Watched, Read, Loved: November and December 2017 and a (belated) happy new year!

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Happy New Year dear friends! The past two months have been whirlwinds! I’ve forgotten how to even blog, and I will be super surprised if my WordPress account actually allows me to log me back in.

Needless to say, it has been hectic – when is it ever not though? I finally completed my degree. I always imagined how it would feel getting that notification, and nothing came close to it because hyperventilation was the prevalent feeling – this panicked excitement and too much happy. I’ve also subsequently been promoted, so November and December were interviews and crazed stress. January is all about settling in to my new role and getting my replacement into her new role, so I can promise some extra crazy moments around the office.

We had my sister’s babyshower, and it was a wonderful day. She’s had some scares with her pregnancy, but I am happy to report that her baby girl is now happy and on her way at the end of January. The day of the babyshower was extremely hot! (It was after all December in South-Africa). We made way too much food but had a lovely time celebrating. If I may say so myself – I can organize an event! 😀

I also managed to have some recreational fun. We went to Sun City in Rustenburg, South-Africa. It has a “sea” and it was a fun day away from Johannesburg. (Also an international five star resort, and looks like the intro to Jurassic Park) However, if I ever go again, I will stay the night. The drive back was straight from a horror movie.

We also went to The Garden of Lights, annually hosted by Emperor’s Casino. It was nothing like I imagined it would be – so charming and gorgeous. It is definitely something I will revisit in the years to come.

Another nice day was visiting the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. They are so wonderfully green now and it was therapeutic strolling between the plants.

I went on another Tinder date. It’s actually a recurring event with this one guy. I just don’t know what to make of the situation at this stage. I’m sure he’ll make a decent boyfriend, I’m just not sure if he will make one for me. I also went to another singles event, which was really nice. However, the people that attend persistently do good in short bursts but later just fade into the background.

It seems too few paragraphs to describe the past few months. I feel like my life has expanded and grown, and you won’t hear from me that 2017 was a bad year. It was a pretty good year for me. I’m extremely grateful how much I’ve managed to achieved, and hopeful that I will reach some major milestones this year – which I’m keeping secret for now, but the moment they happen I will let you know.

I only have one “resolution” this year, and that is to use less plastic. Plastic consumption in South-Africa is pretty bad, and I am also a culprit. The government implemented costs on plastic bags a few years ago, but as it is still only about 20 cents a bag there hasn’t been a lessening in the staggering plastic consumption in South Africa. So I am planning to take a woven bag with me from now on and to pack my groceries in there when I shop, so as to help in a small way save this planet of ours.

Well, here is a rundown of my entertainment adventures below. Let me know your opinions! (Sitting on a thousand unread personal emails, so I might have missed some really important moments)

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The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Hmm. There are so many strong feelings about this film currently on the internet.  Let me tell you, my feelings were strong after exiting the cinema. I’ve mellowed some, but I am not a fan of this film. I need to write a proper review for it, and I will save my commentary for then.

Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017): These amazing ladies have decided to exit while they are on top. I enjoyed this film so much. It is such silly humour and can be pretty darn vulgar, but at the same time it does my heart good to see female driven comedies shine on their own.

PSILY

PS I Love You: Gerard Butler, my pants were on fire. I like this film, despite fully knowing so many people hate it.

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Lego Batman (2017): What a smart, funny, dialogue savvy film. The best Lego movie and one of the finest DC movies.

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Fifty First Dates: I remember loving this film as a child, and eagerly ordered the DVD when I stumbled upon it. It’s still good – a strange mix of Adam Sandler’s best and worst sides. I can at least let my Adam Sandler movies I actually like list grow to three – The Wedding Singer, Mona Lisa smile and Fifty First Dates. The rest remain garbage though.

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Lethal Weapon 3 – I got the third and the fourth movie to watch after Zoe and I watched the first two. I had a great time with this one as well, and the three movies I’ve seen are all equally good. How looky was Mel Gibson before he became the bitter old white man?

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Grease – It really seems unnatural the way John Travolta’s hips move in this film. How young was he?! How young was Olivia Newton John?! Had a lot of fun watching Grease, but it is undeniably a long film.

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Sy Klink Soos Lente – I got in my Afrikaans fix twice in films the past few months. Both (the second below) made me so happy and proud of my language and what we are achieving in cinema. Sy Klink Soos Lente is funny, smart and sweet, and I have watched it once more since the first time.

Vir die Voels

Vir Die Voëls – Same as the above. The writing is significantly better than most South-African films, and there is an awareness of dialogue in both these films that impressed me. It’s not just words, it is how Afrikaans people speak. I will definitely sit down for this again!

Eat Pray Love – I grabbed this off the shelf for something to watch with my mom. I’ve always liked this film, but this time around I found myself slightly irritated with the level of first world problems the character experiences – it’s just so much easier to have a midlife tantrum when you can travel the world. Javier Bardem in this remains gorgeous.

The lord of the rings

The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King: My heart. I am so attached to these films. They are everything. I actually don’t want to review them – how to bring justice to some of the best films ever made? My heart.

Justice league 2017

Justice League – Yep, seemed to have done this in November/December too! To be perfectly honest I enjoyed this more than – gasp – Star Wars. It is definitely one of the better offerings from DC.

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The Italian Job (2003) – Another Blindspot off my list! This went okay, just not a favourite Blindspot this year.

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Zoë got me the best Christmas gift EVER – all the way from England (I’m still naive enough to get such a massive kick from an international shipment). DOWNTON ABBEY BOXSET!!!!! I cannot describe my intense love for this show – it is simply so wonderful. I am already on to season two, and the sarcastic remarks, the amazing running commentary of the Dowager Countess, and the unbearably lovely Matthew Crawley (SOB) keeps my so entertained my pinkie is going to shoot in to the air anytime soon.

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I actually have read way too much to even remember. I am still busy with Under Rose Tainted Skies – it’s good, just very angsty. I’ll finish it soon and tell you all about it, but teenagers are generally difficult to deal with and this one even more so. I am currently devouring Marian Keyes’ This Charming Man, arguably my most favourite read of hers. It’s written so well and flows through the course of the story easily. I also revisited Laurian Clemence’s Mushy Peas on Toast, one of my favourite South-African reads ever, and consumed an unhealthy amount of Nora Roberts. Nora is a spiral – I will read so much of her and then not look at another author for ages, which is lazy and unhealthy on my part. I know I read the two books in the Stanislaski brothers again – which I enjoy despite my opinion on Ukranians not quite matching Nora’s, I also read one of the MacKade books (Return of Jared MacKade), and revisited the Guardians Trilogy. I also read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them (the original book, not the play, which I avoid on principle), and this makes me in the mood for Harry Potter, a complete reread. Who knows, maybe I will even watch the movies as a series. I am also in the mood to read Eat, Pray, Love again by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s the True North of my love of her books, and I’d like to experience it all over again.

What were you up to this festive season? Let me know!

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Happy Women’s Day South-Africa: Top 15 Favorite Kick-Ass female characters on screen

Today is Women’s Day here in South-Africa. Over here we like public holidays quite a bit (although India has TWENTY ONE), so we are all having a day off today – Whoop!

To celebrate, I made a list of strong female characters on screen. I think we can all agree that there are too few well written, complex female characters, but these ladies below are amazing and did their job extremely well in their respective films!

black-widow

Fifteen: The Black Widow – Marvel movies

Female superheroes have increased marginally, and I am really happy about that. My only negative comment is that I am confused why female superheroes need to either wear skin tight leather suits or skimpy Wonder Woman outfits while their male counterparts wears aerodynamically pleasing outfits or war clothing. We have a far way to still go in this genre, but at least we can all agree that Natasha Romanoff kicks ass multiple times on screen and is a fully functional member of the squad. I really enjoy this character, and I think Scarlett Johannson has done a great job bringing her to the screen. It annoyed me a bit that her infertility was this massive discussion in one of the movies – the reproductive capability of her male teammates have never been discussed.

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Fourteen: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss as a character has many flaws – she is selfish and can’t choose between two men. While that is certainly a crime, I have never been able to really judge her too harshly for it. Her world is dark and horrible, and she has nothing wonderful. Turning away from the caring of a good man? It seems nearly cruel to expect her to do that.

But despite this obvious flaw, I really thought the character was badass and capable, and honorable to take her younger sister’s place in a situation where she was guaranteed her death.

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Thirteen: Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series

If this had been a literary list, Hermoine would have been much higher. Film Hermoine is great and Emma Watson did a good job with her, but my opinion remains that the film adaptions didn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the novels, on any level. Anyway, this isn’t a Harry Potter discussion, so I will just mention that Hermoine Granger is the reason those two boys stayed alive. She is strong, intelligent, fiercely loyal and brave, and her contribution to the wizarding world and the feminist cause must never be forgotten.

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Twelve: Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

When Legally Blonde dropped in 2001, every single person on this planet was charmed by Reese Witherspoon and the ditzy genius she created. There were tiny dogs, buckets of pink, manicures and textbooks, all in one film. I placed Elle Woods on this list because we too often forget that it is perfectly possible for a woman to love pink, to be girly and to be very determined, intelligent and capable all at one time. Another excellent thing in the film was that sisterhood won out in the end, and Warner Hungtinton the Third was booted on his ass.

Caroline

Eleven: Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries

As the only series character to make it on to this post, you must know that I am very much team Caroline. Another pretty blonde girl who shows determination, loyalty and passion for life! In season one, Caroline works on your nerves pretty much incessantly. She’s insecure and whiny, and seems to be shallow and petty. However, the second she becomes a vampire and she realises that she will live an eternity in her own head, she gets a grip in such a remarkable fashion that I became her biggest fan.

I am no man

“I am no man”

Ten: Eowyn, Lord of The Rings

Perhaps the lady with the most iconic quote on the list, Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan, is on first impression another lady who waits while her beloved father figure wastes away at the hand of the dastardly Wormtongue and her brother rides to war against orcs. It quickly becomes clear that this is a proud woman who was raised by warriors, and that she is simply tired of being left behind while those she loves die around her. She finds a way on to the battlefield, and if that chilling and rousing speech Theoden gives before his final ride isn’t enough, Eowyn steals everyone’s thunder by killing the leader of the Nazgul. She also gets her super happy ending at the end, which pleased me to no end.

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Nine: The Bride, Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is a phenomenal film maker, and the roles he creates for women are legendary. The Bride is one such character, hell bent on revenge and making people pay for what was done with her. Uma Thurman brings this vengeful character to life with scary finesse, and even though this isn’t my favorite Tarantino film, the character itself is impressive as they come.

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Eight: Hit Girl, Kick-Ass

She’s super tiny, she swears like a sailor, she wears a bright purple wig and her father is Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love her? I was a major fan of both movies, and it would be amazing if they could make a third. Hit Girl is the best part of this franchise, showing that gender and size is insignificant when it comes to being a bad ass.

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Seven: Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The horror when Disney bought Star Wars was paramount. Everyone was sure it would be a disaster, and no one could even get a moment of sleep due to the inordinate amounts of stress this franchise was causing in their adult lives. LUCKILY, Disney actually ended up doing a great job, and introduced a bunch of new characters that were able to flow nicely with how things had been done in the past. One of the best new additions was Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a survivor and a strong female character who can do things for herself. I really enjoyed this character – she is a fantastic blend of purity and strength and was wonderful and empowering to watch.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

Six: Rita Vrataski, The Edge of Tomorrow

A nice little situation of role reversal, Emily Blunt was a hardened war veteran who saved Tom Cruise’s ass REPEATEDLY from aliens. I loved the character – she was sassy, strong, smart and the heroine of the day.

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Five: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale

Did you also just rub your heart because of the pain that shot through it when Vesper was mentioned? It HURTS. Vesper is hands down the best Bond girl that has ever been onscreen. Her sharp brain kept her well equipped to banter with Bond, and her eventual control over Bond ripped out my heart. The fact that Casino Royale is the best Bond film out there certainly helps, but this character in herself is powerful and strong and determined, attributes that were completely left out during the writing process for the other female characters over this incredibly long franchise.

Ellie Sattler Laura Dern

Four: Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

I mentioned in my review of Jurassic World that it felt awful to realize that Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was in the very original Jurassic Park in NINETEEN NINETY THREE was a better, well written and strong female character than the running-in-heels-Bryce-Dallas-Howard. Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, is super smart, professional, excels in her field and gets to see Dinosaurs in JP. I have loved and admired this character from my childhood till now, and I am eternally grateful to the writers that they allowed this strong character to see the light.

M

Three: M, The Bond Franchise

Dame Judi Dench is literal life goals. She is classy, successful and revered, and a girl can just dream to be her when she grows up. M is Bond’s boss, the only person who can try to control him, and their relationship is amazing and complex. I love the power of M, and Judi Dench is incredible to behold as this woman who puts her country above everything in her life.

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Two: Furiousa, Mad Max

Homegirl Charlize Theron teamed up with Tom Hardy in the return of Mad Max, and what a job she did. Furiousa is powerful and intense, and her survival skills in the mad world she finds herself in is incredible. The film should have been titled Furiousa, as it is about her and how she helped the wives escape from that dreadful man. The entire film is one big celebration of sisterhood and sticking together, and I could only cheer on the women as they battled for their freedom.

Shoshanna

One: Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglorious Basterds

The final accolade was difficult to award, because all of the ladies on here are amazing. However, I do think that Shoshanna is worthy, and that her role in Inglorious Basterds is incredibly important. I loved her – her courage and determination, her absolute hatred of anything Nazi, and her eventual success at revenge.

Well, there you have it. There are hopefully a million other female characters that can be mentioned by you below, and I look forward to seeing your opinions!

5 Things Friday: 5 Best book series

Happy Friday!

Harry Potter: JK Rowling

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Reading Harry Potter is not merely a simple pleasure anymore; I need to do it at least twice a year to ensure my eternal happiness. I have to start from the beginning, at The Philosopher’s Stone, and work through to the Deathly Hallows, or it feels like a fake book run.

A study recently found that children who read Harry Potter grew up to be more open-minded and liberal. I can really agree and that might even explain why I am a person who thinks everyone should be left alone to do whatever the hell they want, unless it actively harms other people.

Harry Potter has it all – the books are excellently written, the story unique and touching, the characters ridiculously funny. Rowling created magic with these books, and I am eternally grateful for it.

Bloodlines: Richelle Mead

bloodlines

For a while there it did feel like VAMPIRES, VAMPIRES EVERYWHERE type of situation in the entertainment industry. The dawn of Twilight heralded the universe desperately seeking fanged romance, and eyes were rolled by people who are desperately against the mainstream.

Every aspiring writer tried to recreate a world similar to Twilight, with enough changes to prevent a law suit. Most books failed and spectacularly so, because you will generally fail if you copy other people’s work.

However, Richelle Mead firstly came along and wrote Vampire Academy. Although not the best series on the planet, it was fresh and interesting and original. Then she wrote Bloodlines and I became successfully addicted.

My attachment to this series stems from my admiration of its lead female lead. Sydney Sage is intelligent, a leader and a problem solver and she will take action if needs be. The love story is developed at a fantastic rate and worked out really well, and the unlikely couple’s journey to finding each other is really nice to read.

Walsh Family Series: Marian Keyes

The series has a book for each Welsh sister: Rachel stars in Rachel’s holiday, Clare’s story is told in Watermelon, Anna’s in Is Anybody Out There? Helen has the lead in The Mystery of Mercy Close and Margaret is the main protagonist in Angels.

The Walsh sisters are incredibly messed up. Their mother, although meaning well, had a recurring tendency to put her feet in her mouth as her daughters grew up, and managed to pass on her bad self-image to all her daughters. As they all stumble in their lives, catastrophes happen, and they all have an incredible journey to get through.

Marian Keyes is an excellent writer, producing hilarious books that are full of detail as well. My favourite of the series is most likely Rachel’s holiday, and as it was the first book of Keyes that I ever read, the one I have read the most.

The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins

hunger games trilogy bookset

After the Vampire craze passed, Suzanne Collins created The Hunger Games, and dystopian fiction became all the rage. The world quickly changed its focus, and soon there were movies on the cards. The movies, including the books, are exceptional. Collins had a chilling idea and wrote to produce a truly scary story, and the world was fascinated by a post-apocalyptic place where people killed each other off in a televised “Games” broadcasted for all to see. While this book series is a great read and very compelling, it is also one of the few trilogies I have stumbled across where the movies are nearly as good as the books.

The Lord of the Rings: JRR Tolkien

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Say what you want about the length of the books or the tedious amount of details, the Lord of The Rings was the Harry Potter of its time. Tolkien is also the creator of magic and it cannot be forgotten that he is the reason those EPIC movies exist. I only read this when I have a month of vacation time or something, you cannot be tired at all and have a drifting mind when attempting this.

Honourable mentions:

Divergent: Veronica Roth

Twilight: Stephanie Meyer

Vampire Academy: Richelle Mead

Those I want to read but haven’t started yet

A Song of Fire and Ice: George R. Martin

Southern Vampires: Charlaine Harris (I am actually starting this soon!)

What is your favourite book series? Tell me!