Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (1/5/21)–Among the Beasts & Briars

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! This is my last day before I have to go back to school… :/ so heads up, I’ll probably be posting less frequently in the next few months because of school.

Anyway, this book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020. Ashley Poston is one of my favorite authors, and I’ll always hold her Heart of Iron duology close to my heart. And although Among the Beasts & Briars didn’t quite hit the level of wondrousness of that duology, it was still a fantasy like no other that I’ll always cherish.

Enjoy the first book review Tuesday of the year!

Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston

Among the Beasts & Briars–Ashley Poston

Cerys leads a quiet life in the kingdom of Aloriya, working with her father to tend the royal gardens. But behind her life of peace is a haunted past–as a child, the woods surrounding her kingdom stole her friends and her mother. She has never seen them again since. But by some miracle, the woods left Cerys alone, marked only by traces of magic in her blood.

When the woods invade the coronation of Aloriya’s new queen, Cerys is forced to flee. Joined by a familiar fox who followed close behind her in the gardens and a bear hiding momentous secrets, she must journey to the heart of the woods, where it is said that an isolated town has escaped the curse that took her mother and friends. But the woods hold secrets darker than the three could ever know…

Fantastic Mr Fox Animated GIF | Fantastic mr fox, Fox gif, Mr fox
Soul of Stars spoilers without context

TW/CW (from Ashley Poston): Frightening Situations, Secondary Character Death, Trypophobia, Bleeding/Self-Harm (not suicidal), Animal Attack, Blood, Grotesque Transformations

I saw a fox outside my window this morning when I woke up…maybe it was a sign that today was the perfect day to write this review…

I think Among the Beasts & Briars was the last book I read this year, and I honestly can’t think of a better book that I could’ve ended the year on. Ashley Poston’s pulled off another masterpiece, chock-full of lovable characters and lush imagery.

With all of Poston’s novels, what shines the most is usually the characters; I’m delighted to say that Among the Beasts & Briars was no exception! Cerys was such a lovable heroine. I’m always drawn to and relate to characters who don’t possess the typical qualities of traditional heroes/heroines–they’d rather stay on the sidelines, aren’t quite so brave, and are unwillingly forced into strange situations. Like Aurora Rising, I really resonated with the message that you don’t have to be brave or be from a noble background to be the hero of your own story, and Cerys exemplifies that theme in its fullest.

And I can’t talk about characters without talking about Fox! He was such a delightful character, and I loved his development as he grappled with his transformation. There’s no shortage of interesting details in his POV of the shifts between his fox form and the unintentional human form, and he and Cerys had the best chemistry. Vala was also wonderful, and they made for a perfect trio of fantasy misfits. I won’t spoil anything, but Seren was one of my favorites too–REDEMPTION ARCS DONE RIGHT, PEOPLE!

VFX Movies Gallery

I also loved the fantasy world of Aloriya and the woods. Poston’s prose makes for so much lush imagery, making for a world that’s as lived-in as it is fantastical. My favorite aspect was absolutely the Woodcurse–there was clearly so much time spent creating the mythology around it, and it was simultaneously fascinating and creepy. And Hellboy made me a sucker for all sorts of spooky monsters, and everything that got swallowed by the Woodcurse just made the paranormal part of my heart so happy.

As with most of Poston’s novels, Among the Beasts & Briars was reasonably dark, but at its heart, it had such a resonant warmth to it, a glimmer of hope and joy no matter what. With every novel she writes, it clearly shines through how much she loves crafting stories, and it shines through on every page.

All in all, a fresh and unique addition to Poston’s pantheon of masterful literature. 5 stars!

Princess Mononoke gif - GIF on Imgur

Among the Beasts & Briars is likely a standalone, but Poston is also the author of the Heart of Iron duology (Heart of Iron and Soul of Stars) and the Once Upon a Con series (Geekerella, The Princess and the Fangirl, and Bookish and the Beast).

Today’s song:

I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the version with the whole cast on the Legion score, but Noah Hawley has such a gorgeous voice…this makes me cry every single time

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Tags

Schitt’s Creek Book Tag

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎆

This tag’s been *patiently* waiting in a little sticky note on my computer since the beginning of quarantine, so I figured that it would be good to start the year off with a cute book tag. I watched most of Schitt’s Creek in 2019, but I finished up the last season at the very beginning of quarantine, and it’s so consistently funny and feel-good!

I found this tag over at Kayla’s Wordsmithy, and the tag was originally created by Julie @ Pages and Pens and Aimee Reads over on Booktube.

Let’s begin, shall we?

SCHITT’S CREEK BOOK TAG

JOHNNY ROSE: An uplifting book with a good message

Schitt's Creek Johnny GIF | Tell-Tale TV

My first thought was This Time Will Be Differenta beautiful tale of resistance, friendship and family. (Plus, that cover…)

This Time Will Be Different — Misa Sugiura

MOIRA ROSE: An over-the-top character you can’t help but love

Unacceptable Schitts GIF - Unacceptable Schitts Creek - Discover & Share  GIFs | Schitts creek, Creek, Funny comedy

Jax from Heart of Iron steals the show in both books in the duology–no shortage of witty quips and HEAPS of sass. He’s the best.

Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron, #1) by Ashley Poston

DAVID ROSE: A book that represents your aesthetic

All The Schitts Creek Gifs You Need - Funny Or Die | Funny comedy, Schitts  creek, David meme

Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam perfectly fits the bill for this prompt–a quiet, atmospheric sort of space opera with an interstellar romance woven in.

On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden | Avery Hill Publishing

ALEXIS ROSE: Best character growth/arc

Go Alexis GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I recently finished Among the Beasts and Briars (which was PHENOMENAL, by the way), and I loved Fox’s growth throughout the book. I guess being accidentally transformed into a human against one’s will just does that to the brain.

Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston

STEVIE BUDD: A book with a favorite ride or die friendship/group

Emily Hampshire Stevie Budd GIF by Schitt's Creek - Find & Share on GIPHY

I love all of the chaotic space misfits in Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine’s Honors trilogy, especially in book 3, Honor Lost. They’re all just so distinct in personality and bounce off each other so well, and they’re all just so sweet together.

Amazon.com: Honor Lost (Honors Book 3) eBook: Caine, Rachel, Aguirre, Ann:  Kindle Store

TED MULLENS: Favorite book with an animal on the cover

Pop Tv GIF by Schitt's Creek - Find & Share on GIPHY

Definitely not my favorite book, per se, but The Storm Crow has quite a few animals on the cover.

The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow, #1) by Kalyn Josephson

PATRICK BREWER: Ideal love interest

Pop Tv Medication GIF by Schitt's Creek - Find & Share on GIPHY

Aurora Burning. One word: Kal.

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff: 9781524720926 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

COMMUNITY SERVICE: A book you read for school/buddy read/readathon challenge you had low expectations for but ended up being amazing

Amazon.com: All Out of Pretty (9781939547484): Palmer, Ingrid: Books

I read All Out of Pretty for my school’s book club a few years ago, and it blew me away! Difficult to read, for sure, but raw and powerful. I’d highly recommend it.

“EWW, DAVID!”: A book you DNF’d because the content was too much for you

Ew David GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I wouldn’t say that Infinity Son was “too much” for me, per se, but it was just a steaming mess. I just couldn’t put up with it after about the 25% mark or so.

Amazon.com: Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle) (9780062457820): Silvera, Adam:  Books

“LOVE THAT JOURNEY FOR ME”: Best series ender/overall series progression

Amazon.com: TRUEL1F3 (Truelife) (LIFEL1K3) (9781524714000): Kristoff, Jay:  Books

TRUEL1F3 was my absolute favorite of the Lifelike trilogy, and such an explosive end to a trilogy like no other.

“EAT GLASS”: An author/series you broke up with

Eat Glass GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I got through the first four books in the Shatter Me series (definitely hit-or-miss, but book four was great), but then Defy Me came along with all these flat-out RIDICULOUS twists that made no sense at all, so I gave up.

Amazon.com: Defy Me (Shatter Me) (9780062676399): Mafi, Tahereh: Books

“VERY UNINTERESTED IN THAT OPINON”: A popular opinion that you disagree with

David Rose Comedy GIF by Schitt's Creek - Find & Share on GIPHY

Alright, let me just say it out front: I did NOT enjoy The Cruel Prince. The worldbuilding was great and I liked the little illustrations, but none of the characters were likable. At all. And Jude and Cardan’s relationship is all kinds of toxic. (HOW AND WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE LIKE HIM?)

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) by Holly Black

I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE! And if you haven’t watched Schitt’s Creek yet, I highly recommend it!

Pop Tv Catherine Ohara GIF by Schitt's Creek - Find & Share on GIPHY

Today’s song:

Realizing that both the Fargo: Year 4 score AND the long awaited Legion Season 3 score/covers came out recently was the best kind of late Christmas present

That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Geeky Stuff, TV

“If I don’t come back, I’m dead or in jail.” (Fargo: Year 4 review)

FXNOW - Watch Full Episodes of FX Shows & Movies
All images in this post credit to FX Networks

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!

Chris Rock Leads the Future in New Fargo Season 4 Teaser

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…

Fargo" season 4 has spun a complex, compelling American fable of race and  crime | Salon.com

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.

THE GREAT:

  • 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:

Fargo Season 4 Episode 5 Review: The Birthplace of Civilization | Den of  Geek
  • 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.
In 'Fargo' Season 4, All the Cops are Bad — Noah Hawley Explains Why |  IndieWire
“I am Ethelrida Pearl Smutny. And I am one of a kind.”
  • 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…

Fargo' Season 4 Character Guide: Who's Who in the New Series
“If I don’t come back, I’m dead or in jail. Do your lessons.”
  • 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.

FX Postpones Fargo Season 4 After Production Delays Due to Coronavirus |  Consequence of Sound
I hate myself for thinking about that “What do you have? A KNIFE! NO!” vine when I saw this scene…

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?”)

Preview — Fargo Season 4 Episode 8: The Nadir | Tell-Tale TV
[intense sapphic happiness ensues]

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.
Fargo' Season 4, Episode 9 Recap: And a Little Dog, Too - The New York Times
  • All the Coen Brothers references, of course: Treehorn? The Raising Arizona screaming? Everything that I missed? LOADS OF FUN.
Chris Rock Says Irish Actress Got Best Part on 'Fargo,' Evil Nurse Oraetta
“Ya like pie?”

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…😳

Today’s song:

I haven’t heard this song in so long…the memories…😭

That’s it for this TV review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music, writing

Writing Soundtracks: Songs and albums I listen to while I write, and tips for making writing playlists

Ooh, would you look at that! A new header!

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I got a notification this morning, and apparently I’ve had this blog running for…5 years? WHOAAAAA, OKAY, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT

I didn’t start semi-seriously book blogging until about a year ago, but thank you to everybody who has supported me along the way! (And for those of you who had to witness what this blog was like when I was in middle school…I’m terribly sorry for the horrors you experienced.)

ANYWAY, I figured I should start doing writing-related posts more frequently, so here’s my first(ish?) stab at it.

Many members of the writing community use music in a number of ways in the process of creating their WIP, be it picking specific songs or albums to listen to while writing, or creating book or character playlists. Music is an integral part of my life, and I’ve managed to weave it into my writing life as well. I always listen to music when I write, so I thought that I would first share some songs, albums, and scores that I like the most to get me writing my WIPs.

INSTRUMENTAL SCORES

I think there’s been several studies about how instrumental scores help with studying, but for a lot of people, music without lyrics is helpful to focus on their writing, and is less distracting than music with lyrics. I use a mix of music with and without lyrics in writing, but for those of you who are strictly instrumental, here are some of my favorite albums–mostly film scores, mind you–that I use when writing:

Danny Elfman - Hellboy 2 (OST) - Amazon.com Music

Hellboy II: The Golden Army original score–Danny Elfman

Yes, yes, I know I blab about this masterpiece quite a lot, but hey, it’s Danny Elfman doing the score–what’s not to like? The score ranges from whimsically spooky to action-packed to tear-jerking, so it’s perfect for writing scenes of all kinds.

Radiohead for Solo Piano | Josh Cohen

Radiohead for Solo Piano–Josh Cohen

Even if you aren’t familiar with Radiohead, this is a spectacular collection of their pieces adapted into instrumental, piano form. I particularly like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “Black Star.”

Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross: Watchmen (Music from the HBO Series ...

Watchmen original score–Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Much of this one is electronic, but with a wide range of moods; either way, it’s always catchy, and perfectly cinematic. Also, there’s a gorgeous instrumental cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”, so of course I’d recommend it.

Anything by Jeff Russo, really

Russo has such a wide range, composition-wise, and every single score I’ve come across by him is nothing short of stellar. Some of my favorites include his scores for Legion (FX), and The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), but he’s also scored everything from Cursed to Lucy in the Sky and Fargo (the TV show)

NON-INSTRUMENTAL SONGS AND ALBUMS

I cram loads of music onto my writing playlists, but there’s several particular songs and albums that get me more focused/motivated/immersed in my writing than others, so here goes nothing…

Kid A Cover - How Radiohead's Most Alienating Album Got Its Cover

Kid A–Radiohead

Besides the fact that one of my WIPs features a character who is obsessed with this album, the sheer range of emotion in this album is stunning. Though it’s chiefly electronic, I’ve used these songs from everything from battle scenes to a funeral scene.

Recommended tracks:

Mitski: Bury Me at Makeout Creek Album Review | Pitchfork

Bury Me at Makeout Creek–Mitski

Another very emotional album, this one’s always great for writing scenes associated with any form of love, whether it’s the promise of it, being in the throes of it, or being apart from it. Then again, you’re talking to somebody who has had zero (0) experience with any sort of relationships, so take this as you will.

Recommended tracks:

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot By Wilco Album Cover Location

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot–Wilco

Apparently they called this album “the American Kid A” when it came out, so…did I cheat and put Kid A on here twice? If so, I don’t regret it.

Ranging from punchy, classic rock songs and dreamlike, melancholic hazes of emotion, I highly recommend this album for scenes charged with emotion–doesn’t matter what emotion we’re talking about, because there’s easily a song or two on here for everything.

Recommended tracks:

Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps Album Review | Pitchfork

Stranger in the Alps–Phoebe Bridgers

Though I don’t like every song on the album, I’d say about 3/4 of it is positively stellar. Definitely on the sadder side, but it’s perfect for channeling strong emotion in your writing.

Recommended tracks:

David Bowie - Hunky Dory - Amazon.com Music

Hunky Dory–David Bowie

Besides being, y’know, the pinnacle of music, this one is chock-full of tracks that not only help me bring emotion and heart into my writing, but with songs that motivate me to write.

Recommended tracks:

GENERAL WRITING PLAYLIST TIPS

I saw a piece of advice the other day about making two writing playlists: listen to one of them while writing it, and a different one when you’re editing or making the second draft, so that you’re put into a different mindset while re-reading it.

For making the playlists themselves, I usually just dump several songs I like, and go through songs as I write. If there’s a song that takes me out of the writing or has been in circulation for a few times too many, I take it off and replace it.

Just for fun, here are snippets of mine:

And yes, I did color-coordinate the album covers. It’s fun…

(Or, alternatively, “the one that I accidentally dumped all the Weezer on” and “the one without any Weezer at all”)

I also like to cobble together playlists for each of my WIPs: here, I include songs with lyrics that relate to the story, or that just have the general vibe of the WIP. For some of them, I also create character playlists going off of the same rule. For my sci-fi book, there are six different perspectives (or, I’m going to make it that way once I get around to editing it), so I have a playlist for each of them. For my current WIP, however, there’s only one perspective, so I just keep it at the protagonist.

What do you think? What are your musical techniques for writing? What’s your favorite music to write to?

Since there’s a boatload of music in this post, consider the entire thing “today’s song.”

That’s it for this writing post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Geeky Stuff

Cursed–Netflix Review ⚔️

Wanneer komt Cursed seizoen 2 op Netflix?
All images credit to Netflix

Hello again, bibliophiles!

I don’t do many reviews of movies and TV shows here, but I figured that I would pour out some thoughts for this one. After reading Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller’s Cursed back in April (and loving it), I figured that I would give the Netflix adaptation a try, since I didn’t have much else to watch save for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which I’m steadily binging at the moment). I finished the show in about a week, and overall, I liked it–for the most part, a faithful adaptation, but at times, a forgettable one. I don’t regret watching it, but it’s nowhere near my favorite show.

Movie Review: The legend of King Arthur is reenvisioned in ...

In summary: Cursed is a 10-episode adaptation of Wheeler and Miller’s 2019 novel, a retelling of Arthurian legend before King Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. It follows Nimue (Katherine Langford), a Fey girl whose home has just been burned down by the Red Paladins, an army of monks bent on purging the Fey from Europe. Her mother’s dying wish was for her to deliver the Sword of Power to Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård), and Nimue, fueled by anger at the slaughter of her family and people, sets off to find the famed wizard. Joining forces with Arthur (Devon Terrell), she goes in search of Merlin, only to discover that the sword that she wields may have a darker power than she could have ever imagined.

Alright, folks…below, I’ll break down what I liked and didn’t like, so be prepared for quite a bit of rambling! This review/breakdown may contain some spoilers, so be warned.

THE GREAT:

  • The opening title sequence and transitions: Absolutely GORGEOUS. The watercolor style was so detailed and beautiful, and it meshed so well with the general mood of the show.
  • The instrumental score: I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: Jeff Russo can do no wrong. Though this score isn’t as notable as the ones he did for TV shows like FX’s Legion or Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, it was certainly a masterfully composed score, especially in the opening theme and some of the songs from the final two episodes.
  • The sets/filming locations: Every single location that Cursed was filmed in was such a joy to take in. The forest setting made for countless beautiful shots, and even the more fabricated ones, especially in the Fey refugee camp of Nemos, did volumes in immersing the viewer into the story.
  • Cast diversity: Kudos to Netflix for casting a variety of actors from all different backgrounds, from the protagonists to the side characters, for the show! There’s quite a few POC characters both at the forefront (ex. Arthur and Morgana) and in the background, so that was always good to see. There was some LGBTQ+ representation as well, which I’ve been going back and forth about. Morgana, one of the protagonists, is in a sapphic relationship with Celia, but in the first few episodes, Celia is killed when their nunnery burns down. She appears in later episodes, but as an…undead puppet of a spider demon. It’s dangerously close to the horrific “bury your gays” trope, but…yeah, I don’t know. On one hand, it’s set in Medieval Europe, and in a nunnery, no less, so the relationship likely wouldn’t have ended well even if it hadn’t burned down. On the other, Celia didn’t have to be killed off/resurrected for Morgana to have character development–Celia could have run off with her, and there still could have been tension there if she had joined her, Nimue, Arthur, and the rest. I’m still unsure about it, but at least they…tried. And I think there were a few LGBTQ+ couples present in the Fey camp in the background.
  • Faithfulness to the source material: For the most part, the Netflix adaptation followed the book closely, which was great to see! There’s a few tweaked details, but they didn’t bother me much at all.
3 Brand New Netflix Shows You Should Check Out This Month - My ...

Now, some of the characters/performances that I liked:

  • Arthur and Morgana: As brother and sister, they didn’t have the best chemistry, but individually, both their performances were good! Arthur was simultaneously bumbling and steadfast, just like I imagined him in the book. Morgana was similarly endearing, and they way that the show ended, I’m interested in seeing how they *might* continue her arc.
  • Merlin: A lot of the criticism that the book got was about Merlin, specifically about how they had massacred his character, making him a more arrogant man, and more than a bit of a drunkard. But even though I love Arthurian legend as much as the next person, I understood the change–Cursed is supposed to be a prequel to the events of these legends, and it would make sense for Merlin to be a younger, more disillusioned character, before he became the wise mentor figure that we know and love. Skarsgård’s performance was well-translated from the book, and I liked following his character.
  • Uther Pendragon: He’s exactly the kind of character that you love to hate. Pendragon was the perfect, whiny and overtly arrogant and hotheaded king to contrast with the other characters.
  • The Red Paladins: Though Sister Iris was a bit underused, the Red Paladins are just as chilling as they appear in the novel.

THE NOT-SO-GREAT:

  • …Nimue: I liked her character in the book, but Langford’s acting just felt…so flat, so lacking in emotion. I wanted to root for her, but there was such a lack of heart in the character that I could barely muster up any emotion.
  • The romance: They had this in the book as well, but I wasn’t as much of a fan of it there, either. It felt like it was needlessly shoehorned in to appease the Teen™️ audience.
  • The gratuitous violence: Again, I suppose this means that it was faithful to the books, because the book was very violent, but it was definitely a bit much. Some of it felt like it was only added in for the shock value, and could have been cut out in the long run. Also, the effect of the blood splattering onto the camera lens works well in present day/more futuristic media, but it took away from the Medieval European setting.
  • The subplots: At least they got tied up at the end (somewhat), but they didn’t contribute to the story. Pym’s whole arc with the Red Spear felt wholly unnecessary, and just fan service that assumed that everyone would appreciate that they kept their comic relief character alive and giving her a romantic arc. Most of the Red Spear characters bugged me as well (especially the captain). The subplot with Morgana, Celia, and the spider demon was a little bit better, but it didn’t do much to the story, other than giving the allusion that Morgana might become more powerful than Nimue herself.
  • That awful song at the end of episode 9: OH GOD. OHHHH GOD. NOPE. Aside from being blatantly manufactured to be put in the show, it again took me out of the setting. I mean, it’s not like a medieval sea shanty would have worked any better for the scene, but I found myself rolling my eyes sky-high.
  • The acting: Even though I listed some of the good performances above, most of them were…good, but forgettable. Other than the characters listed, nobody quite stood out for me (save for Sister Iris). Decent, but nothing that blew me away.
New Trailer for Netflix's Arthurian Series CURSED Based on Frank Miller's  Graphic Novel — GeekTyrant

Overall, Cursed wasn’t spectacular, but I don’t regret watching it. The filming locations, score, and transitions were gorgeous, and it mostly stayed true to the source material, but it was dragged down by a few unnecessary subplots and forgettable acting. I’d give it a solid 3/5.

★★★⭐︎⭐︎

Would I recommend it? I suppose I would. For all you fantasy lovers and fans of the original novel who don’t have much else to watch, I’d encourage you to give it a watch. As long as you have the stomach for quite a lot of violence, though.

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out this week’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.

That’s it for this TV review! I hope you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: July 20-26, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week, and that you and your families are all safe and healthy.

[dons a pair of sunglasses] IT’S LEO SEASON…

Zodiac Sign Cat Sticker by Pusheen for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Aaaaaaanyway, I’d say that it’s been a nice week. I can’t believe July is almost over already…

I’ve been practicing with putting on my new contact lenses with…[ahem] varied results, but hey, I suppose these things take time. Even though my reading week started off disappointing, I got around to reading two good eARCs (I’ll review the other one next week). I’m SO CLOSE to being finished with my Iron Giant puzzle, and I finished my short story for Camp NaNoWriMo! It’s nearly 10,000 words, and I think I made it appropriately depressing. I’m still working my way towards telling people coherent summaries of my various WIPs, but I will say that it’s a bit of a fairytale, and one that involves quite a lot of bad luck and an unexpected, amphibious child.

I also finished the Netflix adaptation of Cursed (expect a review of that soon), and I’m SO excited for season two of The Umbrella Academy!

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Burning Page (The Invisible Library, #3)–Genevieve Cogman (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: The Burning Page (The Invisible Library Novel Book 3 ...

Serpent and Dove–Shelby Mahurin (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Serpent & Dove eBook: Mahurin, Shelby: Kindle Store

FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading & Writing YA (Anthology)–Emily X.R. Pan et. al. (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading ...

Dustborn–Erin Bowman (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Dustborn by Erin Bowman

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orïsha, #2)–Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Legacy ...

Goddess in the Machine–Lora Beth Johnson

Amazon.com: Goddess in the Machine eBook: Johnson, Lora Beth ...

Honor Lost (The Honors, #3)–Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine

Amazon.com: Honor Lost (Honors Book 3) eBook: Caine, Rachel ...

Into the Crooked Place–Alexandra Christo

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Monday’s Not Coming–Tiffany D. Jackson

Amazon.com : [by Tiffany D Jackson] Monday's Not Coming Paperback ...

Today’s song:

Okay, I know that I’ve said that The Beatles should rarely be touched when it comes to covers, but THIS GIVES ME ALL THE CHILLS. LISA HANNIGAN AND JEFF RUSSO CAN DO NO WRONG, I SWEAR…

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (4/27/20)–Questions I Want to Ask You

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Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I haven’t given realistic fiction/contemporary books as much love on my Goodreads Monday posts, so I figured this book would be a good shift to that dynamic. Plus, I’d forgotten that this novel existed for a little while…

Let’s begin, shall we?

 

GOODREADS MONDAY (4/27/20)–QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU by Michelle Falkoff

Questions I Want to Ask You by Michelle Falkoff

Blurb from Goodreads: 

Patrick “Pack” Walsh may not know exactly where he’s going in life, but he’s happy where he is. He’s got a girlfriend who gets him. His single dad is his best friend. After graduation, he has a desk job lined up at the local crossfit gym, maybe he’ll even work his way up to trainer. He can’t see himself ever leaving the small town of Brooksby, MA. And he’s fine with that.

Then, on his eighteenth birthday, a letter from Pack’s mother changes everything.

Pack hits the road, searching for a mother he’s never known and a family he had no idea existed until now. His journey unearths questions about both of his parents that he never saw coming. And by the end of the summer, Pack has a whole different understanding of his past—and most importantly, where he wants his future to lead.

 

So why do I want to read this? 

First of all, even though the book is written by a woman, it’s nice to get a male perspective in a subgenre of YA that usually features more female protagonists. It’s always good to get that perspective.

And speaking of different perspectives, this seems like a fascinating journey–not only on the road to discovering the long-kept secrets of Patrick’s long-lost mother, but a journey in a mind that is wildly different from mine. It should be interesting to see how this character deals with this trek of self-discovery–a common theme in YA literature, but one that looks like it’s going to be dealt with in an inventive way.

Plus, the color scheme of the cover is *incredibly* pleasing, I love that cover art…

Deceit, Disrepair and Death Inside a Southern California Rental Empire

 

Today’s song:

[ahem] So I just finished the first season of Fargo last night, and I’ve all but lost the ability to form anything close to a coherent thought…AAAAAAAAA

 

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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