Watched, Read, Loved: October 2017

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My battle cry should be: “What a Month!”. 2017 in particular has felt like a whirlwind. Every month, so busy, so rushed. Work has been mad. Growing career wise is exhausting. There have been a number of unpleasantness in my team – people resigning, a sexual harassment case (super happy to report that my esteem for my company rose with how they handled the matter), and naturally just the normal amount of pettiness, drama, laziness and idiocy I’ve come to expect from working professionals. However, that said, some demented part of me enjoys working in such a difficult environment. It is enormously satisfying when people bend to your will, see your point, praise your efforts and start acting less like two year olds. I’m probably going to go crazy while doing it, but man, what a ride.

Some things are stressing me out still – waiting for my final results to get my degree is one particular one, and my University is as relaxed about releasing results as they usually are. It is so frustrating to be on a cliff, waiting for an answer, so close to the finish line. That and the course was pretty damn hard, so I am STRESSED. One moment I am convinced I passed and the next moment I’m sure I failed. I’m not the most pleasant person to be around right now, of that I can assure you.

I am also planning my oldest sister’s baby shower. She’s married with a baby on the way; I applaud myself when I comb my hair in the morning. These are the paths we take. However, planning an event is something that always stresses me out – I am such a perfectionist and if I don’t feel something is nice, I get really grumpy. With that is all the baby things too – stressing me out, because my ovaries are going to die soon (I might remove that sentence, I might not). Looking at children in the mall and wondering why anyone would put up with that is what I think of the most, yet at the same time there is something to be said about leaving a legacy. But I also like having my entire salary to myself, and let me tell you, pregnancy seems to come with many ailments that makes me want to revise my previous notion that pregnancy isn’t a sickness.

To load more on my plate, I’ve literally started loading things off my plate. That’s right – I’m at the “healthy lifestyle” game again. It’s a pretty pompous term, but I enjoy using it and it is certainly a better one than the word diet. I’m taking it very basic – cutting out most carbs and eating veggies and protein, with lots of water. I don’t drink any sugar carbonated drinks, so that isn’t a problem, but I do consume copious amounts of Coke Light. Working on lessening that too, as my primary objective is living as clean as possible and not consuming pseudo junk. I like to think I’ve become a regular at our local Parkrun, my total tally of walks is now somewhere around ten. I’ve even done one on my own, because I’ve realized that fitness and companionship aren’t always something that can happen at the same time. So far I’ve lost 3kg, which is obviously slower than I’d like, but it is a consistent trend downwards that makes me happy. I am also sleeping better and feeling more alert, which are two things I desperately needed.

So after an entire dialogue about all my problems, here’s what went down entertainment wise this month.

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017): This was one of the big ones I wanted to see. My darling favorite superhero returned to the big screen, and I was ready. Thor has never been my favorite franchise of Marvel, but on a science level it has always worked really well. This time around Waititi joined in to direct (and star), and I actually watched it TWO times in cinema – super super rare for me. The second watch did highlight some issues – some of the pacing is off, especially by Tessa Thompson, but it was still so much fun that I am not willing to alter the 8.5/10 I gave it.

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It was also Halloween month, so I picked up Hocus Pocus for the very first time in my life. It was okay, I’ve definitely seen worse and better, but I did enjoy the drama of the three witches and how excellently they acted it out.

Dis Koue Kos, Skat, was my Afrikaans feature for the month. Think Eat, Pray, Love, with less praying (and travelling). Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe, a South-African film legend, stars in this excellent film as a newly divorced woman settling into her new life. I had  a lot of fun with it.

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Lego: Ninjago movie (2017) – This was October as well?! October WAS a long month! I had a lot more fun with this than I thought I would, which is saying something.

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Star Trek (2009) – it took me nearly ten years to watch this, and I am happy that I finally did. Review coming soon.

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I kept it pretty simple this month with reading, revisiting the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It’s simple reading, perfect for stressful days where you just need a bit of chill and sexy vampires.

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The real reason for the little amount of movie watching that went down can be pinned to Spartacus. I finally started the series. It’s pretty good despite awful dialogue, though just not one of the shows to watch with your parents / child. EVER.

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What have you been up to this month?

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Series Review: Stranger Things Season 2 (2017)

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If you’ve read my review of Season 1, well, then you know how much excited I felt for the arrival of Stranger Things Season 2. I love Stranger Things more than Eleven (Jane?) likes Eggo Waffles. I would have loved to binge the entire series, but work kept me so busy I had to act like a normal person and settle for one or two episodes each night.

The first season of Stranger Things was such a compelling hit because it was so unexpected. The shock of the upside down and the ingenuity of the writing contributed towards addiction and despondency I developed and experienced subsequently when I finished the measly amount of available episodes. Season two kept some of the elements, but loses that biggest appealing factor – the surprise. Sure the children are as adorable as ever, there are some seriously excellent scenes and flashbacks to the 80s, but the wow factor was missing save for the first episode and episodes eight and nine. The writing was off at times and felt lazy at times. Episode 7 irritated me so much I nearly didn’t finish the series. It was an absolute disaster. Removing Eleven from Hawkins and sending her to find her “sister” among a merry bunch of thieves for an entire episode? What a stupid power trip and unnecessary when there were a million other things that episode 8 could have focused on.

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New additions Dacre Montgomery, Sadie Sink and Sean Astin were welcome additions. Dacre Montgomery seems particularly well cast as Billy the Bully – he’s an 80’s bully personified with his mullet, cigarettes, blaring rock music and really tight pants (circulation could not have been easy). He was particularly good in scenes where he loses his cool and you are able to see that this kid isn’t just a run of the mill bully; he has serious anger issues and is dangerous. Montgomery lived himself into the role and is utterly convincing – excellent work from this young Aussie who donned an American accent like it was no big thing. Sadie Sink is Max, who is in the unfortunate situation of being Billy’s stepsister. She hides her stress and worry and fear under some smart mouth comments, and I enjoyed her. It is also nice seeing another girl join the male dominated cast. Sean Astin as Bob was a sweetheart and I enjoyed seeing him in something again. He had some unlikely hero moments and although he was obviously written as a bit of a nerdy, offbeat character there was such goodness in him that you couldn’t help but root for him even though clearly he’s in the way of a romantic engagement I root for.

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I really like that they promoted Joe Keery to series regular as Steve Harrington. Steve has the best character growth, some of the best lines (#FarrahFawcett) and is such a likeable guy. He’s evolved from the typical high-school prick. He still at odds with Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) for the affections of Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) and in season one I was unsure who I would choose, but Steve is now clearly my favorite. He has some great moments where he gets all parental and authoritative with the younger kids, and I had such a good time witnessing him. I like the mentoring relationship he’s begun with Dustin, who in himself is so darn adorable with his pearly whites.

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My favorite characters at this stage are Hopper, Steve and Dustin. My least favorite is Nancy because that girl must stop messing with Steve and Jonathan’s feelings. I won’t go on a rampage against her but my tolerance for girls who play with multiple men’s’ feelings are quite strong. She redeemed herself somewhat in the last episode, though she still makes me narrow my eyes.

I won’t discuss all the characters – seriously, my love is strong. Caleb McLaughlin gets more screen time and I loved it. Lucas is such a great character and revealed his inner strength when he stood up to Billy. Finn Wolffhard has a great career ahead of him – boy can act! Noah Schnapp is updated to series regular and boy, did little Will suffer greatly again. Poor kid. He managed to be creepy and still have the audience feel protective over him. Milly Bobby Brown is as fascinating as always – she taps so much emotion into her performance it seems unreal that she’s only 13 years old.

The 80s nostalgia makes me so nostalgic – and I wasn’t even around back then. That dance scene in the final episode made me so darn happy and reminiscent about my own primary school days – who hasn’t done those awful “close” dances? So much love. Oh, and Dustin’s hair in that episode. GOSH so darn cute.

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The last two episodes make great strides in repairing the disaster of Episode 7. It is still more lopsided than it needs to be, and the writing needs a more structured approach in season 3. I would love to have Billy get involved in what is really going on in Hawkins, that would help wipe that punk ass attitude off him. I would also like to have him evolve a bit more, become a slightly decenter person while maintaining the ‘tude. If Eleven cannot be called Jane, that would also be great. Maybe Steve can get someone who isn’t Nancy because she doesn’t deserve him? More Dustin too, with his pearly whites.

Rating: 7/10

Series Review: Stranger Things Season 1

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Plot: When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.

I can begin this review by telling you that there is no way I will properly be able to express quite how much I liked Stranger Things. More than one person had told me I really should watch it, that I’d like it, that it was fantastic. Did I immediately listen? Of course not. It is me we are talking about here. When I finally got to it, well, everyone turned out to be right. It turned out to be a good decision at least on my part to only watch it recently – we are now closer to the release of Season 2 than I would have been if I watched it when it came out, and I would have suffered for months on end like the rest of you.

Let’s first talk about the music. It is so 80’s pop. I loved it. The tracks perfectly create a nostalgic feeling, and they highlight each situation for maximum effect. It reminded me so much of the music in The Guest, which is also rich in 80’s nostalgia and also sums up my vastly inferior knowledge of this interesting genre.

The cast is incredible, and mostly led by kids at that. Kids, entertaining me?! The majority of the cast still buy clothes in the infant section, and that is usually a safe indicator that the show is not for me. Gallen Matazarro with his amazing lisp, Caleb McLaughlin already being cooler than I will be, Finn Wolffhard working his nerdiness like a pro, Noah Schnapp as the missing kid– can we please have more of him in Season two? These kids are adorable. They have excellent dialogue, and their 80’s innocence of bikes and tapes and technology is refreshing and unexpected. A favorite scene is where Eleven accidentally starts taking off her shirt because she doesn’t have social cues and they are all like WHOAH. So.Sweet. It is a refreshing change from the children we now have that are on phones all the time and have lost all innocence.

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Milly Bobby Brown is Eleven, and I am sure that you’ve heard everyone say that she’s amazing. I am here to tell you that it’s true, she’s amazing. Eleven is such a sad character. Immensely gifted and supernatural, she’s so sad with all that power. No one ever really loved her; she’s had zero exposure to the outside world and no peers to play with, and everyone she’s ever met up until the diner guy (still mad about that) has betrayed her trust. Her friendship with Mike is so sweet and innocent and hurt my poor little heart. The trailer for season 2 has shown her face again and for that I am so thankful – she’s a key point in this show’s power.

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Natalie Dyer (Nancy), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan) and Joe Kerry (Steve) are the slightly older age group in Hawkins who are involved in the Upside Down. Nancy is the pretty and smart girl, who is frustrated by her suburban existence and the knowledge that the marriage her parents have is one of convenience. Dating Steve must be an exciting thing – he’s handsome and popular and a bad boy who isn’t so bad when you take a good look. It took me a while to actually like him, but there is a great amount of character growth for him through the course of the show. Jonathan is also a great character, and he is an impressively okay result of that horrendous father of his.

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Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers and David Harbour as Jim Hopper lead the adult portion of the show. Joyce is frantic about her son, and it is only a mother’s obsession with keeping her children safe that enabled her to find what she fount. Jim Hopper starts the show by appearing as a useless cop, but his progression in the show is amazing. His story is back breaking and the more you get to know about Jim the sorrier you feel for him. He has one of the best quotes in the show, which I will use for years to come.

The first two or three episodes I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell I’m actually looking at, but even while not knowing; it is too good to not watch. I would have watched the entire show in one sitting if I had 8 hours of leisure at any given time. It’s unique, creepy and flat out gross at stages, and the fight of pure innocence against disgusting darkness and meanness will keep you glued to your seat and routing for the good guys.

I actually moped when this show was done, and am not above watching it again. The show is a fantastic adventure, a tribute to old school thrillers and one of the most inventive shows Netflix has produced. I simply can’t wait for the second season, and can only cross my fingers that they create something similarly amazing.

Have you seen Stranger Things? Talk to me about it in the comments!

PS: Can we just discuss how incredible Netflix opening sequences are?!

Rating: 9/10

Series Review: Pride and Prejudice (1995)

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The BBC series adaption of Pride and Prejudice is nothing short of iconic. You mention Pride and Prejudice and the majority of people are as likely to think of this series as they are of the novel. While there are other adaptions (such as the 2005 adaption and the ridiculously fun 2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), the series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth will always be used as a benchmark for the book. As otherwise as I usually like to be, I sat down with the series after I watched the other two films.

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Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite version of Elizabeth. She manages to capture Elizabeth’s independence and intelligence, and she always seems to be constantly smirking at Darcy. In my opinion Ehle is much prettier than Susannah Harker’s Jane Bennet – I only mention this because in the book it is clear that Jane is supposed to be the prettier one. Harker makes a decent Jane, though she falls short of my favorite. Jane is always the sweet sister, and although there is nothing wrong with her she is definitely the more stereotypical female of so long ago.

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Crispin Bonham-Carter as Charles Bingley is my favorite Bingley. He is as charming, sweet-natured and handsome as Bingley is supposed to be. The character will always be the direct opposite to Darcy, which always makes their friendship baffling and sweet. Bingley is besotted with Jane, and only his inability to see his sister Caroline (Anna Chancellor) for the horrific person she actually is makes him do silly things such as run away from Jane.

Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet achieved what the other ladies in her role couldn’t achieve – the woman drives me crazy. If you’ve read the book you will remember that this character is supposed to drive you crazy – so this statement is an accolade rather than an insult. Mrs. Bennet is self-involved, silly, a really poor mother, a huge embarrassment to her older daughters, an enabler in her younger daughters’ poor behavior and just generally the most frustrating character to be written in a long, long time. I also enjoyed Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. Bennet – he had a lot of the sarcasm and sass Mr. Bennet is supposed to have.

As for the sisters other than Jane, Julia Sawalha as Lydia Bennet and Lucy Briers as Mary Bennet are favorites. Julia captures Lydia’s callous disregard for her family and Briers was a perfect Mary – long suffering, dull, and despite her attempts to appear noble and wise as shallow and embarrassing as the majority of her family. Kitty Bennet is always a bit on the background and not as focused on. Polly Maberly did good in that role as well, but as it is rarely focused on I won’t claim it is my favorite performance.

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And last but not least for the character discussions, there is Mr. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. In the role that started and defined his career, Firth gives as a Darcy that we can strongly root for. Darcy is such a poop in the beginning, but as Zoë and I discussed, his atrocious snobbery and behavior makes him falling so hard for Elizabeth that much more rewarding. His character undergoes such strong changes when he ultimately falls for Elizabeth – it is rewarding and beautiful and powerful.

I really liked the costume and set design. The dresses are gorgeous and styled, something which lacks and seriously grieved me in the 2005 adaption. They also kept the house good looking, again a flaw in the 2005 version, as the Bennets’ are never poor, they just aren’t as rich as the elite. I really did like the dresses they put Elizabeth in, so white and gorgeous. The hair – those curled fringes, made me want to cry. No woman, no matter how beautiful, can make such horrid styling work. It was deplorable.

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The only thing that made me enjoy the series a little less was the music score. I’ve never been a fan of classical whiney screechy music, and it is all over the series. It deducted from my experience. The flashback moments done in the series had me smirking and sighing, but they probably did the best they could with their available technology.

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The ultimate love declaration? This is the closest to the book. I like it for the pure Britishness of it all. It is like “I love you, but let’s not embarrass ourselves”. Something I like about the entire story is how Elizabeth’s feelings change towards Darcy – it’s not sudden, it is a gradual realization that he’s not so bad as she thought and her realization of her own mistakes. If I can say, controversially, that my favorite declaration of love still comes from Mr. Darcy in PPZ, you must please forgive me. His deliverance and his Elizabeth’s reaction are so incredible that it not only stands out in this little genre, but across a large part of movies for me.

The Pride and Prejudice Series conclude my watching of Pride and Prejudice work for the first time. I am really sad about it, so anyone who wants to do another (GOOD) adaption, please see this as a beacon call for it to happen. I enjoyed all three films, and Zoë and I plan to do a discussion post soon about it, and then you will really know which actors act where in there for us.

Have you seen this? Please let me know so we can fan-club together!

Book Review: Jewels of the Sun (Nora Roberts)

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Plot: Determining to reevaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refuge in Faerie Hill Cottage, immersing herself in the study of Irish Folk and discovers hope for the future of the magical past.

Finally back home in Ireland after years of traveling, Aidan Gallagher possesses an uncommon understanding of his country’s haunting myths. Although he’s devoted to managing the family pub, a hint of wildness still glints in his stormy eyes–and in Jude, he sees a woman who can both soothe his heart and stir his blood. And he begins to share the legends of the land with her–while they create a passionate history of their own..

Rating: 6.5/10

I always think that I have read all that there is to read with Roberts. I think of her work in four categories – her JD Robb work I haven’t really touched, her thriller mysteries which I devour,  her romance trilogies such as this, which I really thought I had covered them all, and her Mills and Boon novels which I really rarely, rarely venture in to.

So when I the Gallaher family series naturally I had to investigate. There is a clear distinction between  Nora Roberts writing Irish stories and real Irish writers writing Irish stories. They can’t be grouped together and Roberts really writes perfectly nice books about them but it is clear she doesn’t have the cultural grasp of the nation as the authentic ones do. Her characters are nearly cartoonish with their cultural habits and they are all, always, the “black Irish”. But anyway, I’m not here to bash one of my favorite authors, that is just the impression I wanted to share with you.

Jude Murray – who names their child Jude? – is unsure of who she is when she lands in Ireland. Since we’ve all been there I won’t really blame her. She meets the incredibly attractive and remarkable single bar owner, Aidan Gallagher. She’s clearly immediately what he’s been waiting for his whole life, and he finds her neurosis and anal personality endearing and not irritating as shit. (Because this is a totally legitimate love story). But there is more – Jude is living with the town ghost, who has been cursed to stay as a ghost in eternity because she spurned a proud Prince Fairy’s advances when she was a married woman. Men and their fragile egos aren’t made for positions of power. So there are some conversations with ghosts and fairies and sad souls all in the midst of Jude and Aidan falling in love, and we are kept entertained and a little flabbergasted throughout the book.

Despite all my mean spirited thoughts, I actually did like this book. It is innocent, empty fun and you don’t have to think way too much about it. Despite the cartoonish cultural attachments, I enjoy Aidan. He’s obviously written to be a hero and he’s good at that. Jude is my favorite of the three female characters in the trilogy – Darcy is a gold digger and Brenna was written as this fiercely independent woman who really wasn’t a fiercely independent woman. Jude might be neurotic and insecure but she’s the most believable of the three female leads. The entire trilogy didn’t need the ghost element – it is certainly not the main focus of these romance novels, and it mostly feels pushed in to breathe some life into the often lagging plot.

Anyone looking anywhere for some real characters or even just a love story that feels legitimate will probably not like this. If you are in the midst of stressful exams like I was, this might just get you through the week and prevent you of beating your zoology professor to death.

Game of Thrones Season 7: A recap of the so far

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Me, and the majority of the world seemingly, have been following the latest Game of Thrones season. Sure there are people who still feel the need to say that “this isn’t their show” or “I’ve never watched Game of Thrones in my life”, and they are all really annoying, but for the most part people are at least really interested in what is happening in Westeros. It is probably the only show I make the effort to watch as it comes out, because people love talking about this show that you are bound to know every single detail if you don’t watch it the moment it is released.

As usual, I felt that the show started slow. It is on par with the layout of the previous seasons – the snail paced start of the first few episodes and the eruption of war and chaos everywhere a few episodes in. The first episode was a catch up of what had happened and where every character had ended up, and it felt slow but it was also a necessary aspect.

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I really do enjoy Euron Greyjoy. I’m mentioning him first of the characters because he’s my favorite new addition to this season. Sure, he’s an absolutely horrendous character, but actor Pilou Asbaek is having the time of his life portraying this mad, fearless pirate. He provided a fierce battle on the water, and the scene where he rides into King’s landing after sinking Daenerys’ fleet amused me – he is clearly having the time of his life. The death of the Sandsnakes were desperately disappointing, with their rumored excellent fighting skills just that – a rumor.

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Cersei Lannister is still the Queen of Chaos and creating havoc where she goes. Lena Headey has done a fantastic job with this role and she continues to shine. This is a petty need, but I really just wish she can get other hair now in the show – that yellow short style hurts my soul. I’m now where she told Jaime she’s pregnant and threatened him in the same breath. She’s a crazy woman and although I’m not sure if she is going to stick to the plan to tell the world that Jaime is indeed the father of her child, she certainly knew the impact it would have telling him that.

Nikolaj Waldau-Coster still plays my favorite incestuous guy in Westeros. He’s clearly conflicted and a brave, honorable man – there was something insanely courageous and telling in the way he decided to charge Drogon. I hope this show takes him more places and he doesn’t just remain Cersei’s puppet. Although gross and illegal, he truly loves her, and while I’m sure she loves him, I often feel that she looks at him like a dispensable pawn. Jaime has levels that are untapped and if one of my ten million theories about how this show can end ever pans out, he’s probably going to be the Queen-slayer as well.

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The other Queen, Daenerys of the million names, is irritating me on a level that I can’t put in to words. She has evolved over the season as any character has, but that is not always a good thing. She’s pompous, power hungry and a fool most of the time, and is steering towards the direction of her father at this stage. I was sorry when she burned Dickon Tarly and his father for refusing to BEND THE FUCKING KNEE – that phrase is irritating me so much – it showed that they were obviously honorable men (though Tarly senior was definitely a mean old thing), and on the seriously low looky level the show currently has I would have enjoyed more of Dickon Tarly. I really hope the resurfacing of the now cured Jorah Mormont will stabilize her attitude. Her relationship dynamic with Jon Snow is also interesting – after them finally meeting there was definite sexual tension in the air, which is just a bit gross since they are related. Neither of them know it yet at least, so thus far that tension isn’t a Lannister thing yet.

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The combination of two of my favorite people in the show – Jon and Ser Davos – continues to keep me happy. I like Ser Davos so much – from his time where he acted as a kindly father figure to the now toasty Shireen Baratheon, Ser Davos is an honorable man who is loyal to his King. He’s proven to be a great help to Jon, though not always the most linguistically capable comrade Jon has. I also liked Davos bringing in Gendry (YAY!) again, and I hope Gendry and Jon have great adventures together. I really liked the banter shared between Jon and Gendry in Episode 5, and might I just say Gendry turned in to a fine young man while he was hiding in plain sight. There was lots of humor – the banter about Robert Baratheon’s girth and Jon not being as tall as Ned, and I particularly liked Gendry not hiding the fact that he’s a Baratheon from Jon. It’s important, because despite the many faults of Robert he and Ned were great friends and allies. Jon himself has grown – I’ve been annoyed with the character at times but he remains my favorite to be on the throne. He’s agenda is different and he’s focused on the right thing – the Night King and his frozen army. Jon had a moment where he stood up to Daenerys which I found really attractive – it is so pleasing when a righteous man puts his foot down once in a while. He’s now on his way back to capture a Zombie, and I really hope he, Tormund Giantsbane and Jorah make it back out alive. (I also wish Tormund and Brienne marry and have big, scary babies). The scene with Jon touching the dragons are obviously important, and I found the setup of the scene fantastic.

Arya has finally dropped the part where she was no-one, and after being in one of the best and most rewarding opening scenes in a series where she avenges Robb Stark, she heads back to Winterfell to reunite with her siblings. This is important as she was on her way, and would likely have succeeded, in killing Cersei. There was this awkward moment with Ed Sheeran (the internet mayhem kept me entertained for weeks), and a moment with Hot Pie that I really enjoyed, and afterwards her reunion with Sansa really didn’t have the same emotional punch as Sansa and Jon enjoyed in season six. I think it stems from the fact that the sisters were never really close at the start, and while they are probably happy to see each other they are likely still going to be competitive. Of the two sisters, Arya is my favorite. I think authority sits well on Sansa but she needs to get rid of Littlefinger – he has way too much hold on her at the moment.

I think the other last important thing to mention is Sam and Gilly. I like Gilly so much, and Sam a lot of the times, but he was just a bit annoying in the last episode. His heroics saved Jorah this season, for which we thank him, but his irritated dismissal of Gilly’s information did not endear him to me. Sam lost his temper a bit with his position at the Citadel, and has now embarked to who knows where. He had a point there at least – to provide valuable information to Jon.

I really like the scenery, the battles, the costume design (as always fantastic in this show) and how plots are falling in place – my brother in-law feels that it is too designed and easy, but I am enjoying it. The entire story is finally escalating towards massive battle scenes. Every single family has been uprooted and displaced, and the Tyrells have been completely obliterated (fantastic exiting scene from Oleynna Tyrell). If I could have a scene where Littlefinger dies, where Jon and Arya are reunited, and possibly love between Brienne and Thormund, I will consider myself a very lucky person. I think Dany and Cersei squaring off is probably only the very last season, but we can hope for that to happen soon too as it will be amazing.

What are your thoughts this far in?

Watched, Read, Loved: June and July 2017

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I want to start every post now with “yes, it’s me, and I am still alive”. What a couple of months this has been! July has hands down just been the slowest month in everything for me. It was a roller coaster – I was away in Nelspruit end of June to bid my bestie goodbye, then for two weeks in Potchefstroom for university work and then I had to rush to finalize my younger sister’s 21st birthday. And when I looked down at the date it was suddenly the 19th of July and there were no blog posts from me! SHOCK, HORROR. So I am trying to move my blog into activity again, and herewith some of my favorite posts, a Watched, Read, Loved list for both June and July. I really hope to be back to full time blogging in August, I’ve really missed everyone and the feeling of having a creative outlet.

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I started off June by watching Wonder Woman (2017). I’m not really a weeper, but let me tell you I was misty eyed reading some of the truly excellent tributes that poured in. Little girls in costumes, women everywhere just flooding cinemas to watch a superhero films and all the financial and critical acclaim that accompanied this film just filled my heart. I can’t do any more justice to this excellent work of director Patty Jenkins that has already been done, but I assure you that I will always try.

Say Anything

I also saw Say Anything (1987) for the first time. I can now put a film to the iconic John Cusack pose that is everywhere on the internet, and I’m not really surprised that I enjoyed this film because it is right up my alley. It is a short, fun and easy watch and really good in its’ genre. I must post its review soon but a severe case of apathy towards typing out reviews has taken hold of me at this stage.

 

I also saw Rules Don’t Apply (2016) which has the unfortunate distinction of being one fantastic box office fail. It’s not really bad, it is just frustratingly boring. It could have been great with its excellent set design and costumes, solid acting and notable performances. It just lacked heart and a decent turn of events.

I picked up Mother’s Day (2016) to watch with my own mother, because I can promise you Gary Marshall won’t be putting too risqué sex scenes in any of his films. I was right – there is little to no romance. If you can get past the notion that Jennifer Aniston is supposed to be the old, washed out mom in here, you will likely enjoy it. Julia Roberts is hidden under the most horrible wig I have ever seen, but the film is sparingly okay and has some legitimately funny moments in. It also casts Jason Sudeikis, and I have never seen him in anything except this and that godawful We’re the Millers – can someone tell me why he’s famous?

I also watched Bad Moms (2016) which was rather fun and hilarious. I know, I was shocked too.

Then there was Jackie (2016), a movie that got an Oscar nod for Natalie Portman. While her performance certainly deserves a nod, the movie itself is quite slow and not really worth the hype.

On the Afrikaans movie front I watched Platteland again. It is such an intense musical, and as Afrikaans as can be. I really do have a fondness of locally produced movies, and my plan to branch a part of this blog off into local films will hopefully happen sometime.

Homecoming

Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) was a first of three July cinema watches for me. I really still struggle to formulate thoughts on this film. I sincerely didn’t hate it, but I have struggled to see the reason for Spiderman for years now, and this reboot even more so. Tom Holland is okay I guess. I particularly liked Zendaya. I think it is safe to say while I still have time for amazing and new superhero films (such as Wonder Woman), the generic Marvel film has become somewhat of a repetitive bore.

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I still cannot believe that I refreshed my makeup, made sure my outfit was okay and went out on a damn Friday night (this is torture for me) to watch Valerian and a City of a thousand planets. You will see that review hopefully Friday, but heads-up: I hated it.

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I also saw Dunkirk this last weekend and that at least was worth my time. Christopher Nolan is the salve to every hurt a bombastic Bay/Snyder movie throws out, and the beautiful, heart wrenching film hit me quite in the feels.

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Series:

Yes, I know. I need to tame this wild Pride and Prejudice obsession that has gotten over me. Not only did I see the 2005 film AGAIN – this is in addition to the watch I did in May of it, I also got my hands on the 1995 series version of it. I am a bit torn. I’ve read far and wide that it is the best adaption, and while it is certainly the most faithful adaption, I really hated the score – classical music makes me want to pull my hair out.

I finally started watching Alias season 4. It isn’t bad, still has plenty of Michael Vartan in, and I want to finish it before it somehow gets spoiled by the internet for me.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 6: Season five of this vampire-tastic show took me ages to finalize. It was slow, badly planned and really unimaginative in some places. I am glad to report that season six is wonderful – it is the first season with really legitimately funny moments in, and I am having a fantastic time.

Game of Thrones Season 7: This is still ongoing and I am avoiding people or comments like the plague who have watched it – the internet is the rudest place ever.

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On the reading front I haven’t been exactly revolutionary, but I have picked up Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. I have never read anything by this author, and I am really enjoying it so far. It is fast paced plot and is well written with likeable characters. I didn’t think I would like a lawyery story, but it seems I was mistaken. I’ve hit a lag with it, and should really finish it up. I’ve slightly changed my opinion with the events that just loops all the time.

I have reread a bunch of Nora Roberts novels – Blue Smoke, The Obsession and some small ones which I really can’t recall the names of. I’ve also picked up Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, and I will review the entire trilogy once I am finished with the third book.

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I am also now reading Come Sundown – I did all the dance moves when I got a special on Loot (online shopping rocks) for this new release of Roberts. I always weep because I’m just not okay with forking out the prices retailers ask in South-Africa for new releases, so this was quite a score. I can tell you now that there is something different to Come Sundown. I will see how it ends, but it is one of the most unique books Roberts has ever done, and the tone is quite different from what she usually does.

I also should really get in to finalizing those 100 Happy Days post on here. They are just so much work and admin that I am not in the mood. I did finish the challenge, and you can few that all on my Instagram account.

As for adventures, I quickly went down to my bestie to see her one more time before she goes on her international adventure. The next time I see her will be in London, which at this stage is simply mind boggling to me.

Watched, Read, Loved: April 2017

April is the best month for South-Africa. Seriously – we have so many public holidays people are actually nice to each other. I took off a chunk of time as well, and it did me the world of good. I actually got some sleep in, saw my bestie and watched some amazing films. Without further ado, here is my rundown of April 2017.

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Movies:

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Beauty and the Beast (2017): The painful excitement that came when I heard they were doing a live animation of my favorite Disney classic was excruciating. Would it work? Would it fail? The QUESTIONS that plagued me.Additionally, B&B was released in South-Africa later than the rest of the world because of South-Africaitis, and there were conflicting reports to be read. Anyway, grabbing popcorn and sitting down to see this was really wonderful. I liked it, and will watch it again. I had Gaston stuck in my head for a week. I better not hear that tune soon.

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One Day (2011): HATED IT.

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Basic Instinct(1992): This is part of my Blindspot 2017 series. This year I am doing remarkably well with it, because Zoë and I watched a bunch of them in December because #besties. Basic Instinct is next on the list and quite the shocker. OMFG my poor eyes.I might never recover.

Anywhere but home (2008): I thought this comedy was quite funny the second time around (I know I’ve seen this before but I can barely remember it). It’s also titled “Four Christmases”. I’ve never understood exactly why some movies get two titles. Anyway, if you can believe that someone like Reese Witherspoon would end up with someone like Vince Vaughn, you can get through the movie. It has some funny moments, and sure they are the typical things you’d expect, but they are funny regardless.

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Twilight: New Moon (2009): I’ve been meaning to blog about Twilight as a set for ages now. I did Twilight (2008) easily, but had a couple of months delay by what succeeds it. New Moon is the most insufferable – both book and movie – but I sat through it eventually.

Eclipse

Twilight: Eclipse (2010): Eclipse is a strong successor and definitely superior to the ghastly New Moon. Edward is still an obsessive stalker, Bella is still pathetic, R. Patz and Kristen Stewart still can’t act. But decisively better than the infuriating New Moon.

Safe Haven (2013): The casting for Nicholas Sparks film is never specified for acting abilities. I guess the author/filmmaker knows his audience too well, and knows if he provides enough pretty people the film will be acceptable to his fans. He’s not wrong. I enjoyed Safe Haven and the acting is really better than the acting in The Lucky One. The kids were cute and the story was okay.

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He’s just not that into you (2009): I always enjoy watching HJNTIY. My brother-in-law did not appreciate us making him watch it though, telling me that it is not also a guy-friendly film as I initially thought.

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Warm Bodies (2013): I just love this film. Nicholas Hoult is a zombie, and when he eats the brains ofTeresa Palmer’s boyfriend, he starts seeing some memories and slowly returns to human form. The cast, led by Hoult, are all quite charming and for a story that shouldn’t work it works really well.

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The DUFF (2015):yes, I watched it again. One of my favorite films at the moment. Such hilarity.lethal weapon

Lethal Weapon 1 (1987) & Lethal Weapon 2 (1989):
It was my first time around watching this buddy-cop series, and I really enjoyed it. The 1980’s were a glorious time to be alive obviously!

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Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

SO SLOPPY.

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Chef (2014): Chef is a film about good food and happy endings, and well deserved of its’ praise. I really quite liked this film!

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Arrival (2016): My review will be up next week. I loved this. Handsdown one of the finest films of 2016.

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Drive (2011): I remember enjoying Drive the first time around, but I really couldn’t remember everything about it. I enjoyed it so much this time too, it is a phenomenal film and some of Gosling’s best work.

The guest

The Guest (2014): This film has a lot of science reasons it works well to the appreciative eye, but I can tell you that I would have loved it without the science too. Gorgeous directing, a solid plot and excellent score, this film is a great film to watch again and again.

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Prisoners (2013): Prisoners currently ranks as my least favorite Villeneuve film. It is on no level a poor film, it was just not my favorite of his. And it is five hundred hours long. *Scientific fact*

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016):

I can watch this movie indefinitely. It is the best!

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Crazy Stupid Love (2011): I definitely need to review this film again – It has been ages since I’ve posted it on my blog. One of the most inoffensive romantic comedies produced in later years, this movie will make you laugh and relate with some character in here.

Nocturnal animals

Nocturnal Animals (2016): This is my new hated film. Gosh, what a spectacular waste of my life. Pretentious bullshit.

 

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Black-Hills

Black Hills – Nora Roberts

This is a particular favorite book of mine. I enjoy Dr. Lillian Chance – she is passionate about her work in the refuge she built and is smart and cool.

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The Concannon Sisters trilogy – Nora Roberts

While I do enjoy this series of books – Born in Shame, Born in Ice and Born in Fire, they certainly aren’t my favorite of the author. However, her love for Ireland does show when reading this, and I particularly enjoy the description of the scenery.

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Two Broke Girls Season 4 and 5

I’m enjoying myself way too much with this comedy. It shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but I end up really laughing at it.

What did you do in April?

Series Review: Daredevil Season 1 (2015)

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Rating: 9/10

I was typically a fool failing to watch so Daredevil quickly and upon its release. I’ve seen Jessica Jones, and let me tell you, when that review is up you will see how much I absolutely loathed it. My biggest issue with Jessica Jones was that the story was boring, ill written and poorly executed. I was loathe to try yet another superhero series and convinced I wouldn’t enjoy it. Incidentally I started watching because rumor had it that Jon Bernthal is The Punisher and appears eventually in Daredevil. I am on a huge Bernthal binge so I need to watch everything he’s ever been in on risk my eternal happiness. So it came as a big and pleasant surprise to find myself enthralled. Daredevil is one of the meatiest shows out there, full of background information and scenes I would usually blast as filler nonsense. In here? It serves the overall feel of the show well as the early years of each character so deeply impacts them.

The directing of Daredevil is in strong hands. Everything has this tense feel, a sense of darkness that is perhaps an indication of Murdoch’s blindness or of the despondency of the city. I am unable to ignore even one episode’s opening sequence. So dark and heavy and vibey. I would like to know the person who thought of such an incredible opening sequence – one million times the wow.

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In one of the best castings in recent memory, Charlie Cox simply shines as Matthew Murdoch. I had no idea that he had such a well of emotions to pull from to bring such a complex character to life. I would never have cast him as Daredevil / MM. This character is so interesting and just the thing I’ve wanted from this Netflix superheroes series – a character with depth and layer. There is such goodness in this guy and the moral questions he faces. I love the flashbacks to him as a kid, I love how he seeks advice from his priest and how he struggles with the mere idea of killing someone. It is incredible how the show’s directors and writers shows how well Daredevil can see despite being blind. His vision is not based on eyesight and so much more powerful and astute than the rest of us.

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The unfairly gorgeous and talented Deborah Ann Woll has been previously best known for her role in True Blood. Karen is infinitely more interesting of the two characters I have seen Woll play. I enjoy how she grows and how her spine stiffens when she’s faced with injustice. Dare I hope that this character still has untapped potential and a well of insight to her past?

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Foggy!!!! Matthew’s best friend and law firm partner, this guy provides the majority of funny moments. His little crush on Karen makes me sad as it is becoming so clear that she’s otherwise interested. A man with such a loyal and good heart deserves the best. I’m not really saying Karen is giving him ideas, but I do think she needs to be more careful with him.

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There are a number of smaller characters I really enjoyed. I really liked Clare (Rosario Dawson). She was instrumental more than once keeping Matthew alive, and their relationship,Ben Uric, the crooked copper who had one of the finest fuck you attitudes I’ve ever seen on screen.

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Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin. It is so rare that a villain is developed well enough that you sympathize with him. Kingpin is insane. That car door scene was the big reveal to how unstable Kingpin is, and man, did they do a thorough job doing that. Every subsequent scene with him in is simply stolen by D’Onofrio, who delivers a career best performance. I am so invested in this character and interested in every morsel of information they feed us about him.D’Onofrio is good enough that I feel I should be rooting for Kingpin and celebrating that such a sad youth could turn into such astounding power. It is rare to see a villain have a love interest developed as a serious arc and have the villain become even more insane as a result.

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James, Kingpin’s assistant, is played by Toby Leonard Moore. He is shiny with just the right amount of sneer and slime to make you uncomfortable. SPOILER: Karen shooting James was one of the biggest plot developments. I really didn’t see that one coming. It is sad, I enjoyed his villainy so much. I would have also really liked to have seen why he and Fisk were so loyal to each other in a world where betrayal was constant.

Daredevil was good enough that I wasn’t frustrated by the long setup of events. I vaguely registered that the show seemed to nearly run in a one episode one dilemma format. It served overall to enhance the events that start crashing through after episode 5. There were a few fight scenes that got a bit drawn out but I appreciated the ninja flipping skills of Daredevil so much that I could get through it without irritation.

The final episode is jam packed with excitement and fight scenes. Wilson Fisk is a wily bastard, and his capture proves to be nearly impossible. I do think that his love interest will likely prove a formidable force in the next season. She was very unhappy with his eventual imprisonment. Dare I say we haven’t seen the last of these two morally questionable characters?

Have you seen Daredevil? What did you think?

Watched, Read, Loved: February 2017

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February being so short is all fun and games (particularly since payday is closer for a lot of people) but then suddenly you are in March and I don’t know about you, but I’m really like where the actual f is this year going? February was rather quiet compared to January’s movie intake, which I will blame on the shortness of the month and the fact that I got hooked on Daredevil, which certainly took up the majority of time I would usually have spent watching movies. But do you see me complaining? Nope. It changed my life, the show is THAT good.

On a personal note the start of February was rather sad. I kept thinking whether I should do some sort of separate posting about it, but decided against it as it seemed too morbid to post exclusively about death. One of my oldest friends committed suicide late January, and her birthday was on the same date as my father’s, who would have been sixty this year. In the past the weekend close to the 2nd of February would have usually been a massive amount of party juggling is now only a sad remembrance of two amazing people, and that is really just very sad to deal with.

Furthermore work was also a little crazy. I received a job offer and went through all the hoops to get a formal proposal. I ultimately decided to stay with my current company, a decision which I question daily. The pros and cons kept me awake for nights on end, and while I’m mostly happy with my decision the thought of a few things still make me wonder. It is not always easy here, but I have realized that the field I am in is rarely easy, so if I truly want to change I will do so after my degree and rather just change careers completely.

On the Tinder and dating saga: February is the month of Lurveeeee. I am very much past the point where Valentines actually holds meaning to me. I hate to be on the overly-negative-bandwagon, but it is a commercialized chaos and I am very uninterested in furthering every shop in town’s agenda. I just realized that I really have so much to say about this that I should do another Tinder and dating post. It has been a merry ride with asthma attacks during dates, single events, people who actually use the term hella cool and people who seem to think I’m dumb and don’t have basic knowledge of things.

Looking at everything I just wrote on there I am not surprised I didn’t reach my January high of movies. Here they are below, let me know what you’ve been up to as well in the comment section!

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Movies:

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016): 8.5/10

I started February off with a bang and finally got to Hunt for The Wilderpeople. I reviewed it already because I loved it too much to keep it contained for too long. It is really far out of the type of movie I would usually choose to watch. This actually can’t be classified to a genre. Full of quips, this film is designed to warm your heart and make you think long and hard about the sanity of New Zealanders.

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The BFG (2016): 6/10

Wow, I really get why people didn’t like this! Long and overindulgent. Ugh.

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Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince(2009): 6.5/10

Can a movie ever really do justice to the book it was created from? The answer is always no unless it is Lord of The Rings. I’m not sure whether I’ll even do a review for this. I had it in my head to do a series at one stage, so maybe I will just write it up and get to it one day in the distant future.

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Shall We Dance? (2004):6.5/10

I watched this with my mom, and we both enjoyed it. It is mostly about an old man finding his groove again, and I liked it by the end. It is also not about cheating and I was very suspicious about that, which made me pleased in the end.

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Notting Hill (1999): 6.5/10

I apparently really like the 6.5/10 rating. It seems like a fair score if I liked it but it wasn’t amazing. Notting Hill is a passable film but it isn’t my favorite in the genre. I still think Julia Roberts is one of the most beautiful women to have ever worked in Hollywood.

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How to Be Single (2015): 6.5/10

This is a second watch for me. I really like a number of things about this movie – Rebel Wilson and Dakota Fanning do great work together. Dakota Fanning is a really talented lady, so I hope she does more work other than that BDSM crap. The message of this film is also really important.

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Books:

The Power of Six (Pittacus Lore)

Not sure if I should even list it on here as I read the last twenty pages in February, but there you go. It was quite enjoyable although it certainly wasn’t as captivating as the first book.

After You (JoJoMoyes)

After Me Before You, the touching book and the slightly less touching film, After You comes along. Lou is dealing with her grief, her inability to convey to strangers how she loved a man so quickly and powerfully in only six months and the judgment of every ass available. It is written in typical JoJoMoyes style and so far it is really enjoyable although I can’t see how she will reach the emotional highs of her first book.

Tribute – Nora Roberts

I enjoy Tribute on a loop every year at least. All I know from reading this book again is I want a Spock.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling

Everything. This book is everything. It makes me so happy and content. It is such an important book in the series, and there are scenes in there that fills my heart up with so much happiness and light.

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Series:

X-files Season 2 – I’m a bit at a snag right now with X-Files. I enjoy it but it is so procedural I can drop and pick up without too many holes in the conversation.

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Daredevil Season 1 and 2 – I’ve been postponing this for ages now. WHY? It is amazing. It is 10 000% better than that awful Jessica Jones BS I subjected myself too. Charlie Cox as Daredevil is AMAZING. That introduction.The tone of the series.The action.The simple badassery. I am so involved in this. WOW. I will post both reviews and JJ soon, and you will see the remarkable difference.

What have you been up to this month?