Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: May 1, 2021

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

CW: underage drinking

Any Place But Here is my first encounter with Sarah Van Name’s writing and I immediately felt drawn into the world of her characters. You meet June and Jess at an evening that feels like it could be any night of the week for them, beyond tipsy and definitely drunk, just that it’s at a school venue and things are spiraling fast after they get discovered with booze in the bathroom.

After that, no matter what June says, her parents don’t trust her anymore and send her off to live with her grandmother (lovingly called Oma, which is also what I have always called my grandmothers too) to attend an all-girls-school. In the beginning, I struggled a bit with that punishment. I understand the concern of June’s parents and the way they mostly blame it on her “friendship” with Jess, but June is literally a straight A studen and … I come from a country where the legal drinking age is 16, so I always roll my eyes a bit at American laws. Of course, there is a difference between drinking responsibly and just getting wasted and I don’t condone the reckless kind since I’m not much of a drinker myself, but it’s always a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around why it is such a huge deal. I literally had bartending classes at my school when I was 16, but I’m veering off course. This conflict sets up the rest of the novel and does so really well.

Who would want to leave behind everyone they know, including the person they care about most, to live in a town where they know no one and nothing ever happens? I can tell you that the answer is not June.

As we see the world through her eyes, it quickly becomes clear that June’s relationship with Jess was more than “just” a friendship. Whenever she speaks about her, their shared bond seems undeniable, but the longer they spend apart, the harder it becomes. And you also start to wonder what held them together in the first place. Things become even trickier when June’s new friends bring up the question of her sexuality (in an intimate and non-pressure related setting) and June has no real answer for it, especially since she finds herself drawn to one of the new acquaintances. I find it’s not often that bisexuality is explored in young adult books, but I enjoyed the way it was done here.

I have spent my fair share of time away from family and friends and I always felt like I was a different person when I came back. Sometimes I was shocked to see how much had changed in my absence, other times I found myself annoyed with the lack of change in my environment when I felt so utterly different. This book perfectly mirrored my emotions and dealt with how hard it can be to let go or fight to keep someone in your life. It’s always a decision you have to make and sometimes you don’t ultimately get what you want.

When you meet new people that enrich your day to day and you find new hobbies that bring you joy, it can be hard to arrange and combine this with your old life. Things change and so do people. Aside from this beautiful exploration of love and friendship, it was also a great but nonchalant portrayal of family. The messiness of it, but the love that was woven through all decisions really warmed my heart. Even with them being miles apart, June’s younger siblings were always present in her thoughts and the struggle with her parents was so relatable. They always made her feel like she had to compete for their approval, but when she lived with her grandmother she experienced such a different parenting style and through that could actually find things she enjoyed.

Overall, I loved being on this ride with June and seeing her find her own way. It also got me really interested in photography, which I didn’t expect, but hey, maybe I’ll find my own Sam there.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A great read about changing relationships, family and expectations. Enjoyed it a lot!


I know the release is still a while away, but could you see yourself pick up Any Place But Here? Have you had experiences with toxic relationships? Let’s talk about it!

Soulswift by Megan Bannen (Book Review)

Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Page Count
: 480

Honest question: Why has no one told me about this book before!?!?

I’m definitely not the most up to date person when it comes to book releases, but after reading the marvel that is Soulswift, I can whole-heartedly say that this book deserves more attention. I’m going to do my very best to not spoil anything for you, while still trying to convince you to pick up this book in the near future!

First off, I want to point out that Soulswift is a standalone fantasy, which is a rare bird to come across anyway (pun fully intended). So very often, you have to brace yourself for multiple volumes to release over an extended period of time to get to your conclusion, but somehow Bannen managed to pack a fully formed story, neither rushed nor dragging, into this one single book. I am in awe of that woman’s writing!

Stories about faith, even made up ones, are never easy in my opinion. There is such a fine line between religious fanaticism that feels harmful and a naivete towards the world and other beliefs that might be frustrating and annoying at times (although it didn’t feel annoying to me here), but offers great potential for growth. Bannen allowed us to draw our own conclusions, hearing different aspects and exploring the various angles. It felt very natural for the world she created and I loved that I knew that there were always going to be three sides to the belief system: Gelya’s version, Tavik’s story and the truth.

Why should I worship something that cares so little for me, or for you?

As I moved through Soulswift, I found myself attached to Gelya and Tavik more and more. Their enemies to friends to lovers dynamic and banter was endearing like nothing else, but they were also great characters on their own accords. They both have to overcome a vast amount of prejudice and yet their bond is so strong and frankly beautiful. You will weep for these characters, without a shadow of a doubt, because they are so strong and dedicated and devoted. By the end, it’s just a question of who to.

Aside from really enjoying the religious aspect, the created world and the characters, it was the small things that made this novel stand out for me. It challenged gender norms and stereotypes without throwing it in your face, but rather letting the characters question their world view through dialogue and realistic situations. For example, I cannot recall another Fantasy novel where a character got her period while on the road, which wasn’t dismissed here, but also not made into this awkward big deal. I really appreciated that!

Life and Death
All things in balance.

Why wouldn’t this book be for you?

Aside from the topic of faith, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, be it fictional or not, the ending isn’t something every reader will love either. I’m fully in the camp “a good ending doesn’t mean a happy ending”, but if you seek a story that will leave you warm and joyful, this is not it. I’m not saying it ends it utter devastation, because everything makes sense and is very beautiful in its own way, but also tragic. So very tragic and sad. I cried.

fly, little soulswift, fly

Fazit: 5/5 stars! 100% one of my new all-time favourites!!!


Could I convince you to take a look at Soulswift? Was it on your radar before? Let’s talk!

WandaVision: Episode 6 “All-New Halloween Spooktacular” Review

You know the drill by now! These reviews/recaps are all full of SPOILERS and meant to be read after you have watched the episode in order not to ruin any surprises.

Disclaimer: I watched the episode and wrote this under the influence of sedatives and painkillers after my wisdom tooth removal, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

While Wanda and her newly arrived brother celebrate Halloween with the twins, Vision does some investigation of his own. In the meantime, Monica, Darcy and Jimmy get kicked off the S.W.O.R.D. site.

My thoughts?

I loved that the recap for the episode clearly showed how Quicksilver is supposed to look, just in case anyone missed the change in cast the last time. But even more so, I enjoyed the very Malcolm-in-the-Middle-intro and the twins narrating their day, just like Malcolm would have – we have arrived in the 90s!

The setting being Halloween, offered the possibility for so many easter eggs, aside from the fact that the first Vision and Scarlet Witch comic book issues took place around that time of the year. Everyone, including the twins, who have just discovered their powers (Speed and Wiccan confirmed – yay!), got a chance to show off their retro comic book outfits in the guise of the festivities.

credit: Marvel Studios

As I mentioned above, I am a little under the weather, so I am gonna try and keep my observations brief. Let’s once again start with what’s happening outside of Westview:

  • We don’t know Hayward’s backstory, but he really lost all faith in Earth’s “heroes” after the snap it seems. Why he would be allowed to head an organisation that mainly deals with non-normal individuals, I do not know, but he seems very bitter – leading him to kick out our favourite new trio (Monica, Jimmy and Darcy) after they’ve clearly stated their allegiance to Wanda.
  • Who else was pleasantly surprised by Jimmy Woo’s fighting skills? Just me? Okay.
  • As Monica, Jimmy and Darcy continue their investigation on their own and learn that Hayward is hiding the extent of knowledge he has about the hex area, Monica again mentions someone who will help her out with a vehicle that can get them into the area. I can’t help but wonder if we get to look forward to another fun cameo.
  • Monica being inside the anomaly has altered her DNA on a molecular level – will this be the trigger for her superpowers and turn her into Spectrum or whatever iteration they choose?

Obviously, there was something else and very important happening, but let’s get into that in the next section.

credit: Marvel Studios

Now, what has been happening inside Westview:

  • There are now children in Westview! We still don’t know where they were kept this entire time, but my theory that the adults were playing along “for the children” (as mentioned in episode 3) could work. Then again, we did find out that Wanda kept families and couples together when she created her own world.
  • I am so confused about Pietro Maximoff! He does seem to have some of the MCU’s Pietro’s memories as well as the same look when he uses his powers. However, his personality does seem to be closer to the X-Men one. But, what if he is neither?
    The longer I watched him, the more I could see him being someone different entirely (Mephisto? Nightmare? Both of them combined??). He does call the twins demon spawns, which might seem like a fun joke, but would be a fitting reference to Mephisto. Also, he just knows too much? Whenever Wanda tests or questions him, he does seem to have an answer. His “jokes” are often cruel, which does not feel fitting to either iteration of Quicksilver, and most of all he didn’t think there was anything ethically wrong with what Wanda was doing, he just wanted to know how she did it.
    Also, during one of the 4th wall breaks of the twins, he looked directly at Billy (maybe he is not affected by the TV world constraints?). His interest in the twins in general is a bit disconcerting if he isn’t who he claims to be.
  • If you noticed Wanda and Pietro saying “Kick-Ass” is a noticeable way, it’s probably because Aaron Taylor-Johnson as well as Evan Peters were in that movie and it was a really nice nod to both of them.

Ad Break: This ad was very strange and morbid. A kid on a desolate island gets Yo-Magic yogurt from a shark, but due to being too weak and hungry, can’t open it and dies. This could have several meanings, one is that the people who are not close to Wanda’s magic (e.g. those living at the edge of town, barely moving) are bound to die OR that someone is feeding off of Wanda’s magic (because she felt all alone in the world after Vision passed).
The definite meaning is still unclear, but I did notice a trend with each ad, which is that they all focus on a different infinity stone. If my theory is right, we’d have one more stone to go.

  • toaster: looks like Visions head therefore the mind stone?
  • Strücker watch: time stone?
  • Hydra Soak: soap is a blue cube like the teseract – space stone?
  • paper towels: red liquid reminiscent of the reality stone?
  • lonely island with skeleton (Red Skull on Vormir) – soul stone?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • While Wanda is off testing Pietro and spending Halloween with the kids, Vision gets to the outer edges of town and sees that people are looping there, barely moving and visibly in pain. He also encounters Agnes there, who got lost on the way to the town square and got stuck as well.
    When Vision let’s her real persona surface, she asks if he is here to help as part of the Avengers, which he doesn’t remember, and then reminds him of his own fate. He eventually lets her return to her TV persona, but is ever more determined to help the people of Westview.
  • Vision ultimately ends up crossing Wanda’s border. When he exits the force field, he struggles to move forward and gets pulled back and falls to his knees. The imagery is very similar to when Wanda had to destroy the mind stone in Infinity War, killing Vision in the process. Both times, Wanda’s powers are the cause of his demise.
  • S.W.O.R.D. just stands by as Vision gets torn apart, cuffing Darcy rather than letting her help. When Billy’s powers get triggered by his father’s pain and he lets his mother know about what is happening, it is clear how little Wanda cares for this current version of Pietro – throwing him across town square when he tries to interfere. She then, likely due to a lack of time, doesn’t go to Vision and pulls him in, but rather expands the border of the town to include him and in the process also the S.W.O.R.D. operational site (which funnily enough turned into a circus with clowns and everything).
credit: Marvel Studios

The implications of the town/hex field expanding once again open up so many new possibilities. Will this be a strain on Wanda’s powers, as she has to stay in control of ever more people? Did Monica and Jimmy escape the expansion or are they now sucked in like Darcy? Will Darcy maybe get powers too? So many new questions!

I think it’s fair to say that the stakes are getting higher with each episode. We only have three more to go in the series and, at least I don’t, have a clue what is going to be the resolution to it all, but I am excited to find out!

PREVIOUS WANDAVISION REVIEWS


What did you think of this episode? Are you as excited for next week as me? Let’s talk!

WandaVision: Episode 5 “On a Very Special Episode …” Review

I know I say this at the beginning of every WandaVision post, but better safe than sorry! This is a reminder that the following review heavily includes SPOILERS and is meant to be read after watching the episode!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Inside Westview, Wanda and Vision struggle as new parents, especially as Vision’s suspicions grow. Meanwhile outside Westview, the assembled team comes closer to finding ways to communicate with people inside the anomaly. 

My thoughts?

After last week, it was clear that we could not simply go back to the sitcom style of the first episodes. We now knew too much and therefore, I quite enjoyed the split perspective of seeing both worlds/storylines unfold. On the one hand, we are now squarely in the 80s, but with an ever fracturing facade, and on the other hand, the S.W.O.R.D. agents outside of Westview are doing their best to figure out what happened and how to free the townspeople. It’s very clear that one of my new favourite trios (Monica, Darcy and Jimmy) are not as judgmental and hostile towards Wanda and still believe that this was not premeditated, whereas the current director of S.W.O.R.D. believes her to be an imminent threat. That can only backfire …

I found it a bit hard to sort through my thoughts this time, so I will share my observations and a summary of what we learned outside of Westview first:

  • We have now learned that things from the time period Wanda’s show currently takes place, can go into the anomaly unchanged. Why you would send a drone with a missile to strike Wanda without really engaging in any other way first is beyond me, but hey, I am not in charge of S.W.O.R.D.
  • At one point, Wanda actually leaves Westview to return the (now damaged) drone and is welcomed by a lot of guns pointed at her. I feel like, for the first time in a while, her accent was really strong in this scene. She was dressed the way she used to be as an avenger, seemingly not in her 80s outfit, even though Monica kept her sitcom clothes when she left town. Wanda made it very clear that she is not about to give up on what she has created and that her powers are still in full effect.
  • Wanda stormed the S.W.O.R.D. headquarters to get Vision’s body nine days prior to our current time in the show. I don’t quite understand why she would not be allowed to have his remains, even if his last wish included that he didn’t want to be used as a weapon. I cannot imagine Wanda ever using Vision in a way like that. The fact that he was in a laboratory and not a safe or something suggests to me that they were not honoring his wishes at the agency anyway …
  • When someone mentioned Captain Marvel in front of Monica, she suddenly became real cagey. I can’t help but wonder what happened there?
  • As mentioned above, there’s a sort of schism forming inside the team tasked to handle the Westview matter. Some people still believe in Wanda, whereas others just want to get rid of her.
  • I thought it was a fun little play with the dialogue, when Darcy called Hayward a dick just as he called Wanda a terrorist, the two words being spoken at the same time, making it sound like he could be part of the real danger.
credit: Marvel Studios

Now, let’s talk a little bit about what is happening inside Westview! First of all, the twins kept growing as rapidly as they did inside the womb. First they are babies, then five years old and suddenly they are ten. They seem to have a modicum of power over their growth, however, were apparently immune to Wanda’s attempt at using her magic on them when she wanted to get them to sleep as babies.

Even more notable though is the fact that no one seems to care about the strange things that happen in the WandaVision household. No one mentions anything odd about the twins growing up so fast, or being there in the first place. Especially Wanda herself becomes quite reckless with using her powers in front of the townspeople (mostly Agnes), which makes Vision feel very uncomfortable.

Again, we learned quite a lot here, so, I am trying to gather my thoughts in a hopefully conclusive way. So, here are my “inside Westview” observations:

  • Several people have now openly mentioned that Wanda is in charge. Whether it be the mailman assuring the twins that Wanda would not let their beloved dog stray far, because she is in control, or Agnes openly asking if she should redo a take, because it wasn’t quite right. It seems people really are aware what is happening to them, but maybe because of the pain the spell seems to bring along (Monica described it as being drowned/held down by grief) keeps them playing along.
  • 5 episodes in and despite Agnes (which I still believe stands for AGatha harkNESs) mentioning her husband Ralph, we still have not seen him? Who is he? Where is he?
  • In the comics, Vision actually has a dog called Sparky too (he is a synthezoid). The dog belonged to the neighbors, but died by digging up the Grim Reaper. That would be the second time that the show made a reference to the Grim Reaper, because in episode 3, Agnes wore a brooch that eerily looked like it featured the character on it if you looked really close.
  • Vision isn’t the only one questioning their reality, as the twins keep finding holes in Wanda’s logic as well, when days didn’t add up.
  • Throughout the entire episode, Wanda tries to teach her fast-growing boys some life lessons, including the following (slightly rephrased):
    • “Taking care of a living things is a big responsibility”
    • “You can’t run away from grief by aging up”
    • “You cannot reverse death”
  • All of those life lessons seem very relevant to Wanda’s situation and hugely contradictory to what we believe to know (and yes, I just phrased it like that deliberately, because what do we really know for a fact?).
  • But back to Vision, he actually made quite the significant discoveries this episode! At work, they now have computers, which seem to get interference/e-mails from the outside world, as he manages to read a report from Darcy about the Maximoff anomaly and the radiation. It prompts him to question Norm, letting his true self surface for a brief moment. I was a bit surprised he could do that, but then I never fully grasped the extent of Vision’s powers … especially considering that he technically doesn’t have the mind stone anymore.
  • Vision later confronts Wanda, asking why she is doing this to the people of Westview, what is outside of town and why there are no other children besides their twins. All very valid and observant questions, because I didn’t notice that there were no other kids around, which is suspicious considering the whole “for the children” fundraiser a couple episodes back.
    He also made it clear to Wanda that she couldn’t control him, which she threateningly questioned, but later assured him that she wasn’t behind all of this. The thing is, I believe her? Wanda can lie for sure and Elizabeth Olsen is a fantastic actress, but in that moment, I honestly thought she was telling the truth. And then the doorbell rang and she again said this wasn’t her doing. I am still in shock of what happened next.
credit: Marvel Studios

Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff is BACK! The funniest thing in that moment was Darcy proclaiming “Wanda recast Pietro?”, when we as an audience know that Evan Peters is ALSO Quicksilver, just in the X-Men franchise. This further strengthens my theory that we are already dealing with the multiverse at the moment. Wanda didn’t seem perplexed by Evan as Pietro, but just by the fact that he was here and alive in front of her. This is a huge maybe, but maybe we are dealing with more than one Wanda? Endgame messed up a lot of timelines and worlds, it was bound to have repercussions eventually. I adore how many new possibilities this opens up and that we might one day get a similar scene to this again:

We are back with another ad! This time it was for Lagos paper towels, suggesting they clean up any mess you make. Clearly, Wanda has created quite the mess now, but this was a heavy reference to her mission in Lagos where she accidentally killed several civilians and relief aid workers by redirecting an explosion too close to a building. It caused her severe distress at the time, questioning the destructive nature of her powers, while also causing one of the major discussions about the jurisdiction and accountability of the Avengers as a whole (ultimately leading to the Sokovia accords).

This was actually one of the longest episodes so far and I really think that WandaVision has found its groove with its pacing. You keep learning new things, but you are never overwhelmed with information. As the plot thickens, I am curious to find out what is truly going on, because I think we have only scratched the surface.

PREVIOUS WANDAVISION REVIEWS


Before I leave you here with a lot to think about, I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be able to watch and review next week’s episode in as timely of a manner as I did so far. Unfortunately, I am not sure I will make it on Friday at all, but I hope you will still stop by once I do (and that I will be able to avoid any potential spoilers until I can enjoy it myself)!


What did you think of this week’s episode? Are you excited for next week? Only four more episodes to go!

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee (eARC Review)

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Page Count
: 496
Release Date: February 2, 2021

Further synopsis taken from Goodreads:

In the breathtaking, “precise, elliptical prose” that Chang-rae Lee is known for (The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller’s outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion–on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.

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

CW: parental abandonment, suicidal ideation, mental illness, forced labor, forced sexual intercourse, sex work

Let’s get it out of the way. Unfortunately, I was not the right reader for this book.

I had been very eager to pick up this novel, because of my own experiences abroad. Be it during my formative High School years or later on in life, every time I went to a different country for a longer period of time, I learned something about the world, about people and most importantly myself. No matter where I stayed, it changed me and taught me valuable lessons. I cherish those experiences and thought it would be a great connection to this story. But no matter how hard I tried, I constantly found myself losing interest.

Told between alternating timelines of now and the adventure that got Tiller to his present situation, I couldn’t always quite make the connection between the different scenarios. I felt that the story was disjointed and didn’t evoke the emotional effect I had hoped for. The journey abroad and its aftermath were so important, yet Tiller doesn’t even leave his country until about 40% into the book.

While everything Tiller describes has a purpose, it’s still hard to follow him as he finds value in situations you wish he had never gotten into. I don’t think anything ever goes smoothly when you set out for something potentially life-changing, but where he found himself along the way was among the worst that could happen. There are some clear themes around parenthood, taking action (which Tiller does very late in the book, mostly being an inactive protagonist who things happen to rather than someone who makes things happen – but that’s all part of the journey!) kinship and the privilege of certain opportunities. And yet, I still couldn’t always grasp the fondness for certain people and experiences I would have rather never thought of ever again, while Tiller had them on the highest of pedestals.

Ultimately, I think that this style of writing just wasn’t for me. I can see many literary fans rejoicing in the details, but I found myself drifting off mid-sentence as the descriptions became ever more elaborate and lengthy. In general, this book was just too long, offering pages of minute details of various foods and drinks or other things, just information on top of information, but not the connection to me as a reader I really sought. I am certain others will be able to appreciate Lee’s craftsmanship and skill more than I could. 

Fazit: 2/5 stars! Unfortunately, My Year Abroad failed to capture me.


Have you spent some time abroad? What was it like for you? Can you see yourself picking up a book like this?

WandaVision: Episode 4 “We Interrupt This Program” Review

Once again, I’d like to reiterate that this review of mine is filled with SPOILERS and should only be read after having watched the episode! Proceed at your own risk.

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

In a look back, it is revealed how S.W.O.R.D. and other organisations are involved with the monitoring of Westview and the information they have learned.

My thoughts?

This was definitely a change of pace. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the disruption of the storytelling style, but I can understand why they wanted to provide background information as well as a different perspective.

First of all, we learn that Monica Rambeau was one of the people who were snapped out of existence by Thanos. Upon her return, she discovers that Maria Rambeau, her mother and vital founding member of S.W.O.R.D., had passed in her absence because of cancer. Despite the heartbreaking news, she returns to work right away, although being grounded and only cleared for terrestrial cases. This puts her in the way of Jimmy Woo (former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who now works for the FBI and who we have met previously in Ant Man and the Wasp), who is looking for a missing person, someone who is in witness protection.

That person was supposed to be in Westview, a town no one knows or remembers. The 3,892 people inside forgotten by everyone they once knew … except that Jimmy does remember the missing person. And he can also see the town, just like Maria. It is not clarified why they aren’t affected by the selective amnesia, except for not having a personal connection to the town.
In an attempt to investigate, Maria gets sucked into Westview, prompting S.W.O.R.D. to step in and hiring a couple experts. Enter Doctor Darcy Lewis (known from Thor), who finds the broadcasting waves that let the agents watch the Wanda and Vision show.

credit: Marvel Studios

In general, I feel like this episode answered a lot of question, even if it opened up some new ones in the process. We now know that things/people that pass the threshold to Westview forget who they are (except for rare moments of lucidity) and get transformed to fit into whatever time period is currently the most recent one.
We also have confirmation of Wanda’s awareness of the situation. Not only did we get to see how exactly she threw Geraldine/Monica out of town, but we also see her reassuring Vision that she has “everything under control”. As sinister as that already sounded, it is yet again verified when Monica comes back to herself and tells S.W.O.R.D. “It’s Wanda. It’s all Wanda.”

One of the things I adored was that Jimmy Woo had pretty similar questions to those we as viewers had the past couple of weeks as well. Let’s take a look at what he put on the whiteboard:

  • Why hexagonal shape? – good question! That shape has been present everywhere and could be an indication of so many different things. Is it just hex as in magic? Does it have something to do with Hive? All still very unclear.
  • Why sitcoms? – they sure are entertaining, but why indeed? With their silly logic and happy world, they might just be a comfort for Wanda. Who knows?
  • Why the different decades? – this is similarly unclear as the previous question. However, S.W.O.R.D. also asked themselves whether the broadcast was live, which I could not tell. It was hard to know how much time had passed outside of Westview and if they saw more/less than what we did. It seemed to me like they only had access to “episode 1” for a long time before things changed, but I could be wrong about that.
  • Is Vision alive? – I think the answer here is no. For a brief moment, we saw Wanda acknowledge that Vision’s death happened, but it wasn’t enough to startle her back to reality. I think, in part, this just might have made her more determined to stay in Westview and keep everything neat and tidy, especially after Vision suggested they could always leave. However, he does seem to question the world they are living in, which might hint at part of his mind having been preserved before Thanos took the mind stone from him. Otherwise, why would Wanda allow him to question the perfect little world she made for them?
credit: Marvel Studios

All in all, I believe this episode might not have been as much for the casual viewer as previous ones. It required a lot of information on what had happened in the Marvel universe before and if you wanted any kind of connection to the characters introduced, you would have had to watch a variety of movies (from Ant Man and Captain Marvel to Thor) to have known them from before. I personally love the connection to all those previous works, but I am still not sure how I feel about the POV change. If it’s only for this episode, I think I can live with it, but it was still quite the info dump buffer episode.

If you have missed my previous reviews, you can check them out here:


How was this episode for you? Did it catch you off guard or did you enjoy it? Let’s chat!

WandaVision: Episode 3 “Now in Color” Review

As promised, I am back with another WandaVision review! As with the previous post, I would like to point out that this is meant to be read after watching the episode to avoid any kind of spoilers. I will not hold back!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

After discovering Wanda’s fast pregnancy, the pair tries to prepare for the imminent birth as best as possible, all the while fighting off their growing suspicions of something being off in Westview.

My thoughts?

As we are hurtling through the decades with WandaVision, now squarely in the 70s, I adore how easily recognizable they make their inspiration in terms of intro and style of the episode. This time we clearly got an homage to the Brady Bunch, which seems fitting as it was the birth of the (at least to Wanda and Vision) unexpected twins.

In the comics, their sons William and Thomas (on the show only lovingly called Billy and Tommy for now) mirror the powers of Wanda and her late twin brother Pietro. It will be interesting to see where they go with the boys on the show as their lore in Marvel history thus far is quite scattered. It does, however, point to the much suggested involvement of Mephisto in whatever is happening to Wanda. Since it has been said that WandaVision will also heavily tie into Doctor Strange’s Multiverse of Madness and Mephisto is a main antagonist of Doctor Strange (and often Spider-Man too) as well as Stephen Strange being a big part of the twins’ lives, things are shaping up to go even more into that direction. We shall see!

credit: Marvel Studios

I do enjoy the general progression of the show! Much of the appeal is due to the dichotomy between fun, silly sitcom tropes and the complete tonal shift to dread and more serious matters. Both, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, deserve a tremendous amount of praise for how quickly they manage to switch between these contrasting emotions and portrayals. It’s often quite chilling to go from discomfort to bliss in an instant. I wasn’t sure how soon they would get into the nitty-gritty of their world, but I thought there were some incredible revelations this week.

I’ve mentioned before that I believed that important moments were shown mostly through Wanda’s eyes, but this week had an interesting shift to include major moments with Vision alone. He seems to be more plagued by whatever is off about their town and neighbors than Wanda is, which makes sense in that we believe she is partially responsible for what is going on. Once again, he got cut off by Wanda when he started asking too many questions (prompting me to believe my internet wasn’t working right, when it really was some smart editing choices). It shows an awareness and consciousness on his part that I probably did not expect in a character that is supposed to be deceased and possibly only imaginary.

This time, I have no useful theory about the “commercial break”. It was obviously a Hydra reference again, prompting the potential customers to find their inner goddess. If my suggestions last time had been correct, with the ads pointing to significant events in Wanda’s life in chronological order, there should have been an Ultron or Quicksilver reference, but we got that from Geraldine instead.

UPDATE on Hyrda Soak and it’s possible connection to previous Marvel content:

credit: Marvel Studios

While Vision was off on his own, getting warnings about Geraldine having no home, family or husband in Westview, Wanda also had a confrontation with the very same woman. If the final scenes of the episode are anything to go by, it looks like Westview is a very real town, but shut off from the rest of the world and suspended in old-timey sitcom bliss. Whoever lives there is bound to it and cannot leave. It looked like Wanda was not pleased to have her possibly self-made reality disturbed by a S.W.O.R.D. agent and therefore kicked Geraldine/Monica out, once again confirming that she has tremendous power over what is happening.

Now that we know all that, I simply have to wonder why Agnes and Herb showed concern about Geraldine’s presence in Westview and why Agnes stopped Herb from saying anything more to Vision. Clearly, they are stuck in that town as well, but do they not want to get out or are they worried that confronting Wanda (and Vision) with reality would end up putting them in danger? As Agnes is rumored to be Agatha Harkness, a fellow witch and potential villain, she might also have her own interest at heart in keeping Wanda put. It’s fair to say that I am curious! While the episode definitely answered some questions, it also opened up an onslaught of new ones!

I have to say, I wish they would continue with airing two episodes each week. On the one hand, I am glad that I am forced to be patient instead of binging it all in one go and then being miserable it’s all over, but on the other hand, 30-minute-long episodes are just not enough. This show is so much fun and so brilliantly intricate, I just want more.


Are you all caught up on WandaVision? Did you enjoy their take on the 70s? Let’s chat!

Thursday Movie Picks – Police Detective

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for the Thursday Movie Picks feature. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

This week the theme is Police Detective, which, again, isn’t one of my strong suits if I am being completely honest here. Maybe it’s because I just generally am not the biggest fan of the thriller and crime genre, but we shall see what I can come up with. (I was gonna put Knives Out there because of Benoit Blanc, but then … I realized he wasn’t an actual police detective, but a private investigator, so … yeah). Maybe it won’t have to be about detectives, but they could just be in the movie? This is going to require some pondering.

Kindergarten Cop

I want to make one thing clear for today and that’s that these movies (and shows) aren’t really recommendations so much as my brain trying to think of ANYTHING cop related I have watched. Also, as a fellow Austrian, I guess Arnold Schwarzenegger is just someone at the back of my mind? I’ve seen this movie so many times since I was a kid, but it’s still so cheesy.

Hollywood Homicide

It’s a ridiculous film but the Josh Hartnett and Harrison Ford combo worked for me. Bear in mind that this was early 2000s and so inappropriate at times, but a cop who’d rather be an actor is funny to me.

Young Wallander (TV show)

Because I am unable to think of many more cop movies, I have decided to just list shows … well, frankly because this is my blog and I can.

My dad likes watching the Kurt Wallander movies and this is basically a more aesthetically pleasing prequel series about how Kurt became a high ranking detective. It’s filmed in Sweden with Swedish actors, but in the English language. I guess they wanted that international appeal.

Frequency (TV show)

I KNOW that there’s also the Frequency movie, but I haven’t seen that and I am therefore not sure if the show was a reboot or a sequel, but it’s cancelled either way? I did enjoy it while it was on though. I guess I liked that it wasn’t just crime, but also had a supernatural element to it.


What are some movies and shows with police detectives you liked? I can’t say I am seeking them out very much, but maybe you can pitch something interesting.

WandaVision: Episode 1 & 2 Review

Back in the day, and I say it weirdly like that on purpose even though I mean only a mere three years ago, I used to do weekly reviews of single episodes of certain shows. More accurately Doctor Who, because that was really the only show I did that for (check out the last review here). But, something about WandaVision, along with a little poll on Twitter, has compelled me to take up the weekly reviews again. So, I want to warn you that these posts will not be spoiler-free, but rather my unfiltered thoughts right after the episodes have aired!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Wanda and Vision have moved to the lovely town of WestView. They try their best to fit in and seem as regular as they can, however, it does not take long before they realize that something is off. Strange things keep happening, but are Wanda and Vision prepared to face reality?

My thoughts?

I have waited for this show for what feels like forever. WandaVision was the very reason I got a Disney+ subscription in the first place and I am so very happy that it is out now and that I LOVE it. With Marvel’s entire slate moving to the Disney platform, I was worried about the content a little bit, but with WandaVision they have proven they are not afraid of going into a weird direction.

Modeled after 1950s to 60s sitcoms such as Bewitched, the first two episodes of the new Marvel series take you on a ridiculous ride full of laugh-tracks, tailored theme songs and animated intros. Everything our two leads do is both extremely over the top and very in character for who they are supposed to be. It is fun to watch, but at the same time they keep the viewer wondering what all of this is about. Much as the trailer was confusing, you do not get a lot of insight throughout the first two episodes. They do, however, manage to create a wonderful feeling of dread on top of the silliness and jokes. Something is off and you are very aware of it, it’s just about figuring out what that something is now.

credit: Marvel Studios

Well, here is where it might get really spoiler-y, because these are some of the most important observations I have made (at least I think they are important):

  • Both episodes had short interludes of what looked like old-timey commercials. One was for a Stark Industries produced toaster, which also featured the first time color was shown on the show. Previously, it had all been black and white. The second episode showed a Strücker watch with a clear reference to Hydra. I don’t know if they maybe just want to hint at important parts of Wanda’s life (her home getting blown up by Stark weapons and her powers stemming from experiments done on her by Hydra – even in chronological order) or if it is something different entirely.
  • Another occurrence that was notable in both episodes was a human getting hurt and that being a huge part of Wanda’s awareness that something about her life was off. I found it interesting that these instances mainly involved Wanda and not Vision (although he did save his boss using his abilities in the first episode), because people were turning to her to DO something.
  • We do know that Wanda is in some form of simulation, as it is shown that someone is monitoring her and Vision and the life they are trying to create. There are credits shown for WandaVision’s life within the episode that do not correlate with the actual writing, directing and producing team, although the names didn’t mean anything to me. However, to stay in world, it seems Wanda has more control over her environment. At the end of episode 2, Wanda is confronted with something she does not wish to face, so, she reverses time to change events in her little TV world. Through that color is introduced to the entire scenery as Wanda and Vision learn they are expecting a child (or rather children, I suppose. You know, do it for the children).
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Most notably in all of it though was the symbol/logo shown on both the colored toy helicopter Wanda found in her black and white hedges as well as the beekeeper who came out of the canals. (Edit: also on the folder of the person who was monitoring Wanda and Vision on the screen) While the red and gold coloring may have been a misdirect to Stark again, the logo of a sword can quite simply only mean a connection to the S.W.O.R.D. organisation. In the comics, it was another counterterrorism and intelligence agency along the lines of S.H.I.E.L.D. just with a focus on extraterrestrial threats. Reports suggest though that the Sentient World Observation and Response Department has a new name and purpose on WandaVision, since the acronym now stands for Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division. All of this makes a lot of sense in the context of WandaVision, as they are both basically sentient weapons.
  • In conjuncture with the last point, we need to talk about the magnificent Teyonah Parris. She introduces herself as Geraldine in episode 2 of WandaVision, but we already know that she is slated to play Monica Rambeau (Carol Danver’s friend Maria’s now adult daughter), which leads me to believe she is a S.W.O.R.D. agent and working on the WandaVision case.

I think that is all for now on my part. I am sure there was much more to observe, especially since Agnes will likely play a vital part as well and I haven’t even touched on her yet. I am so looking forward to exploring more decades, styles of television and just plain story with WandaVision! Also, if you noticed in my post that I am referring to Wanda more than both, her and Vision, it is solely because something tells me he is not quite real. I would love for them to be able to be together again, but I am not sure Marvel is that charitable towards my feelings. I think a lot of this is possibly just all done for Wanda.


Have you watched the first two episodes of WandaVision? What are your thoughts on it? Let’s talk!

Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller (eARC Review)

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count
: 384
Release Date: January 26, 2021

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

CW: parental death, sexual assault/rape, drug/substance abuse, mentions of suicide, mentions of non-descript mental illnesses, gaslighting, parental neglect

I’ve been slowly but surely drifting into a territory of picking up one book after another revolving around what sounded like haunted houses, but with a much more complex stories underneath. I am not quite sure what draws me to these kind of books, but Kirsten Miller managed to create a wonderfully creepy ambiance reminiscent of gothic classics. There’s an unease in the house and especially in the beginning, you have no idea what to expect from it. As often as the people of Louth keep saying that they don’t believe in ghosts, it still seems like something is off about the manor.

People say the house is cursed.
It preys on the weakest, and young women are its favorite victims.
In Louth, they’re called the Dead Girls.

When you first meet Bram, it becomes instantly apparent that something bad has happened to her. Even without knowing the details, you just know. That girl has built up a wall of defense a mile high and while that was completely understandable considering her history and upbringing, it still felt irritating during some earlier points in the story. The way she went from starting to like and warm up to people to completely distrusting them and looking for weapons to defend herself in case of an emergency could give you whiplash, although I again want to stress that it makes sense because of her past. But still, as long as you don’t know her, it makes it hard to warm up to her entirely sometimes. Her reasons for wanting to be in the manor so badly kind of eluded me at first, because I did not completely understand her obsession with what happened, but then this also gets explained and uncovered. I think one of the main objectives with the book is to just stick with it and things will eventually get resolved.

Aside from Bram, there was an assortment of interesting characters, all keeping you on your toes the entire time. I feel like we could have gotten to know a couple of them better, but with Lark’s wall up, you get most of your information through second-hand gossip and later confrontations. Trust is a scare commodity in Louth, especially with so many girls having vanished and/or died in the small community over the years. However, my initial feeling for most people was correct, which either made the novel predictable or my gut instinct is just rocking.

Overall, I enjoyed many of the twists and was far from guessing everything. I felt a certain distance to the characters and the story for a long time, but it did all come together in the end. Some might say it came together a bit too conveniently, but I didn’t mind that too much. Just be prepared for a story full of gaslighting and people blaming mental illness for all sorts of things, without anyone being diagnosed or actually having a mental illness in some cases. It can easily rub you the wrong way, but is a huge part of exposing who the good and bad guys are in this story.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! A whirlwind of a resolution!


Have you heard of Don’t Tell a Soul? Do you plan on picking it up? Let’s chat!