favorites · Uncategorized

2018 Favorites

2018 is coming to a close and as per usual, I consumed a lot of media/things in genearl as you can probably guess. I’ve been debating the future of this blog for a while now but I’ll get into that in the next post. I didn’t do a book stats post like I normally do and even debated doing this one. But for now, a recap of my 2018 favorites!

Books

Image result for the cruel princeThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black – The Cruel Prince has probably ended up on a lot of people’s favorites and I am giving into the hype because this book deserves most of it. I completely adore this twisted world with its lies and deceit. I adore the character arcs and I simply cannot wait for what is going to happen between Jude and Cardan. The plot twists were so insane. I hadn’t read a YA fantasy book that had me on the edge of my seat and had me gladly suspend disbelief in a while. I’ll be picking up the next book as soon as it hits shelves.

 

Educated by Tara Westover – This year I read a Image result for educatedcouple of memoirs but this one was by far the best one. One of my favorite things about it was the narrator’s voice. It is completely raw and honest in its discussion of what she remembers won’t exactly be accurate all the time but that she tries to confirm with other witnesses. She surprisingly stays pretty much neutral and objective even when talking about the most horrific things that have happened to her which can sometimes be frustrating because I wanted to know what she thought of being in that situation. I loved reading about her journey written with stark descriptions of the nature that she grew up in. I loved reading about her realizations about the world she lived in and where she fit into that world and the power she gained by getting an education.

Image result for single ladies rebecca traister

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister – Nonfiction was definitely my jam this year and this was the most well-crafted I read this year. Although at first, I considered this book to be especially niche considering it is about single ladies but it turned out to be all encompassing and really lays out how this trend will affect society hereafter. It gave me so much food for thought. It gave me thoughts about how this trend will affect dating, marriage, work life, housing, the job market, and most importantly,  longstanding prejudices against single women.

March Vol. 3 by John Lewis – What I love most about this series and Image result for march vol 3this book in particular is its refusal to quite literally be black and white. Although the end goal of the civil rights movement was right, the means to get there was debated and argued. The dissent among the people of the movement, the focus on moderates of the movement.

The fact of the matter is no movement is as clean cut, heroic, and simple as one would believe. The cause is heroic but the reality is behind the scenes, there is much debating and sacrificing even your views for the greater cause. But what happens after is something worth seeing through.

Image result for the poppy warThe Poppy War by RF Kuang – Although the ending of this novel is kind of eh, there is no doubting the immense entertainment provided by its relentless main character, its study of military strategy and the often overlooked Unit 731 human experiments. I cannot wait to see where the series goes.

TV

The Haunting of Hill House – Scary and tense, the Image result for the haunting of hill houseHaunting of Hill House was absolutely incredible. More of a family drama than a horror story, it proves horror can be just as character driven as other genres.

Image result for the marvelous mrs maiselThe Marvelous Mrs Maisel Season 1 – I fell in love with Maisel and her can do attitude. The bright vividness of the production and the snappy editing and dialogue never ceased to entertain. Although season 2 failed to live up to my high expectations, the first season is so worth watching.

 

 

 

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Anne with an E Season 2– Anne with an E reminds me of everything that is quaint and wholesome in the world. It reminds me of my childhood reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Anne’s optimism is always appreciated as she fights for what is true to her.

This season focused much on the secondary characters including Gilbert, Diane, newcomer Cole, and Anne’s foster parents. They are each endearing in their own ways and each are finding out how they belong in this world. It’s so positive and accepting you can’t help but love this show.

Image result for love season 3Love season 3 – I’m so happy more realistic rom com TV shows are being made and this one has stuck with me throughout all these years. I completely adore the hidden satire in this series. Of course, the main draw of any rom com is the main couple. The main couple in this one is

Fargo Season 1 – I can’t believe I actually watched thisImage result for fargo season 1 show this year! It’s amazing. It’s actually quite a metaphoric show attached to a realistic often violent core. Martin Freeman is an actor I’ve always loved and I think he does a beautiful job in this one. This show is well crafted on every level from its acting to its screenplay to its editing and directing.

Movies

Crazy Rich Asians – I might love drama and intense action but at my core, there is no beating a romantic story. Crazy Rich Asians delivered on so many fronts for me. It breathes air to the stagnant trope of rich boy meets poor girl trope and the “evil mother in law” trope while being generally funny and heartwarming. This is my favorite type of commercial movie, one that is original, detailed, and passionate but still adheres to a simple formula.

Games

2018 is the year I discovered my love of games. Although it will never replace my love for books and binging TV shows, I really have found happiness in the competitiveness and stories in games.

Image result for stardew valleyStardew Valley – I love this game. It’s so cute and relaxing. You literally just take care of a farm and befriend the villagers and discover new creatures and alternatively, types of fish. There’s always things to do that keep it from becoming boring.

Soul Calibur – Soul Calibur brings me back nostalgia for fighting games. Unlike a lot of games I’m attracted to, Soul Calibur really forced me to pay attention to how I press buttons and thinking more about the movement and strategy instead of just mashing random ones like I use to do.

Polytopia – Polytopia is a simple game that still results in numerous end results plus the animation is just hella cute so there’s that too. I love the strategy you have to employ to gain control over others’ territory.

MakeupImage result for tarte microliner

Tarte Microliner – Eyeliner is my favorite piece of makeup and the tarte microliner is my favorite eyeliner I’ve ever used. It is so good; it’s shaped like a fine tip pen. It’s easy to use but very precise for the perfect winged tip. It dries really fast and does not smear but is super easy to take off.  I have such a higher standard for eyeliners now that I’ve used this one.

Image result for maybelline fit me foundationMaybelline fit me foundation – This foundation color is a perfect fit for my skin undertone. It’s not too heavy and has a more dewy finish which is perfect for me. The best part of this foundation is the drugstore price. It is amazing for the price.

Music

This year was definitely the year of the popular kpop. I fell in love with Seventeen (my favorite being “Thanks”. I love their music and will continue to listen to any new albums they come out. Although Seventeen is my favorite, I can’t forget BTS, NCT, and Red Velvet.

This was also the year of Ariana Grande, my favorite release this year being thank u, next. I don’t know, I just really like her songs but don’t ask to explain why.

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tv review · Uncategorized

TV Review: The Haunting of Hill House

Image result for the haunting of hill house netflix

Title: The Haunting of Hill House

Director: Mike Flanagan

Based on the book: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Season: 1

Episodes: 10, ~42-71 minutes each

Rating: A-

 

I am so happy I found The Haunting of Hill House. I sincerely wish all horror was made this way and it really proves not only how versatile horror is but also why I love the TV form more than movies. I read the book this show was based on a while ago so I had forgotten a lot of what happened but from reviews I’ve read I understand that the show differentiates significantly from the book. In the show, the story follows 5 siblings of the Crain family in their adulthood as they cope with the aftermath of their childhood at Hill House. Their childhood was filled with strange occurrences and mysterious sightings of evil ghosts. On their last day at the Victorian Hill House, they left with the father in a hurry, only knowing their mother had died. As the story continues, it is revealed through flashback what exactly happened or didn’t happen all those years ago.

The first reason this show is so awesome is the way that jump scares are placed. They are placed in moments after achingly slow buildup and slow camera pans across dark rooms, ratcheting up the suspense and tension from one episode to the next. Funnily enough, the camera basically shows you what the scare is going to be but the real scare comes when you look back again and find the person or  the ghost is not what you thought it was at first glance. This, of course, makes the scare even more psychologically scary as the show does not rely on the violent or absurdly grotesque to tease out scares. In fact the real scares are whether or not these ghosts are the manifestations of the siblings’ inner demons. In fact, it is a relatively slow moving show taking the time to slowly lay down the important pieces of character and story over putting scares down. It is still perfectly paced and the cinematography is so masterfully slow and deliciously tense.

As Steven Crain states, “a ghost can be a lot of things. A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But, in my experience, most times they’re just what we want to see.” Steven, the oldest Crain sibling, is an author who writes, he believes, fictional tales of Hill House. He is sick of the fictional voices that his youngest siblings see. They should have gotten mental help for their delusions and figments of imagination a long time ago. Shirley, the second oldest and my least favorite, is a mortician and a control freak having witnessed 4 of her kittens die mysteriously at Hill House. She refuses to say these ghosts exist. Theo, the middle, struggles with emotional intimacy and then, the last two siblings were the ones who saw the most of Hill House’s ghosts. In adulthood, Luke becomes a drug addict and Nell is still haunted nights by the mysterious Bent-Neck Lady. The story shifts timelines going as back as six years ago all the way back to their childhood, each episode focusing on a sibling until it refocuses back to present events and what they will do moving forward. I was honestly surprised I got really emotional during Luke’s episode. He is quite gullible and trusting and genuinely wants to help his younger sister and the people he cares about but through his own naivety and drug addition, he is unable to. This show loves its characters and does not stray too far from its central characters’ development which is still so rare to see in horror but ultimately what I enjoyed most about this show. The siblings are all tied by their unique perspective on death and grief and even represent a deeper metaphor for depression, schizoprenia, migraines, and other mental conditions.

I love how much the show focuses on the house. The Victorian house is an entity on its own and I love each detail on its antiques, its expansive halls and rooms with mysterious treasures. With each episode, more of the house’s history and it’s original inhabitants are revealed. It really built up the suspense and mystery of the house, each sibling having a different relationship with it. It was fully integrated into the story. The story itself did delve a little bit into horror cliches, you know, with children drawing pictures of unsettling things to the age-old “mother is going crazy and hysterical” which only perpetuates the stereotype of female hysteria. The dialogue also leaves something to be desired although I didn’t really notice until the last few episodes. The ending also leaves something to be desired. I was happy we got answers but the ending was so cloying that I felt it didn’t match with the previous episodes. I wanted an uncertain ending but I suppose it does stay true to its characters and the family dynamic. Because the family has been threatened to be torn apart by this house, the ending is fitting that they start to face the demons they’ve been hiding from and come together as a family.

It was really interesting to see the family’s  fractured interactions with one another and their different relationships with or lack of with the others from what they experienced as a child. It definitely added an interesting way of telling each sibling’s perspective and the way each perspective is different because of what they experienced. For example, sheltered by their father and told to close his eyes on the fateful night their mother died, Steven did not see anything supernatural and refuses to believe that Hill House had any ghosts. Their mother died because their father was neglectful and didn’t get her the mental help she needed, causing resentment towards his father. Nell bore the brunt of seeing all these strange ghosts but no one believes her and she starts to believe she’s going crazy, still haunted by her dreams and sights. No one believes Luke either, thinking he is just a heroin addict, and although he wants to become clean, the only way to escape the ghosts he sees is to take drugs. And ultimately, that is what the show was about, the broken hopes and dreams of these siblings, how their tortured past continues to haunt them, but ultimately their inability to face their demons continues to stalk them into their adulthood. Their ghosts are the people they love, the people they have failed, their family, and even themselves. As they each cope and dodge their problems, it becomes apparent the ghosts have not left them. At the heart, it is not about people haunting the house or a scary entity wreaking havoc on lives. It is about the lies we tell ourselves, the denial, and the intimacy of a family that has had a horrible past connecting them for better or worse.

The Haunting of Hill House is so much more than typical horror fanfare and proves that horror can be done just as well for TV as a movie. I loved the exploration of character and mental health throughout and don’t think I have seen anything quite like it.

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wrap up

October 2015 Wrap Up!

I’m a little disappointed that I only read 5 books this month even though I expected it. I was hoping to read more scary books but oh well, it’s not like October is the only month I can read scary books. Anyways, here’s what I read this October.

(2/5)                                      (3.5/5)                                        (3.5/5)

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris– Really overhyped in my opinion. I most thought it was just boring for most of it, maybe I just don’t like reading murder mysteries or crime thrillers. All the characters were really uninteresting, stereotypical characters except maybe Hannibal Lector. I thought the dialogue was really choppy and cheesy. Just didn’t really work for me. Even the serial killer was a cookie cutter serial killer who’s suppose to be shocking and intense and dig into your deepest fears but just ended up being every TV show’s wannabe serial killer. Then again, this book probably came out before all those wannabe serial killers characters..

The Danish Girl by David Ebersboff– I initially read this book because I saw that the movie was coming out with Eddie Redmayne and I was literally obsessed with the trailer. I would have liked more internal character development in terms of the main character’s thoughts and why he chose to do certain things. But I thought the writing was so beautiful and artful and I think it was a worthwhile read.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson– The writing is delightfully eerie, the characters amusing but I think the critics’ reviews overhyped it for me because I was expecting something really scary..but it wasn’t..

               (2/5)                                    (3.75/5)

American Psycho by Bret Ellis-I’d been wanting to read this book for so long and I finally got to it and I was disappointed. I’ll be doing a full discussion on this one soon so I won’t write too much about it right now but long story short, I thought the violence was gratuitous and the writing was super repetitive to the point where I thought it was being preachy.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo-If you were “meh” about the Grisha trilogy like I was but still want to give Bardugo a shot, please pick up this book, it was a fun heist romp with an equally fun cast of characters (which I always have a soft spot for). You don’t have to read the Grisha trilogy to really know what’s going on but it’s just a bonus if you have. A little too many flashbacks that felt contrived and the character development was a little rushed at the end with no buildup but you know what, I had a lot of fun with it and I think you will too. Congratulations, Ms. Bardugo, I’m tentatively in your fangirl bandwagon..for now..

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of it! How was your October reading?

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Recommendations

Horror Recommendations: The Scary Edition

Yesterday was October 21, 2015 and I didn’t get a Perfect Pepsi or a Hoverboard for that matter ): Life is sad…and scary so I’m here to bring you my 2nd recommendations post: The Scary Edition. Horrible segueway I know LOL. This is kind of the in between post, if you want something creepy and dark and sometimes disturbing but nothing too crazy. Take this post with a grain of salt because I don’t get scared in books very easily. Movies are a different story but it takes a lot to scare me in a book.

Haunted House

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson- I wanted to so badly to put this one in my extreme scary edition because it had so much potential to be truly scary but the best it does is go into eerie and creepy territory. If you want the creeps with a healthy dose of well-crafted writing, I would totally check this out. Recommended if you like haunted houses of course.

Serial Killers

Nailbiter by Williamson-Henderson– A graphic novel about a serial killer who tears away his victim’s nails. The artwork has a
very dark palatte but I love the crisp colors and I liked learning about the different serial killers that have plagued this town. Definitely creepy.

Monster by Naoki Urasawa (manga)-Another serial killer story but this time about a patient that wasn’t suppose to be saved.. I think the author does a good job of building up to a lot of the events in the story and I think that’s as equally important as the scare itself. Oftentimes, the scene before the serial killer appears are the most scary and horrific. It makes the serial killer more scary and his actions even more unpredictable. And I think this take on a serial killer was really refreshing because a lot of authors think a scary serial killer is one that kills all these women as graphically as possible but Jonah is indiscriminate.

Iconic Characters

Carrie by Stephen King-I had the misconception that this book was true horror before starting it. It’s not. It’s more of a psychological thriller with a several touches of horror. It’s written through a series of documents and eyewitness accounts about a tragic girl and her equally horrific childhood. It’s disturbing and yet, in my opinion, it’s tame considering Stephen King’s other books.

Dracula by Bram Stoker– Dracula is one freaky vampire. Dracula is so creepy because he is written in such a mysterious way and his appearance appears to the reader as very unnatural and otherwordly. This is also a great place to start if you haven’t read a lot of classics but want to get into them.

Supernatural Creatures

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu- Dracula was not the first vampire book. The first vampire book was Carmilla even though it’s
actually a short story but technicalities. It’s a very seductive story and lures you into its characters.

The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney– Don’t underestimate the horror this book series can contain just because it’s a middle grade/YA series. There are some pretty..spooky..moments and freaky supernatural and grotesque creatures that roam this world. I think if you like RPG’s and games where you defeat dark creatures, this one’s for you.

I realize my horror reading is severely lacking when I think about horror recommendations for my next post which is the extreme scary one but hopefully I can remedy that by next Halloween. I hope you enjoyed these recommendations!

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TBR

October 2015 TBR

I actually make a point never to do TBR’s because I’m such a big mood reader but I broke my own rule..woops.. #yolo. But I have been planning a horror themed October where I read all the scary/horror/creepy books and I never feel like reading horror until October so here’s my chance..

I’m definitely not going to get to all of these and this is a very tentative TBR but here are all the books I hope to get to.

From left to right:

  1. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  3. Tales of Horror by HP Lovecraft
  4. Nos4a2 by Joe Hill
  5. Let Me in by John Lindqvist
  6. The Shining by Stephen King
  7. Locke and Key (graphic novel) by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  8. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee
  9. The Child Thief by Brom
  10. The Omen by David Seltze
  11. Horrostor by Grady Hendrix

If you have any recommendations for horror especially more recent ones or ones written by female authors, I would love to hear about it! I’m so excited to be sharing my October themed posts as well! 🙂 Happy October reading!

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