I refuse to believe that it’s almost April…one year since the original quarantine, nope…
March has been…an interesting month, I guess. Definitely had its ups and downs, and it was super cold. It’s usually a really snowy month here in Colorado, and we got dumped on in the middle of the month…not quite the #Snowmageddon that everybody was saying it was going to be, but we got about two feet at my house. A lot, but we’ve had worse…
School’s been a bit rough, but I’m at least glad that everything had time to wind down before Spring Break. I have my SAT test coming up in April and my AP exams in May, so heads up, I’ll probably be less active in the next two months.
Other than that, I’ve definitely made some great progress! Mostly with my writing; I wrote my short story for the writing contest, shared it with family and close friends, got some feedback, AND I SUBMITTED IT ON MONDAY! AAAAAAAAAAAH
I also started on Falcon & The Winter Soldier (I didn’t like episode 1 very much, but 2 got better), watched the Snyder Cut, and drank lots of tea and hot chocolate. Here’s hoping that April will be a bit better. Not that March was awful, but I could’ve done without…y’know, precalc. I’ve been listening to the new Julien Baker a lot too, as well as more Mother Mother, thanks to a playlist my friend made for me.
Also, I rewatched Fargo in its entirety. I’ll admit to curling into the fetal position and sobbing several times.
And I’m SO CLOSE to 400 followers! I LOVE YOU ALL 🥺
I managed to read 23 books this month! (24, if you count reading a certain B.P.R.D. twice.) I’ve definitely had a great reading month; I re-read a few favorites, and I discovered several awesome reads! And I had very few books that I didn’t like, so that’s a plus. Here’s everything…
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles, and happy Valentine’s Day, if that’s your thing! I’m not *super* into it or anything (I guess it’s more worthwhile when you’re…y’know, actually dating somebody), but regardless, I’m down for any kind of holiday that celebrates love of all kinds, be it romantic, familial or platonic. So love each other today and every day of the year, okay?
This week’s been kind of hit or miss; there hasn’t been a whole lot of schoolwork, thankfully, but precalc just continues to make my mood go 📉 so…yep. Let’s hope that statistics next year will be more merciful…
I accidentally got a whole bunch of shorter books on my library haul last week, so I read a lot more than I expected! Again, hit or miss, but I did find a few great ones, for sure. And blogging-wise, I loved doing my review this week! Writing-wise, I’ve been steadily outlining, and I got around to organizing my favorite scene in my sci-fi WIP. 🥺 (Again, details are largely undisclosed, but I will say that there are quite a lot of tender feels and a certain Beatles song.)
Other than that, I’ve been drawing a bit, I finished rewatching season 1 of Fargo and started rewatching season 2, and I finally got around to watching The New Mutants, which I was so excited for, but…gah, if you looked up the entry for the word “disappointment” in the dictionary, the movie poster would be there. So much wasted potential…they did my poor X-Men so dirty…😔👊
Me? Reviewing non-YA books two weeks in a row? I’m in rare form…
I just have to review this one, though. I’ve been a massive fan of Noah Hawley’s work on television for years; Fargo is my favorite show, and Legion follows very close behind. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that he’s written several books!
I spent some of my Christmas gift card money for a local bookstore on this one, and man, I’m so glad that I did. I’m not usually one for mystery, but Before the Fall is a slow-burning but visibly intricate novel that I’m sure I’ll never forget.
One night in August, an unknown disaster causes a private plane to crash into the ocean with 11 people onboard, including the crew. Most are powerful media giants or their companions, some soon to be convicted of crimes, others on the road to even more fame and fortune. The only exception is that of Scott Burroughs, a struggling painter on his way to New York.
Scott, along with the four-year-old son of a powerful newscaster, are the only survivors.
Now in the midst of a national conspiracy, Scott finds his privacy tumbling down around him as the media attempts to decipher the cause of the plane crash–malfunction, terrorism, or something else entirely?
TW/CW: Plane crash/resulting trauma, loss of loved ones, death(s) (adults and children), substance abuse
[chanting to myself in front of the mirror] “stop talking about Fargo…stop talking about Fargo…STOP TALKING ABOUT FARGO…”
My first 5-star read of 2021, ladies, gentlemen & others! I’ll admit that my expectations were absolutely through-the-roof high, but I’m delighted to say that Before the Fall 110% met them.
This was my first exposure to Noah Hawley’s novels, but I’ve adored his work ever since falling in love with Fargo and Legion. But even though there’s a significant gap between experiencing a TV show and a book, this still felt just as cinematic. It really felt like I was watching an episode of Fargo; the writing did meander a bit and linger on things for too long, but it felt like drifting through plot points as we get more information on the characters. Something that I always value in any good novel is a clear care for even the smallest of details, and Before the Fall was exemplary in that department.
Now, I read fast. It’s a problem, at this point. But it’s not every book that makes me actively think “man, I can’t wait until I have a break so I can pick this up again!” And Before the Fall built up such a suspenseful and gripping story that I found myself looking forward to the times in my day when I could kick back and read it. Hawley’s writing instantly pulled me in and didn’t let me go until the final page. Everything in this novel felt deliberate, placed just so to make for a plot that kept me guessing all the way through.
Normally, writing that tends to ramble bothers me sometimes; it feels like the author’s going off on random tangents that have no pertinence to the central plot. And maybe I’m biased, but Hawley made it work in such a way that I looked forward to all of the little digressions throughout the novel. Throughout Before the Fall, backstory and suspense are built through a series of thorough snapshots–obituaries, days in the lives of the dead passengers, and more. Even Scott’s paintings–the subject matter of which is far more important than I would’ve thought at first–help to make the mystery unravel. (As well as help Scott’s reputation unravel…oops…) Every single character, even the side characters that seldom make an appearance, felt astoundingly authentic, someone you could pass by on the street, so fleshed-out they were.
All in all, a stunning and intricate mystery from one of my favorite creative minds. I’m 100% going to read Hawley’s other novels now. 5 stars!
Before the Fall is a standalone, but Noah Hawley is also the author of The Good Father, A Conspiracy of Tall Men, The Punch, and Other People’s Weddings. He is also the executive producer/writer/director of the TV adaptations of Fargo (FX) and Legion. (FX/Marvel television)
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this first week of February has treated you all well.
Reading-wise, I’d say February’s off to an awesome start! I finally got around to some of the books I’d bought with a gift card I got for Christmas, and they were all great! (And I have my first full 5-star read of the year! Noah Hawley never misses…) Other than having to study for a math test, I had hardly any homework, so I had a bit of time to relax. And since the cases have been getting more manageable where I am, I went back to volunteering at my local library! It’s so good to be back. (Safely, of course.)
Other than that, I’ve been steadily working away at my outline, watched Vertigo, and caught up on WandaVision. (And for those of you who’ve seen the last episode…OH MY G O D AAAAAAAAAAH)
Also, I gave in and started rewatching Fargo from the beginning. Oops.
I figured this year that monthly wrap-ups would be a fun way to track my reading progress. This is my first stab at it, so we’ll see how it goes…
January was…an interesting month? Definitely had its ups and downs, I’d say. The school year started out super stressful and overwhelming, and I had to take a week and a half off blogging. But after getting over that initial hump, the workload started to get more manageable, and it’s stayed that way, for the most part, knock on wood.
As far as writing goes, I finished the initial edits on my first draft of the sci-fi WIP I’ve been steadily chipping away at since November 2019 (or thereabouts). I’ve now started outlining it before moving onto draft two; the filler chapters…why did I write so many filler chapters…
I found a lot of good music though! I’ve been listening to loads of Julien Baker lately (I can’t wait for the new album in February!), and I thoroughly enjoyed getting into the scores for Fargo and Legion. I just got into Lucy Dacus too, and No Burden was a good album, for the most part.
And it’s generally just a relief to have Joe Biden in office. Hey, he’s not perfect, but it’s quite a nice change to not have to worry about my basic human rights being taken away on the daily. 🙂
My Goodreads challenge is for 250 books at present (I lowered it in anticipation of schoolwork), and I read 20 books in January! (Not counting a few single-issue comics.) This is the first year where I’ve been paying attention to how many books I’ve actually read in a month, so it’ll be interesting to see how my progress waxes and/or wanes.
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.
This week has definitely had its emotional ups and downs, what with studying for finals and actually doing finals. All that studying definitely took a toll on me, but at least in the case of one of my finals, it paid off. (I’ve only gotten one of my scores back and it was good, but we’ll see about the others…) I still have my AP Bio final tomorrow, though, and even though I’ve been studying for a solid week and a half, I’m still trembling in fear…
One more school day…one more school day…
As for reading, I’ve been doing frequent curbside from the library, and I’ve found some great reads! I picked up some more for break, and I’m so excited to get into them. And it’s always so nice to come back to blogging after a break. I have a whole load of book tags and some original post ideas piling up, so chances are, I’ll be pretty active through winter break…
Other than that, I watched both Kill Bill movies, finished rewatching season 4 of Fargo, and I’m two episodes away from finishing The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, which I’m sadly finding to be veeeeeery mediocre. (How…how are so many people liking this show? I mean, I love Anya Taylor Joy and her 60’s outfits and all the music, but everything’s just so flat…so stilted…)
Oh, and this is old-ish news, but IS ANYONE ELSE SUPER EXCITED THAT NOAH HAWLEY IS CURRENTLY DEVELOPING AN ALIEN TV SHOW ON FX? REJOICE!
[ahem] I’ll step off my soapbox for now, let’s talk about other things…
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well. Just under a month left in this cursed year, we can do it…
It’s definitely been an okay week, considering that awful feeling of having to go back to school after break. I beat my NaNoWriMo goal of 35,000 words on Monday, but after that, I started getting rather unmotivated for that particular WIP, so I think I’ll take a little break from it. I’ve been meaning to go back and edit my sci-fi WIP that I finished in June, so maybe I’ll start on that once I’ve gotten over the finals hump.
And speaking of finals, chances are, I’ll be posting a lot less in the next few weeks. My finals start in two weeks, so I’ll be studying a lot next week, so I doubt I’ll be terribly present or consistent. I’ll be back once Winter Break rolls back around, though. So just a heads up.
On a much lighter note…I’ve gotten out of my reading slump! I ended up DNFing the first book of the week, but after that, I read a whole bunch of great books. I also got to the season finale of Fargo, and I’ve started re-watching it, too. We also put up our Christmas ornaments and decorations, so that’s given everything a cozy, festive air.
Happy Friday, bibliophiles! I suppose that the bibliophile greeting doesn’t *quite* fit for this post, but hey, you probably followed this blog for books, right? Today, we’ve got something a little bit different–but at least I kept my promise, didn’t I? I hinted at doing a review for at least a week prior to today…
At the beginning of quarantine, my brother and my parents had just started binging Fargo. So like so many of us have done with different shows in the last 6 months, I starting doing some serious binge-watching. I’d already been exposed to Noah Hawley’s masterful storytelling through Legion, but Fargo never ceased to wow me. I forgot about it for a few months after finishing up season 3, and then the trailer for season 4 came out in September. I didn’t see it coming, but little did I know that this newest season would be my favorite yet!
Here’s the special thing about Fargo: each season follows a plot that, chances are, you’ve seen before: murder mysteries in small towns, sibling rivalries escalated to astronomical proportions, dysfunctional crime families; this season, in particular, centers around the politics of rivaling Italian and African-American gangs in 1950s Kansas City, and a mortician’s family who unwillingly gets caught up in the action. But every season, without fail, Noah Hawley spins it into something that you’ve never seen before, be it with the characters, the cinematography, and the plot twists (and there’s a LOT of plot twists). Fargo is all about the unexpected, and season 4 brings the factor of the unknown and unseen up to levels that I haven’t seen since…well, I guess that season 3 ending…(no spoilers.)
And maybe I’m biased for this one. October was one of the hardest months I’ve had in quite a while, and Fargo was, without a doubt, one of the things that kept me going through it. As the season came out, my days started to revolve around the Monday nights that would inevitably bring another episode to fuel me with enough dopamine to keep me going through the rest of the week. But I genuinely believe that this show embodies what storytelling should be–what good TV should be, really. And this season has truly cemented Fargo as my favorite show. (And considering that I don’t readily jump for murder mysteries/historical fiction, that’s definitely saying something. That’s just the power of Noah Hawley, folks…)
Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain some minor spoilers, but for your benefit, I’ll try to keep it light on them. But even so, be warned…
I…can’t really find anything major that I didn’t like about this season, so consider this review a breakdown of most everything that I loved.
Characters/casting/acting: With every Fargo season, there’s no shortage of complex characters and masterful actors (for previous seasons, see: Martin Freeman, Bokeem Woodbine, Jean Smart, Ewan McGregor, David Thewlis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, etc.), but season 4 in particular had them in no short supply. I loved all of the (HUGE) main cast and many of the supporting characters, but for one reason or another, this is the first season where I’ve gotten really attached to more than one character. And considering that Fargo is one of those shows that 75%-80% of the main cast is killed off by the time the finale rolls around, it…didn’t go over well with my emotions. But in all seriousness, THESE CHARACTERS!
Let me just digress to talk about my three favorites in this season:
Doctor Senator (Glynn Turman): let’s be honest, what’s not to like? He consistently has some of the best lines/general dialogue in this season, he’s strategic, he’s clever, and he’s instantly likable. I’ll get more in depth on the morally gray theme of the whole season later on in the review, but leave it to Fargo to make us AGGRESSIVELY sympathize with all manner of mobsters and criminals…anyways, this guy’s the best.
Ethelrida Smutny (E’myri Crutchfield): LOVE HER! She’s one of the few characters in this season who’s morally right and seeks to do the right thing, and she is such a lovable character in every way. She’s frequently underestimated by most of the adults in this season, but she shows herself to not only be smart–smarter than them, in some cases–, but compassionate and determined to do the right thing. The world needs more people like Ethelrida.
And last but most definitely not least…
Patrick “Rabbi” Milligan (Ben Whishaw): [SCREAMS AND CRIES INTO THE VOID]
Out of the three I just mentioned, he’s absolutely my favorite. He’s endured so much tragedy and trauma over the course of his life, but all he wants is for Satchel to have a better life. Again, no shortage of clever and insightful lines, and objectively one of those characters that just needs a big hug and a mug of hot chocolate. Just…just trust me on that one. You’ll see.
But as far as characters, it doesn’t stop there. Everybody, from Chris Rock (Loy Cannon) to Jason Schwartzman (Josto Fadda) to Jessie Buckley (Oraetta Mayflower) truly shines in season 4. Each character is distinct, complex, and it was an absolute joy to see all of their stories unfold. (Also, it’s worth it just to see Jason Schwartzman just SNAP…that scene of him just pretending to hold a gun and just go “HAGAGAGAGAGHGHAGSDHAGHGHGH” just lives rent-free in my mind now…)
(Plus…THE GAYS WON 2020, EVERYBODY! Can we just talk about how Zelmare and Swanee INVENTED “be gay, do crime?”)
Whew, that went on for a while. BUT WAIT–THERE’S MORE, BECAUSE THIS SHOW IS VERY NEARLY FLAWLESS:
Score and soundtrack: At this point, I think it’s just impossible for Jeff Russo to ever make a bad score for a movie or a TV show. Besides all of the remixes of the music from previous seasons, I loved all of the new songs. I particularly liked Odis (Jack Huston)’s theme (somehow it almost sounds like a car alarm? But in a good way) and the Legion-y song with the shootout with Zelmare and Swanee at the train station. And I loved all of the other songs that were slipped in. No spoilers for the context of the Johnny Cash song in the finale, but when I tell you that I SOBBED…
Timely themes: One of the main complaints I’ve seen about this season is that it’s “too woke,” (🙄) which I think is utterly idiotic. This season’s set in 1950, but it’s more timely than ever–there’s discussions of race, police brutality, immigration, and what it means to be an American. And it’s all handled quite well, I think. One thing I’ve always appreciated about the show as a whole is how it depicts the American police system–for the first three seasons, there’s usually 1-2 cops that actually know what they’re doing, but they’re frequently dismissed by a largely unbelieving and sexist police force. This season is the first where we have both of our main cops as largely corrupt, but we still sympathize with one of them (PTSD relating to WWII). Most of the characters are morally gray as well (I mean, most of the main cast are members of separate gangs), and that contrast was also well-done.
That classic, Noah Hawley weirdness: in every season, there’s at least one episode or plot point that’s highly out of the ordinary, and lucky for us, we got that in the form of episode 9. Besides having a whole episode of Rabbi and Satchel after not seeing them for two episodes, there’s an amazing Wizard of Oz theme with the whole episode. I’ll shamelessly admit to thinking about it for a solid WEEK.
All the Coen Brothers references, of course: Treehorn? The Raising Arizona screaming? Everything that I missed? LOADS OF FUN.
All in all, this was a masterful show from start to finish. My favorite season out of the four, by far, although I love them all. I’m already rewatching the whole season over again…
MY RATING: ★★★★★
TW/CW: Graphic violence (mostly gunshot wounds, but there’s some parts that definitely made me queasy), racism, xenophobia, police brutality, some brief racist/homophobic/ablelist slurs, poisoning, loss of loved ones, alcoholism/substance abuse
EDIT: Whoooooooa, apparently this is my 500th post! Dang…😳
That’s it for this TV review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated everybody well. Only one month left in 2020…we can do it…
My Thanksgiving Break was this week, and luckily, only one of my teachers assigned homework, and I was able to get it done last weekend, so that was really nice. I had a lot of time to relax–I picked my Radiohead puzzle back up (I hit a wall with it in October, so I figured that now would be a good time to resume it), and watched Annihilation (AAAAAAAAH), I’m Thinking of Ending Things (excuse me while I internally write a 17-page essay on that one), and the newest episode of Fargo. Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, even though we didn’t have anyone over. And we just got our Christmas tree yesterday, and it smells so nice…🥺
And NaNoWriMo’s almost over! It feels like it’s gone by so fast…but hey, I’m on track to finish my 35,000 words very soon!
I’ve had a bit of a reading slump this week, though…after Clap When You Land, I’ve had a mostly disappointing library haul. So chances are, my Book Review Tuesday next week will *probably* be a bit of rant review…sigh…
But hey, I finished my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge! 250 books!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.
It’s nice to be back to blogging, and I think I’m finally back in the right headspace academic-wise to be back again. I mentioned a little of what I’ve been up to in my back from the void post, but it’s definitely been a good week.
Aside from…well, y’know, having to write lab reports and take some tests at the end of the week, it was a good week leading up to break. Lately, my weeks have revolved around the new episodes of Fargo coming on Monday nights, and Noah Hawley blessed us with “East/West,” which was, without question, my favorite episode of the season. So that’s been on my mind for the whole week. I read some decent books from the library, and got a bunch more when I went back on Thursday, so I’m fully stocked up for break. We watched Blood Simple on Friday night too, and that was thoroughly enjoyable.
Something I failed to mention (and probably shouldn’t have, since it would have made the post painfully long) in the last post was NaNoWriMo! I’m at about 70% to my goal of 35,000 words by the end of the month (I’m still in the Young Writer’s Program, so I’m working my way up to 50,000 so I’ll be prepared once I graduate). At this stage, I’m getting to a part in the WIP that I’m liking, but I’m worried that it’s going to be too short. I feel like this happens with everything that I write, so I suppose I’m prepared, but it’s still not a pleasant feeling. We’ll see how it goes.