What If … Thor Were an Only Child? Episode Review

Once again, I’m a little late, but I have written a review for the latest episode of What If …? titled What If … Thor Were an Only Child? From here on forward, there will be spoilers for the episode!

What If ... Thor Were an Only Child?
credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Thor, who never had to compete with or set an example for his brother, turned out quite differently – he became the Party Prince of Asgard!

My thoughts?

We’ve established by now that I’m not the biggest fan of the show, so I don’t think we need to harp on it much more. I was, however, actually looking forward to Party-Thor, just because I knew it would be a more light-hearted episode and it didn’t disappoint in that regard. Then again, much like last week, this episode didn’t feel too imaginative to me. Did not having a brother really change Thor all that much, or were his parents just more lenient? I almost believe it’s the latter, but let’s just break down the episode bit by bit.

  • In this universe, Odin never adopted/kidnapped Loki and instead returned him to his birth father. This must have also quelled the war/animosity between Asgard and the Frost Giants, as it doesn’t seem to be an issue henceforth. This led to Thor and Loki growing up as friends, however, never as real brothers.

More than battles won or lost, it’s relationships that truly define a hero. The people who shape them, their stories.

What If ... Thor Were an Only Child?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Back on Earth Dr. Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis notice a pattern from outer space, guessing an alien invasion is about to happen. While they are right about the visitors being from somewhere else in the galaxy, it’s actually just Thor and his friend group deciding to go on a bender while Odin is asleep and Frigga is off to visit her sisters.
  • I’m not going to go into detail, but Thor turns the entire planet into an intergalactic party central and apparently once partied so hard on Alpha Star, it destroyed the whole thing. Jane, who met and fell in love with Thor in this version too (they even got matching tattoos), worries that he will accidentally be the end of Earth. Death by party?
What If ... Thor Were an Only Child?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • The cameos in this episode are almost boundless. You have several characters from the Thor movies (Korg, the Grandmaster, Skurge, …), The Guardians of the Galaxy (Drax, Mantis, Nebula, …) as well as Howard the Duck again. Howard even gets married to Darcy. I’m not joking. That happened!
What If ... Thor Were an Only Child?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Maria Hill, who is acting director of SHIELD after Fury had a run in with an overexcited Korg, is ready to bring in the big guns to fight Thor and calls in Captain Marval aka Carol Danvers. They have a fight around the globe, but ultimately it is Jane who stops Thor by ratting him out to his mother.
  • All the alien visitors help Thor clean up his mess on Earth, but he still gets caught. It nevertheless serves as a lesson to the God of Thunder to become more mature and he eventually asks out Jane on a real date. The end? Happily ever after? Not quite!
  • The final scene, because why would we ever just end on a happy note, showed an evil Ultron appearing with all infinity stones. What does it mean? Who even knows at this point …

I’m a little tired of the cliffhangers, BUT I am intrigued by this one in particular. The thing is, The Watcher seemed surprised by the end himself. So far, no matter how bleak the outcome, he always knew that it had to be the fate of that particular universe or character. However, at the end of the episode, he appeared to be flustered by the appearance of Ultron, possibly not expecting it. So, what could it mean?
I can’t help but wonder if this Ultron breached from a different universe, which would slowly fold into the Loki series storyline of the multiversal chaos we are about to witness. The only reason I’m hesitant to fully buy into this theory is that his infinity stones would effectively be useless if he were from another universe. At least in the comics, it is impossible for more than one set of infinity stones to exist in the same realm and remain powerful. It’s like they cancel each other out.
Another theory is that he might be from the future, which would still work, but not really explain the Watcher’s surprise. We might never get an answer, so this could potentially just remain another frustrating loose end, but there is a chance that this might be the first multi-chapter story within the What If …? stories. We shall see!

What If ... Thor Were an Only Child?
credit: Marvel Studios

PREVIOUSLY: WHAT IF …


What did you think of the episode? Did you enjoy it? Let’s talk!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Book Review)

Ace of Spades

Publisher: Usborne
Page Count
: 480

CW: racism, homophobia, bullying, hate crimes, forced outing, emotional abuse, mention of suicidal attempt, anxiety and panic attacks, torture, blackmailing, violence, stalking, gaslighting and murder

This review is brought to you by the sheer generosity of my good friend Marie @Drizzle and Hurricane Books. She hosted a giveaway and I was the lucky winner, getting to choose from books she had previously talked about on her blog. I picked Ace of Spades (you can read Marie’s review here) and have not regretted that choice one bit!

This book was FANTASTIC! It genuinely deserves all the hype and I’m currently trying to wrap my head around how I could possibly put my thoughts into coherent words. The premise is pretty straight forward: the only two black kids at Niveus Private Academy suddenly get targeted by an anonymous presence called “Ace” in their final year at the school. While people don’t grasp the connection at first, a thrilling tale unfolds that will keep you at the edge of your seat the entire time.

I loved the hints that were placed throughout, but how I was still shocked and surprised at every single revelation. Maybe, sometimes, it wasn’t so much because I didn’t think it was possible, but just because I didn’t want to see the knives in those kids’ backs get twisted in any further. I was rooting for them so much as they showed strength and vulnerability, where I am sure I would have crumbled to pieces already. I would have loved to burn down that entire school for what was happening to them.
While it’s easy to love Devon from the get go, it’s Chiamaka who grows on you over time, as you learn more about her. Both were so different, yet such compelling personalities in their own rights. They created the perfect balance for each other. But so did the book as a whole, in general. The writing kept me on my toes, made me turn page after page and managed to be engaging, chilling and disturbing all at once.

As much as it was a magnificent thriller, it was also an exceptional commentary on elitism, racism and the intersectionality of being queer and Black/a person of color.

My recommendation is to go into this book with as little knowledge as possible and to get yourself swept up in the mystery and emotions. I was riled up and sad and shocked. My range of emotions was really exploited to its full extent and that means I can’t put it any other way than calling this book a masterpiece. That end is going to keep a wicked smile on my face for a while, I believe.

Lastly, yes, this book really did combine Gossip Girl and Get Out in the best way possible, while completely staying its own story. Please, convince yourself of its magnificence!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! A fantastic and thrilling read. HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!


Have you read Ace of Spades? Do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

What If … Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark? Episode Review/Shang-Chi Movie Review

Wednesday is Marvel day on the blog! As fate will have it, I don’t just have a What If … review planned for you today, but also one for Shang-Chi! I hope you’re up for a little double-feature and ready for spoilers ahead.

What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

What if Tony Stark never had a change of heart and instead invited a villain into his life? Well, you’d get the plot of this episode.

My thoughts?

After the last two weeks, this episode felt a little bit lackluster to me. There’s really no other way to say this, but I’m extremely tired of having to watch Tony Stark die and while Erik “Killmonger” Stevens is a fascinating character, this didn’t add much to his arc. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s break it down:

Heroes are not born. They’re forged in darkness, shaped in battle, defined by sacrifice.

  • The age of Iron Man never comes to pass as Tony gets rescued by Erik “Killmonger” Stevens in Afghanistan and therefore never has a change of heart. Instead of rethinking Stark Industries entire business model, he basically believes it is necessary to just create more and better weapons.
  • To show his gratitude, Tony makes Killmonger first his new chief of security, but quickly promotes him to COO. While he believes to have found a like-minded soul, Erik has other plans.
What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Killmonger uses Tony to his advantage in several ways. First, he gets him to help build Project Liberator, war drones that fight like humans and look like something out of an anime (their reference, not mine). But he also uses Stark Industries to create a paper trail that leads to Tony rather than himself.
  • In an attempt to acquire vibranium for the drones, Erik sets up Rhodey as well as T’Challa and kills both in the process. After Tony finds out, because he’s still whip-smart, Erik also kills him, but stages it to make it look like the Dora Milaje did it in the name of Wakanda.
  • An outright war is about to start between the US and Wakanda, because of Killmonger’s meddling. But all of this was part of his plan, as he intends to use this situation to weasel his way into the griefing royal family of Wakanda and become the new Black Panther. He ultimately succeeds in getting that power, but T’Challa, on the astral plane, warns him that power unearned can be a very volatile force.
What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • At the end, we can see that the US military is still willing to fight Wakanda, whereas Pepper is at her wits end as to why people won’t believe that Killmonger was behind all of it. Luckily, Shuri shows up and they band together to expose Erik.

Heroes are never really gone. They live forever. As do the ones they inspire to carry on the fight.

As mentioned above, I wasn’t majorly impressed by the episode. All the characters are great, that’s not the issue, but I just didn’t feel like it added much to the narrative we already knew, aside from more people dying. And again, I’m tired of certain characters passing on this show over and over, because I don’t need to keep seeing that.

You all know this show is very hit or miss with me, so I hope you won’t take my very average response to heart too much. I just think that What If …? banks a lot on viewers nostalgia to get their story across and that, most of the time, the episodes themselves don’t warrant that much of an emotional or impressed response. I don’t think that their storytelling in general is that great, but I still wonder if this will play into the bigger MCU at all. In case it doesn’t, I’m not sure I will tune in to all the episodes of Season 2, which is confirmed.


PREVIOUSLY: WHAT IF …


SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS

I usually don’t pile on with reviews like that, but somehow, seeing that Tony’s arc technically had a lot to do with the Ten Rings, I thought it was only fitting I’d also include my Shang-Chi review today!

I kidd you not, I haven’t been to a cinema since February 2020, so this was a huge deal for me. The large screen, the giddy atmosphere, the shared experience, the popcorn (which just never tastes the same when you have to microwave a pack at home), the all around immersive feeling – I’m so very glad I got to celebrate my return to a movie theater with Shang-Chi.

Marvel movies fall into a very common storytelling structure each time, and Shang-Chi is no exception. On the one hand, the structure has proven to work, but on the other hand, it makes everything a little predictable. However, Shang-Chi works so well due to its fantastic cast, amazing fight choreography and the mix between banter and emotional hooks. The friendship between Simu Liu’s character and Awkwafina’s character was great, as they remained platonic throughout, but the film also showed really amazing familial relationships. As far as MCU origin movies go, this is really on the upper end of the spectrum.

At this point, the whole Marvel lore is so vast and interconnected, I know that it has taken out the joy for some people. I love that there wasn’t any previous knowledge necessary to watch Shang-Chi. Yes, you would miss references to Iron Man movies, Doctor Strange characters and the likes, but does it really matter? The story stands on its own and will continue within the universe (seriously can’t wait for more of these characters to come!!!), but also works as a standalone movie.

Little tip: there’s one mid-credit and one after-credit scene. Just in case the light turns on after the first one, like it did in my theater, and a bunch of people leave and miss the second one.

more of these three, pretty please!

What are your thoughts on the episode and the movie? Let’s talk!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #65

The motto of today’s watching-round-up is pretty easy – I watched a bunch of bad movies, so you wouldn’t have to. Although I suspect a lot of you might have checked them out regardless, because you were curious or the hype was too much. Well, let’s see what my thoughts were on the following films.

Afterlife of the Party

This kind of movie is right up my alley! I’m not going to lie to you, while it was very cliche on a number of levels and Victoria Justice’s acting is sub-par, I ended up really liking it.

If you can look past some of the overly dramatic and loud performances, there’s some really beautiful parts in there. I especially enjoyed Midori Francis’ character and her love story as well as the healing family moments. Midori Francis, in general, is someone I really like to watch on screen and if you haven’t yet seen it, I recommend you watch Dash & Lily (also on Netflix). While everything ended really conveniently and almost laughably in the final scene, I did shed a tear in the end, so, it must have touched me in some way..

Cinderella

Alright, so … where do I start? I went into this movie with super low expectations and the intention of not taking it seriously at all and that kind of worked for me. There’s a lot of British comedians I like in there (James Acaster, Rob Beckett, Doc Brown, Romesh Ranganathan …), who had me laughing, but I’d be lying if I said this was a good movie.

They were trying really hard to make it more modern and give it a boss girl vibe, but it seemed forced and there shouldn’t be anything inherently anti-feminist about wanting to get married. I don’t know, maybe that’s just my opinion. The music was alright in a jukebox-y kind of way, but I was surprised by how little I liked some of the voices, despite there being actual professional singers in the roles at times.

Let’s just say that it was an okay movie and if you have a terrible sense of humor like me, you’ll probably laugh more than the movie really warrants. However, it’s not great and there’s something about it that just feels very self-indulgent on Camila Cabello’s part. I don’t really see her as an actress.

He’s All That

Let me be clear – you cannot take a movie from the 90s, gender-swap it and add some social media to it and call it a day. The parts that were cringey back then and barely worked are not going to suddenly make more sense now. That is my honest opinion and I could not sit through the entire movie at regular speed, so I watched it at 1.5.

Nothing about this whole movie seemed genuine. The message gets completely lost, since the girl is still constantly on her phone broadcasting her life at the end of the movie and I did not see the point of it whatsoever. However, apparently Netflix would rather be talked about badly than not at all, so they struck a multi-movie deal with Addison Rae, who cannot act. I’ll just ignore those movies from here on out and will continue to watch Tanner Buchanan on Cobra Kai.

The Voyeurs

TW: suicide, nudity, voyeurism

Movies where people have watched their neighbors and thus seen a crime (of passion or otherwise) happen and then had to deal with it have been done many a time before. I appreciated that The Voyeurs didn’t go the predictable route and really surprised me towards the end, but that movie made zero sense. Everyone who watched it was really confused at the way they decided to end the story and where they stopped telling what was happening. I don’t want to give anything away for those that are curious, but it felt like parts were missing and that made it very unsatisfying.

Also, it was aesthetically quite pleasing to watch, despite a bit too much nudity for my taste, but I do not need close-ups of eyeballs followed up by cooked eggs anymore. Thank you.

Shows I Watch Weekly

This is the part where I talk about the shows that I watch each week and that are still ongoing. It’s my way of not forgetting them, because I can’t binge them in one go.

Good Trouble (Season 3 Finale) – I’m pissed, because every single character was in a love triangle (or work triangle or whatever) throughout the season and they resolved NOTHING in the final episode. No storyline was concluded, everything is still open and I don’t get why.

Roswell, New Mexico (Season 3) – It’s no secret that Maria DeLuca is my favorite character on the show and all I want is for her to not constantly get hurt. Well, they’ve put her in a coma for the past couple of episodes, which means I’m pissed. I just want her to go on cutesy dates with Gregory Manes. Let me have my ship!

Ted Lasso (Season 2) – This show remains a favorite in every imaginable way! The episode titled “Man City” was one of the best thus far and I cannot wait for the remainder of the season. It just packs such an emotional punch and just goes deeper each week. I love it with my whole freaking heart.

Stargirl (Season 2) – I like that the stakes feel higher again. So far, I’m still not as invested as I was last year, but the change to the CW network hasn’t hurt the story entirely. The best episode was still when Sportsmaster and Tigress briefly left their respective prisons to be parents. Love that one!


Have you watched anything mentioned above? Do you want? Let’s talk!

What If … Zombies!? Episode Review

Wednesday remains Marvel review day, even if I might post a little later in the day. As a warning, this will likely happen for several weeks to come, as my schedule has changed a bit. BUT reviews are still happening. Today we talk about What If … Zombies!? and spoilers are ahead from here on out!

What If ... Zombies!?
credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

When Bruce Banner falls to Earth to warn everyone about Thanos’ arrival, he finds a planet entirely changed and now inhabited by … zombies.

My thoughts?

I genuinely thought last week’s episode was dark, but this one was equally (if not partially more) sinister. In general, I was never a huge fan of the zombie genre, but I was curious to see what they would do with it paired with the Avengers and it was a lot of fun. I don’t have a comparison to the comic book storyline (because yes, there were zombies in the comics too), but it worked alright for me. That is … until the once again, super open and ambiguous end. I vowed not to complain so much about the episodes feeling rushed (which they still do), but I also haven’t made peace with the fact that it’s never really a closed story. Sometimes an open end is great, but sometimes … I just don’t know what to do with it. But let’s start at the beginning!

  • Just like in Infinity War, Bruce Banner crashes into the Sanctum Sanctorum to warn everyone of Thanos’ arrival. However, in this reality, Bruce finds Earth changed and seemingly deserted. That is until Bruce’s henchmen arrive to start a fight, just to be surprised by superpowered zombies in the shape of Tony Stark, Wong and Doctor Strange. It’s not often that I see zombies retain the abilities they had before they were changed.
What If ... Zombies!?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Bruce eventually gets saved by Hope van Dyne, Strange’s cape and Peter Parker as we find out what happened on Earth.
  • In this version of events, Hank Pym also went to find his missing wife in the quantum realm, but the reunion went quite differently. Janet van Dyne contracted a quantum virus that corrupted her brain (aka turned her into a zombie) and because of her daughter’s unrelenting search for her, she managed to bring the virus back to our realm and infect large groups in no time. Once the Avengers joined the fight and got turned as well, the fate of humanity was more or less sealed. 
  • If only it weren’t for a small group of survivors that still carried that torch of hope. In a very curious constellation, Hope van Dyne, Peter Parker, Happy, Bucky Barnes, Kurt (one of Scott’s friends, if you struggled to remember him as well), Sharon Carter and Okoye as well as Bruce Banner now, all found themselves in New York, willing to give their all to save the planet.
  • The group gets a beacon that tells them that a potential cure has been found and in an attempt to get there, they lose a couple members. I have to say that, despite the scenes being fairly brief, the violence was definitely upped quite a bit. I never thought that I’d have to watch Sam get cut in half from top to bottom and Bucky react entirely nonchalantly, but here we are. I mean, he literally said “I should be sad, but I’m not”. To me, there were several quite gruesome moments.
  • Only Peter, Bruce, Bucky, Okoye and Kurt make it to the base that is supposed to hold the cure, just to find Vision there. He found out that his mind stone creates an aversion within the zombies, which ultimately led him to test his theory. He was able to save Scott, but only his head. A head that keeps floating around and just telling dad jokes. Typical Scott!
  • This is where Marvel really twists in the knife though! When everyone gets excited about potentially saving humanity, Vision turns dark. In reality, he has been luring people to his hideout in order to feed his zombie bride – Wanda. She is too strong and her zombie-condition can’t be cured, so he instead contained her and fed her, even holding T’Challa hostage.
What If ... Zombies!?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • I did not expect to get another appearance of Chadwick as T’Challa, but my heart sang again. This wasn’t nearly as happy as the last episode he was in, but yeah, I’ll take what I can get.
  • Ultimately, Vision can’t betray everyone he knows, while he also can’t let go of Wanda. He opts to destroy himself and give up the mind stone to the others, rather than leave her or kill her himself.
  • A Hulk vs. zombie Scarlet Witch fight ensues, while Peter, Scott’s head and T’Challa are the only ones making it off the base with the mind stone. Thankfully, Wakanda’s shields were strong enough to not have them fall pray to the zombie apocalypse. So, technically, there is still hope that they can fabricate a cure, if only it wasn’t for the small little detail everyone forgot – Thanos arrival.
  • The episode ends with an image of a zombie Thanos, who is wearing an infinity gauntlet with a full set of stones. To me, that means he defeated the remaining people in Wakanda and got the mind stone. I’m assuming his plans for the use of the gauntlet changed with his turn to a zombie, but I don’t know. I could speculate and form a dozen theories, but that’s the frustrating thing with these episodes sometimes. The end could mean basically anything and everything.
What If ... Zombies!?
credit: Marvel Studios

What did I learn from this episode? I still remember this thing going around TikTok or Twitter, where someone said that heroes would always sacrifice their love in order to save the world, whereas villains would burn down everything rather than let you go. Well, I think the What If … multiverse proves that our heroes are definitely willing to let it all go to hell for their loved ones. Just some more food for thought, because as the watcher said, all these stories (most of which often turn to a form of horror) started with love and hope/Hope.

Something I appreciate a lot with these episodes is how they replicate certain shots from the bigger MCU in animation. It was especially notable with Captain Carter’s episode, but continued to be utilized throughout the season thus far. This time around, for example, we saw a corrupted Steve Rogers still use his shield and it looked marred by blood, just like it did when John Walker misused it in TFATWS. It’s very smart cinematography, because it easily creates a connection and possible emotional memory to something familiar, but in a very subtle way.

In general, this episode offered a lot of imagery hinting at the fate of characters in different realities. There was Peter with the cloak/cape and him being Spider Supreme in another universe. Then there was Bucky with the shield (“guess this is the end of the line”), stepping up as the new “Captain America” in this version. It’s the little things that often only last a couple seconds, but that can be meaningful to viewers (although Sam is my Captain. Sorry not sorry).

Ultimately, I liked the episode, but I’ve enjoyed others even more. Maybe I’m not the right audience for an anthology series like this, but we’ve made it to episode 5 (which I believe to be the halfway point of the season), so I’m going to keep going with these little reviews/recaps.


PREVIOUSLY: WHAT IF …


What did you think of this episode? Did you like this take on zombies? What are your thoughts? Let’s chat!

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (Book Review)

The Atlas Six Book Cover

Publisher: self-published
Page Count
: 461

CW: death, murder, degenerative diseases, suicide, sex scenes (not explicit), manipulation and psychological trauma

This book blew my mind in the best of ways! I finished it mere moments ago and I have absolutely no idea how to feel, other than I cannot wait for the sequel to release next year.

“Knowledge is carnage. You can’t have it without sacrifice.”

Although a couple of my friends and fellow bloggers have loved The Atlast Six, I was still trying to go into it with fairly low expectations. From experience, nothing kills the enjoyment of reading a book more than it being hyped too much, but it barely took me a couple pages until I was completely enthralled in what was happening. There is some rich worldbuilding, however it isn’t initially clear who knows about what kind of magic, as it seems to be omnipresent in the world and almost like an open secret. Just like the candidates, you get thrown into this new life and have to figure out a lot of it on your own, often being met with closed doors which harbor secrets behind them. While there was mystery, it only propelled me forward to read more rather than put me off with frustration, which was nice.

“We study the realm of consciousness because we understand that to decide something, to weigh a cost and accept its consequences, is to forcibly alter the world in some tangible way. That is magic as true and as real as any other.”

What drives a lot of the story are the characters. Even though I think you can sense which ones the author preferred in the way the POVs were written, I found all of them equally as interesting. You might not like everyone and I definitely had a personal preference in characters (Libby and Tristan, hello?), but I never felt that kind of dread that can easily come with books that are written from various points of view. Even when I wasn’t a big fan of a character, I still found value in their thoughts and observations, they were all so uniquely complex. All the more fascinating were the relationships between the candidates and the people in their orbit. While I could guess some developments, I still felt that it was all written in a very satisfying way, making me crave more of them in the process.

“A flaw of humanity,” said Parisa, shrugging. “The compulsion to be unique, which is at war with the desire to belong to a single identifiable sameness.”

If I had to criticize one thing, it would be the fact that I was often confused about how much time had passed. As the story had proven several times, time isn’t exactly linear and it was actually a field of study for the candidates of the Society, but I still never really got a feeling for it within the story, which felt disorienting. Sometimes there would be mere days between chapters and then entire months. That was the one thing I found hard to keep track of. It also took the candidates way too long to figure out what the fate of the eliminated person would be, but I won’t hold it against them. Who likes to think about sacrifices like that?

Still, in the end, I would love to dive into the sequel right away. I fell in love with the secrets and intricate dynamics. I want to know more so bad, having possibly been poisoned by the library and knowledge a little bit myself. It was such a fantastic read that I can sense will linger in the back of my mind for a while now.

“The problem with knowledge, is its inexhaustible craving. The more of it you have, the less you feel you know.”

Lastly, something that made the book even more unique were some really gorgeous illustrations of the characters by Little Chmura! I adore that kind of attention to detail!

Lowkey considering getting the The Atlas Six character art print from Little Chmura’s Redbubble shop (click here)!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! I want more right now, always and forever. The world and characters sucked me in completely!


Have you read The Atlas Six? Do you plan to? What’s the last book that completely enthralled you? Let’s talk about that!

What If … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? Episode Review

It’s Wednesday and we all know this means it’s time for another Marvel review! Today we’re talking about What If … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?, so continue at your own peril. Spoilers ahead!

What If ... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Doctor Strange’s entire life changes when he loses Doctor Christine Palmer in an accident rather than his motor skills.

My thoughts?

So, that was quite something! Maybe I will really like every other What If …? reality more than the previous one. This episode truly felt like the Marvel version of a Black Mirror story and I didn’t mind it. That obviously means that the ending was quite depressing, which probably won’t be to everyone’s liking, but if you think about it, it is also not very likely that every reality in the multiverse is a happy one. Let’s break down the events of What If … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?

  • Stephen Strange and Christine Palmer were on a date. They were goofing off, clearly having a great relationship, when the dreadful car accident happens. Instead of Stephen losing the precise motor skills in his surgeon hands, he loses Christine, the love of his life, instead.
  • I thought it was interesting that his grief for her sent him on the same journey as the despair about his hands did. He traveled the world, eventually trained in the mystic arts and became the Sorcerer Supreme. However, it’s after that, where the story really changes.
What If ... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Unable to let go of the past, Stephen uses the Eye of Agamotto to travel back in time and redo his date with Christine. No matter what he tries, even if he stays away completely, she always dies though. Her death turning out to be an absolute point in time, unchangeable and irreversible.
  • The Ancient One tries to warn and explain to Stephen that he is endangering the entire universe with his obsession, but they fight and he escapes to the lost library of Cagliostro. There, in the midst of all the hidden mystic knowledge, he learns that he can reverse an absolute point in time, but will need more power. This power can be absorbed from other beings. While a regular person would probably stop at the thought of consuming creatures, Doctor Strange goes on to absorb every powerful being, small or big, he can find (yes, the tentacle monster from What If … Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? makes a reappearance) for centuries.
  • What this version of Doctor Strange wasn’t prepared for was the fact that his last interaction with the Ancient One led to a split timeline. All the while he got stronger, there was another half of him, who hadn’t chosen to change time, running around and still being good. This means we got a Doctor Strange vs. Doctor Strange face off.
What If ... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Where a usual Disney or happy storyline would have the good Stephen, the hero, win, this story is not that. The evil and now monstrous looking Doctor Strange cannot convince his counterpart to help him save Christine. So, instead, he even consumes himself, ultimately resurrecting Christine into a crumbling universe.
  • Christine doesn’t recognize Stephen when she comes to. He looks like an amalgamation of all the monsters and creatures he consumed, having no resemblance of his former self anymore. But worst of all, his entire effort was for nothing as Christine starts to disintegrate with the rest of the universe. He had broken the fabric of his reality to the point of no return. Even begging the Watcher himself to help resulted in nothing. So, Stephen created a bubble to shield him and Christine from the destruction, but in the end, he was all alone in vast nothingness.
What If ... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
credit: Marvel Studios

Something I enjoyed a lot during What If … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? is the fact that The Watcher was involved, albeit he did not intervene. In one of the earlier scenes, The Watcher talked to us and told us that Stephen was on the wrong path. He could intervene, but the safety of one universe was not more important than the others, while he also didn’t think that Strange would actually listen. However, Stephen did hear him and later directly talked to him. As I said last week, he seems to get more present in the storylines each week. Be it in the imagery or by actually talking with the characters now. I wonder if this will amp up even more in the future.

While I still think that the episodes deserve to be longer to make full use of the storylines and the potential emotional impact, it worked better here than with some previous ones. Once again, there were some fun visual and dialogue references to movies we know. There was a whole montage of how Stephen learned his craft and jokes about his name and hilarious moments with the cloak. At the end of all of this, I might do a personal ranking of all the What If …? episodes. Would anyone be interested in that?


PREVIOUSLY: WHAT IF …


What did you think of this episode? Did it shake you in any way? Did you agree with my opinion? Let’s talk!

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (ARC Review)

Dark and Shallow Lies Cover

Publisher: Razorbill
Page Count
: 432
Release Date: September 7, 2021

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

CW: mention of suicide and self-harm, domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse, graphic murder, death of children, hurricane/natural disaster

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve found myself drawn to darker and darker material as of late and ever since I read the blurb of this supernatural YA thriller, I knew I was going to love sinking into this world. Rich in atmosphere and magic, it still takes a while until you find your footing. While it’s a very interesting setting and concept, the beginning is a bit messy as you don’t completely understand what has been happening. Grey, our main character and narrator, is a decent guide though and introduces us to all the key players one by one … and there really are quite a few.

I think Dark and Shallow Lies did an amazing job in portraying Grey’s confusion and grief due to the disappearance of her best friend and “twin flame” Elora. Not every decision will be rational when your heart is broken and reeling, so I decided to not be too harsh on her for her constantly changing feelings towards people.
Seen as she is the only one who lives away from La Cachette outside of the summer season, it felt natural that there was a bit of distance between her and the events of the past months. However, the story focused a lot on her potential love interests as well as her dependancy and need for certain people and not so much on the other “summer children”, which would have been a bit more interesting for me. They all have different powers and are supposedly inseparable, but we were mostly told about that instead of it being shown. No matter how often they said they loved each other more and in a different way than they could ever love anyone else, they sure didn’t seem as distressed about their dwindling numbers as they should have in my eyes.

The build up of the mystery was great and left you wondering about what happened for quite a while. Sometimes you might feel like you would want a quicker progression in the case, but I was so sucked into the story, I flew through it either way and just loved exploring every new page. Ultimately, everything does make sense! When the puzzle pieces eventually fit together and everything falls into place, you can’t help but think “of course, what else could it have been!?”, which I think is always a satisfying experience. More than anything, this book seems to be a lesson on trusting your gut instinct when you think something isn’t quite right. I still wish that some aspects were explored further and I’m missing one key explanation about a certain character, but I also wasn’t massively disappointed in the end.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I decided to round up because of the atmosphere, although I think it could have dug deeper.


Do you plan on reading Dark and Shallow Lies? Are you into magical YA thrillers? Let’s talk!

What If … The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? Episode Review

Wednesdays are mostly our Marvel review days on the blog, so it’s time to talk about today’s episode of What If …? called What If … The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? There will be spoilers from here on out, so proceed with caution.

What If ... Nick Fury
credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

What if someone eliminated the candidates for the Avengers initiative before they ever had a chance to band together? 

My thoughts?

I’m really feeling like I’m having my ups and downs with this show. While I tremendously enjoyed the plot of last week, I was somewhat disappointed with this episode. It wasn’t just the way it felt rushed in the short run time, but it also seemed like the real story only started once it ended. Let us break down what the episode was about!

  • The episode covered the span of a week, with every day more or less featuring the death of one of the Avengers. It all started with Tony Stark’s demise, which Black Widow got framed for. Then, it continued with the assassination of Thor by the hand of Hawkeye, who, just like Black Widow, claims innocence, which was followed by his own death. After that the Hulk literally exploded and even Natasha got found after her escape from SHIELD’s capture and taken down. Nick Fury (alongside Agent Coulson) seemed to be the only one left standing.
Black Widow
credit: Marvel Studios
  • I was somewhat surprised to see Doctor Ross, which is silly, because of course she is part of Bruce’s story, but we haven’t seen her in so long. In fact, in the live action version with the character being portrayed by Mark Ruffalo, she has never even been mentioned.
  • I didn’t see the point of rehashing each death in detail, as few of them have lasting consequences within the episode, except for Thor’s passing. His death prompts Loki to arrive on Earth with an army, vowing to revenge his brother. Fury manages to strike a deal with him by offering him the real assassin in return for leaving the planet in peace.
Thor and his glorious hair
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Natasha, before her final battle, managed to give Fury a hint at who was behind the attacks. She called him and told him that it was all about Hope. We, as devoted MCU viewers, obviously knew right away that it had to do with Hope van Dyne, but she really couldn’t have just told him the full name instead of repeating her first name twice on the message? Seems inefficient to me.
  • In this universe, Hope was an agent of SHIELD, just like her mother before her. They both died on missions, which left a grieving Hank Pym unable to deal with his emotions. He, in his suit could manipulate all the situations without being seen, therefore being the real culprit. He got tricked by Loki, who disguised himself as Fury to coax out a confession, and eventually got taken in by the Asgardian army.
  • Loki wouldn’t be Loki if he didn’t betray someone. So, despite Fury honoring his deal with the trickster God, Loki decides to stay on Earth and without anyone stopping him and a full army to back him, he manages to take over the rule of the planet within a day.
Loki on Earth
credit: Marvel Studios
  • It was odd to see Fury and Coulson so non-chalantly dealing with the alien invasion. However, the episode ends with Captain Marvel showing up for back up and Coulson looking at the frozen shield of Captain America. Maybe in this universe he was never unthawed? We literally don’t find out more as this is where it all fades to black.
  • What I noticed within the episode was that the Watcher was present in the sky/background a lot more obviously than in previous stories. I don’t know why it stood out so much here, but it did. I still wonder if he will really just remain someone to tell us tales or if he will eventually be involved in something as well.

As you can see, I kept that a lot shorter than with previous Marvel reviews or recaps, but I really wasn’t that impressed by the episode. Wouldn’t the meat of the story be about how Fury has to find alternate Avengers team members? How did Loki manage to conquer Earth in a day? There seemed to be exactly zero pushback from anyone as he spoke in front of the UN, which could possibly be because of his large armada, but come on. That was way too easy!

I have no idea what next week’s episode will be about, as I think they’ve only revealed the first three in advance, but I hope it will be something I can be more enthusiastic about again. Not even the funny quips about Thor’s glorious hair could keep me entertained for long here. Maybe I just also didn’t want to watch all the Avengers die … again. See you for more next week!


PREVIOUSLY: WHAT IF …


What did you think of this episode? Did you like it? Did you agree with my opinion? Let’s talk!

Take Me with You When You Go by David Levithan/Jennifer Niven (ARC Review)

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: August 31, 2021

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

CW: parental neglect, parental abandonment, physical abuse, domestic violence

I have always been an ardent fan of David Levithan’s writing, with his books appearing on this blog plenty a time. However, I do believe that he does some of his best writing whenever he embarks on a journey with a fellow author, which had my curiosity piqued for this one. Although I know a few titles that Jennifer Niven has written, I hadn’t read any of her work before this book, but I still wasn’t about to pass up on the chance to see these two create a story together. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed!

Take Me with You When You Go is entirely told in emails. It’s a style of narration I absolutely adore, but also something that’s not always easy to pull off. The tricky part is to tell a story, without making it seem too constructed. The language has to evoke feelings and reflect a way people would actually write personal emails instead of how you would write dialogue in a book. I think Take Me with You When You Go handled it well for the most part, although I sometimes wasn’t as immersed in the longer messages as I would have liked to be.

It’s easy to get invested in the fate of Bea and Ezra. Their bond is quickly established and you more or less fly through the pages, hoping they make it out alright on the other end. The situation they had to grow up in is never easy to come to terms with and you shouldn’t have to, because there was nothing okay about it. And still, while reading, it never felt like it got too heavy or weighed me down too much, possibly because of the style of writing that was so easy to follow. Also, I really enjoyed all the Avengers references, because yes, please, talk Marvel to me! That’s my language!

While reading, I feel like you might get frustrated with the siblings’ behavior at times, but simultaneously, it all makes so much sense. Bea, especially, makes it hard at first, because her decisions seem selfish, but become more understandable the more you learn about her. The trauma they both endured made them clam up and build walls, no well-being person could simply climb over them. However, it was beautiful to watch them take charge of the situation and accept help, letting people in who were on their side. 

Something I credit the book highly for is that they put resources for people seeking help at the end of the novel (at least my copy). When dealing with such a real life issue, I appreciate the effort of not just discussing it through fiction, but also including ways to aid people who are actually suffering through these bad circumstances.

While I think many readers will believe that they know where Bea and Ezra’s journey will take them, there are plenty of surprises along the way. This book comes without much fuss, but still manages to pack quite the message. I’d love to leave you with a quote (and also little lesson) that stayed with me after reading to end this review:

It’s wonderful, when someone sees you, the real you, but – and this may be the most profound thing I’ve ever thought or said – maybe the most important thing is seeing yourself.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! A quiet but impacting book!


Do you plan on reading Take Me with You When You Go? Have you read other books by Levithan and/or Niven? Let’s talk!