their life story, I didn’t even really care if there was a bigger plot to it all. Just following their struggles and growth, seeing them get through it together, was enough for me. However, as much as I had forgotten the big life-changing party was going to take place later on in the book, it still came barreling in in the second half.
While I thought it was already bordering on too many POVs when we just had the siblings as well as their parents, Taylor Jenkins Reid doubled down and introduced many one-off POVs to show just how crowded and wild the party was getting. I understood that some of the fleeting perspectives added to the atmosphere, but overall, they weren’t necessary to further the story in my opinion. It all just became a bit too much and too disjointed for me.

Still, I cannot help but feel touched by all of it! Family and all its intricacies is one of my favorite topics to read about and Taylor Jenkins Reid managed to really bring that home. Each of the siblings was unique in their own way, but it was easy to find part of myself in each of them. The style of writing is engaging and manages to capture the flair of the setting and time period perfectly. I could picture everything in my mind as if I was watching a movie from back in the day. It’s rare that I read about a bunch of siblings who all love to surf with all their heart (something I know nothing about) and still feel so very connected to them. Definitely a read I will continue to cherish!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Very strong start with a bit of a jumbled second half, but still SO MUCH heart!


Do you plan on reading Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel? What is your favorite one by her you’ve read so far? Let’s talk!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #60

Before the end of the month, I definitely wanted to do another of these posts to showcase what I had been watching. As I’ve gotten back into network television and I don’t tend to mention these shows on here (but feel free to always assume that I am up to date with most of the weekly releases), this post won’t be super long. Enjoy!

Panic (Season 1)

Panic is an Amazon Original show based on the YA novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver. I actually read this book years ago (I think all the way back in 2014???), but I honestly can’t remember much about it and I know that to be true, because I was genuinely shocked by some of the twists on the show.

Where the book was written from a dual POV (Heather and Dodge), the show focuses on even more key players of the game Panic with a clear bias towards Heather and her perspective though. Having so many characters the audience is supposed to care about can be tricky and I don’t think it fully managed to make us invested in all of them. I found a couple performances really intriguing and even liked minor side characters, but definitely not all of the mains. The relationship between Heather and Ray was something that kept me interested. I have a soft spot for the boy who is always presumed to be the worst, but who actually really cares.

As for the premise in general, I find it hard to judge these teens for playing a game as stupid as Panic. First of all, this wouldn’t be the first time a really upsetting tradition was created in a small-knit and poor community, no matter how reckless participating is, and secondly, I truly believe that these characters thought taking part was the only way out for them. Of course, the thrill-seekers of the bunch are morons for playing a potentially lethal game, but if you had nothing to your name and all you wanted was to escape a place and your circumstances … maybe you would consider it too?

All in all, I really enjoyed the show. I binged it in one go and liked the thrill that came with some of the challenges. The acting was wooden in part, which didn’t help me connect to the characters, but as I said above, there were a couple performances I really enjoyed. The game in itself is something you just have to believe in no matter the plot holes for this work. A lot of the mystery is just for the mystery’s sake and the viewers know even less than the characters while watching, which can be frustrating at times. Still, I would watch another season.

Special (Season 2)

I had a great time watching Special when it first released on Netflix. I think they managed to get to do longer episodes this season (even if it was only by a little) and it helped strengthen their narrative. We weren’t stuck with last season’s plot at all, but naturally evolved with the characters. So much of it was finding out who you want to spend your time with after you’ve learned to love yourself, which isn’t an easy feat to begin with, but you might not want to compromise or settle. Kim’s love life was a highlight for me, because I adore that she just had men worshiping her. I love to see big girl love.

Army of the Dead

Not going to lie, this isn’t my genre at all. I’m not into zombie movies in general (Warm Bodies being the rare exception), but I genuinely wanted to see how Matthias Schweighöfer would fare among these other Hollywood actors. He must have made a great impression since his character is getting a prequel movie, which he will also direct and I found his character a really good comic relief.

In general, this movie was much more fun that I thought it would be. It has some weaknesses, but the zombies were different than the ones I’m used to and I felt entertained, which is the most important part anyway. I can see how this would lead to an entire cinematic zombie universe of its own, because there is definitely potential for sequels, especially some that are set outside of the US.

Doors

I don’t know why I felt to watch an anthology horror movie with extraterrestrial doors in the middle of the night, but I did. It weirdly gave me annihilation vibes and everything about the sound design and the visuals is specifically made to make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I was a little put off by the way writing was incorporated in the movie, but it definitely added to the unique style. I didn’t end up loving it, because it made me feel super off and wasn’t a very satisfying watch in my opinion, but I don’t regret checking it out.


I’m currently watching the second season of Ragnarok, so you can be sure that I will talk about that once the next post rolls around. What are you watching? Do you plan to view or have you already seen any of the things I mentioned?

TMP – TV Edition: Globetrotting

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. 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.

As it so happens, we change it up once per month and talk about TV shows instead of movies. Today is all about the topic of globetrotting, BUT only scripted, non-reality, non-travel, non-docu series, which eliminates quite a bunch of shows that might come to mind initially. Still, I got you covered and here are my picks!

Sense8

To this day, Sense8 is one of my all time most favorite shows ever! With its cast from all around the globe, it managed to create a feeling of connectedness to strangers I had rarely experienced before. I was lucky enough to meet the cast and creators during PRIDE weekend a couple years back and they are lovely, inspiring people in real life too. I wouldn’t want to miss this experience for anything in the world. Also, I low-key got captured at one of those events and ended up depicted for 2 seconds in the credits of the final episode.

The Librarians

The Librarians are the keepers of ancient (often magical) artifacts and as you may be able to guess, they aren’t all located in the good old US. Granted, I do believe that I associate the traveling more with the movie franchise the show is based on, but there’s still globetrotting involved. I liked the show, as corny as it may have been.

Tribes of Europa

This show takes place in a post-apocalyptic Europe, where borders are newly defined and areas ruled by tribes instead of countries and governments as we know it. There’s a lot of cringe that comes with this show, because what is that stilted dialogue at times, but the concept is interesting either way. I wasn’t a fan of all the violence and sexual abuse, but I would be curious to watch another season.

Doctor Who

The Doctor sure seems to favor contemporary Great Britain, but he does travel around the globe and the galaxy as well, not just in time. I can’t pinpoint a specific episode that enjoyed particularly because of its location, but I do remember them being in Pompeii, Venice, France, NYC etc.


What are some shows that you can think of that are about travelling the globe? And remember the parameters of the prompt – non-fiction or reality shows are not allowed!!

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 362
Release Date: June 1, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

Advertised as “Practical Magic meets Twister“, The Nature of Witches immediately grabbed my attention when I first heard about it (those are legit two movies I adore with my whole heart). As much as I enjoy immersing myself in a high Fantasy concept, there’s something special about magic meeting our contemporary world, which this book does instead.
In this specific instance, witches have always lived among humans and helped them regulate the atmosphere and climate. But humans, as they tend to do in every reality it seems, wanted more. They went against the witches’ recommendations and tried to inhabit parts of the planet that should have been left to nature, always trying to push the limits further, until the Earth could take no more and the atmosphere became too erratic to be tamed by magic even.

As far as general premises go, this was something that interested me right away, because I loved the idea of mirroring our real life climate crisis in a magical way. However, the book only carried this idea as an underlying theme to propel the main character, Clara, further in her journey of accepting herself. Told from her POV, you mostly deal with her inner and very personal struggle. As an Everwitch, she can control magic no matter the season, whereas other witches are at their strongest or weakest depending on the time of year. Clara’s not just the only Everwitch there is, but because it has been so long since the last one lived, no one really knows what her powers entail, just that she is stronger and more dangerous and their only hope at counteracting the humans’ destruction. The danger in her abilities manifests specifically whenever she loses control, because her rampant magic seeks the people she loves the most and kills them, hence why she is reluctant to form any attachment to the people in her life.

While reading the book, I understood where Clara’s trauma came from. Imagine having powers you never asked for and that no one knows how to control, just to see them take every person you love from you at the slightest mistake. The conclusion that you would need to isolate yourself makes sense, but it still put the story in a repetitive loop, because not getting attached to anyone simply isn’t realistic. We are not even talking about romantic love here, but any kindness can make the heart grow fonder. Still, Clara focuses a lot on her romantic entanglements, which include her ex-girlfriend Paige and her current love interest Sang. I was personally more invested in Paige’s side of things, simply because she seemed like one of the few people willing to call out Clara when she was being self-centered and their history was really interesting. Sang, on the other hand, was one of the loveliest and sweetest characters. He was so supportive and exuded a calm that I wish I possessed too, but somehow I didn’t feel the depth of their love as much as it was described on the page.

All of this was a surprisingly quick read as you breeze through the seasons, but despite the dangerous situations the characters were put in, I didn’t feel the urgency of the plot. Usually, when it comes to magic, I try to just accept what I’m told, but I struggled a bit with the logistics. Here are a couple of examples that didn’t make sense to me entirely:

  • Every witch has their own seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) in which they are born, their personality is affected by and their magic is the strongest. However, seasons aren’t technically bound to certain months. They are marked by weather patterns and daylight hours, completely different depending on where you live on the planet. So, if a Summer witch didn’t want to see her powers wane after three months, wouldn’t they just be of better use in a different geographical area?
  • Clara had to live in a shed in the woods all by herself after a fatal incident with her powers, to make sure she wouldn’t get attached to any of her other classmates who lived together in dorms. This technically seems logical, but then they pair her with one person to train her alone, be it a teacher for years or a newly introduced person her age. If you spend time with someone in close proximity and they are your only close contact, you will form an attachment. People tend to grow on you over time, so this course of action was an odd choice for me, because it obviously counteracted what they were trying to do.
  • The big final plan (which I won’t go into detail about) was reckless, could have backfired so badly and was purely based on a hunch. Never mind that we don’t fully understand what happened or why it was necessary exactly, but it seemed to be a cure all.

Finally, this may not have been everything I’d hoped it would be, but the writing was beautiful, especially when it came to the weather and plant life. I also really liked the little quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They were a nice touch and I don’t want to reveal anything, but loved how it came full circle in the final chapters. Something about them worked so well as affirmations, you didn’t even have to be a witch to feel like they could be helpful to you as well.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Very interesting concept and quick read, although it didn’t live up to my expectations!


Do you plan to read The Nature of Witches? What is your take on contemporary magical stories? Let’s talk!

Trailers You Might Have Missed … (May 17-23/2021)

I meant to post more this week, but … I didn’t? Evidently. BUT you can rest assured that there’s at least two book reviews coming before the end of the month, because I want to talk about them before they release and get you all excited. Now, on to the actual topic of the day though – trailers! There is going to be a lot of TV content, because all the upcoming seasons were teased by the network. Be prepared!

Read More »

Thursday Movie Picks: Cyberpunk

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. 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.

Last week was all about period dramas and this week we are moving on to cyberpunk! That’s quite the different aesthetic, but I’m going to try and not name the most obvious movies from the past years … although I will probably fail. We shall see!

Tron: Legacy

I’ve seen this movie in theaters a minimum of five times. I don’t know what it was (the Daft Punk soundtrack. It was the soundtrack for sure), but I just couldn’t get enough of it. I liked the actors and story and wasn’t too put off by the weird face capturing technology that just felt off. I’d watch this again over and over to be honest.

Treasure Planet

Why not add an animated movie, right? I don’t mention animation projects a lot, neither in this feature nor on the blog in general, but Treasure Planet was my everything when I was little. I had a huge robot figure and just wanted to go be a space pirate.

Divergent

They mucked up that adaptation series SO BAD. I think it had a lot of potential and it surely wasn’t perfect, because neither was the source material, but it could have been really great. Now it didn’t even get an end …


There’s so many other examples, like Blade Runner, Terminator, the Matrix series, Alita, etc. but I just felt like mentioning the movies above more. What are your favorite cyberpunk movies? Let’s chat!

Thursday Movie Picks – Period Dramas

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. 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.

This week is about period dramas! According to online definitions, a period drama is any television or film production set during a particular historic period that is characterized by clearly recognizable costumes, set design and props. What you consider to be a specific historic period, is up for interpretation though, but I think I’d say a minimum of about 100 years? But that’s just my thoughts! Let’s dive into my examples!

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is a film based on the memoirs and diaries of Vera Brittain, a nurse, writer, feminist and pacifist, who made it her mission to fight for the lives lost during World War I and for them to not be forgotten. The movie was absolutely heartbreaking to watch and while I could not get through her entire memoir, I understand why it was chosen to be adapted.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

The 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice was my first introduction to Jane Austen and I have loved watching and reading her material ever since. I think I’ve seen almost all the different adaptations of her work, except for the latest version of Emma, which I still plan to watch as soon as possible. Still, P&P has a special place in my heart.

The King

I know that The King is a Netflix movie, but I’m glad I got to see it in a theater. The visuals are really quite stunning, even if I did not love all aspects of the story and the characters. It will also forever be hilarious how Robert Pattinson butchered the French accent.

Summer in February

Summer in February is based on a real artist community from the UK. I honestly don’t know if I remember the movie or the book on this one, because I definitely read it first. It’s not the best movie out there, but I loved the cast and the deep dive into artists minds. That’s just something I always enjoy quite a lot.


What are some of your favorite period dramas? Let’s talk about that!