I was going to make a Spring Favorites post before this one, but this past summer was just too busy for me to even think about it. So instead, I mashed up my spring and summer favorites into one post. Here’s all my favorite books, movies, shows, and more from the past few months!
- The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab
I’ve mentioned that Victoria V.E. Schwab is my favorite author. And her trilogy, Shades of Magic, is one of my favorite fantasy series. The Steel Prince is a comic book prequel to that trilogy. I read the first volume (six or so issues) and really enjoyed it. The world she’s built is incredible and I really loved seeing that world come to life visually.
- The Circle by Dave Eggers
The Circle is a terrifying look into our immediate future, or even our present. It shows the worst part of social media and connectivity, an Orwellian glimpse of what companies like Facebook and Google could become — or are already. Although I raced through what is essentially a story about a young woman starting a new job as if it were a spy thriller, I was disappointed in the protagonist’s character arc — which, to me, wasn’t much of an arc at all. Regardless, I enjoyed the book. Even if it made me want to never log in to any social media account again.
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
The book – or I should say, essay – A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf is one of the best things I’ve ever read. I loved what it says about women and writing: that if they just had a place of their own and the monetary support as men do, they too could reach the notoriety of the great writers of the past, like Shakespeare, for their talents in writing. She brilliantly illustrates this with her essay, imagining a world in which the Bard had an equally-talented sister. It’s a great, important read that I highly recommend to all, but especially those who write.
Film & Television:
- Killing Eve, Season Two
I’ve had Killing Eve on my favorites list before but I had to add season two specifically, because it was so good. I’m in awe of the acting ability of Jodie Comer and, as always, Sandra Oh. The writing of this show is fantastic, the dynamic between the two women is genuinely fascinating. And the music??? Ugh, the music is just incredible. I love this show so much.
Y’alllllll this film was hilarious. The writing was smart and it felt real, as of not just this general decade, but of this year. It was one of the better depcitions of teens and coming-of-age stories that I’ve seen. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are truly two of the best actresses of this younger generation. And every side character’s acting (some of them weren’t even professional actors) was great. Billie Lourd’s Gigi is the best, I think about her at least six times a day. Also, I will be pronouncing Barcelona as Noah Galvin does for the rest of time, as it should be pronounced.
This film was beautiful and disturbing and incredible and horrific. It’s such an experience to watch. A beautifully shot, incredibly designed, sometimes-gory experience. The most beautiful horror movie of all time? It’s a trip and a half. It’s intense. I loved it and never want to watch it again. I was completely alone in the theater which was weirdly great – I was able to sit comfortably while the most disturbing piece of art I’d ever seen played out before my eyes. I was glad to be alone. Other thoughts: Ari Aster is brilliant. Florence Pugh is so incredible in everything I’ve seen her in and she’s beyond in this. And, spoilers: Christian had it coming. I’m really sad about the bear.
Aaaaaand, speaking of Killing Eve, Unloved is a band and a lot of the music played on the show is their own. I love the music on that show and I’ve been enjoying their music a lot. I especially love When a Woman is Around and Crash Boom Bang. These songs were kind of the soundtrack to my entire June and July.
- Billie Eilish
My GOD, this girl is talented. Her music is so dark. It’s like depression with a beat. Her videos are real creepy too and I like it. I especially love her songs, When the Party’s Over, Bury a Friend, Ocean Eyes, and of course, the song of the summer, Bad Guy.
Yooo this new band is great. Their first single still feel. was my jam for a few months after it was released and now their whole album has come out and it’s so good. Here’s literally just a list of the songs that I’m loving: ok ok?, arrow, creature, RUNAWAY, and ice cold (feat. Kimbra). Soooo good.
- CJ Bissett
Ok. So. I know of CJ Bissett through his sister’s YouTube channel. He’s recently just released his very first gothic folk rock album, Arthur & Jane, and I looooove it. It’s an incredible album. Some favorite tracks: So He Waited, Arthur & Jane, Pink Flower, Gimme a Year, and Take it to the Ocean.
My current favorite song is Everything Apart by Foxwarren. I can’t describe why I love it so much, it just has that perfect tempo and sound that I’ve been looking for in a song. It’s my true match. A perfect song. I also really love their song Sunset Canyon.
- Vampire Weekend
And last but not least, Vampire Weekend’s new album (Father of the Bride) came out a real long ass time ago, but I didn’t do a Spring Favorites post so it’s coming up now. I listened to this album almost exclusively during all of May. There was some special moments back during that month and I immediately remember them when listening to any of the songs. My favorites are these: Harmony Hall, Bambina, This Life, and Sympathy.
So this past spring, I had a bit of a mental hiccup and quarter-life crisis. Again. No big deal, it’s fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine. I basically did nothing during all of April. One thing I DID do, is become enraptured by the wonderful world of StarKid. I originally watched A Very Potter Musical when it came out while I was in high school but didn’t know until 2016 that they’d done other shows! It was the “I Don’t Want to do the Work Today” meme from their show Firebringer that allowed me to re-find them. But when I originally went to watch it, I saw that it was two hours long and I didn’t have time, so I saved it for later…then promptly forgot about it. Three years later, this year, I remembered it and decided to watch. It was hilarious. I loved it. I moved on to their other shows, The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, Twisted, and my personal favorite, The Trail to Oregon! They’re all great. And that led me to find the group the Tin Can Bros, some of the guys from the StarKid crew who make their own stuff together. Their show, Spies are Forever, was so good and featured a familiar face to me, Mary Kate Wiles from my favorite web series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. Which leads me too…
- Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party
The team of Shipwrecked, Mary Kate included, often collaborates with some of the StarKid and Tin Can Bros crew. So from StarKid, it led me all the way to to find my current favorite web series/film: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party. It’s a very funny story of Edgar Allan Poe inviting a group of literary guests (anachronistically ranging from Mary Shelley to Hemingway) for a murder mystery dinner party that becomes and ACTUAL murder mystery. It’s so good and funny. It’s the best. I plan on watching it again around Halloween.
- Nathaniel Drew
I recently stumbled upon Nathaniel Drew’s YouTube channel and I really dig his videos. He has such a great point of view, has incredibly well-shot and edited videos, and has really been changing the way I look at things. I really appreciate the time and effort he puts into his videos.
- Nikki Nasty (Nicole Rafiee)
My new favorite, hands down. She’s hilarious. Her videos are just about her life, being at college, being vegan, jokes about her dad who left her as a child, etc. just stuff like that. She’s so funny and her videos are edited so well. She makes a video about gluing rhinestones to her inhaler entertaining as hell. She’s great!
Okay that’s all my favorites from the last few months! I can’t believe it’s already fall. The leaves are starting to change! It’s getting cold! It’s insane. I’m exhausted already. Stay safe and brace yourself for the coming winter, folks. It’s coming up fast.
Here are the books, music, films, and more that I’ve been enjoying this spring, roughly between April and now, early September:
- Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa
I bought this book solely because of the cover and I ended up really enjoyed it. It’s about a guy who works at a confectionery shop in Japan (making dorayaki, which is sweet bean paste spread between two pancakes) and an elderly woman who requests to work there to teach him how to make the perfect sweet bean paste. It’s a good read.
- Corpses, Coffins, & Crypts: A History of Burial by Penny Colman
I usually don’t read non-fiction, but I’ve been wanting to do some more learning now that I’m done with school. I have a whole plan and maybe I’ll do a post about it someday. Anyway, I read this book about death and it was fascinating. Penny Colman takes you on a journey that’s both personal and historical about what it means to die, to be buried, cremated, or entombed. It talks about different cultures and how they go about honoring their dead. It’s truly fascinating – though, a bit dark and morbid, so if that’s not your thing, skip it. But I think there’s plenty of lighter, uplifting messages within the book, too, to balance it out. It’s an interesting read.
- The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
I read The Nest during BookTube-A-Thon and it was such a great read. It’s about a wealthy family of siblings from New York City who are all awaiting their trust fund – the Nest – to be given to them after the money was needed to take care of an accident caused by the eldest, drug-addicted brother. As they wait to be paid back by him, the siblings all deal with their own financial and family issues. It’s told from multiple perspectives (more than just the siblings) and it’s honestly a book I didn’t want to put down – which rarely happens. I don’t know if it’s because of the time frame of the readathon, but I definitely flew through it and loved it.
- Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Another BookTube-A-Thon book, Annihilation was a weird, weird science fiction book about an all-female team entering into Area X, a mysterious alien-like landscape of creatures with devastating effects, mentally and physically, to those who enter. It’s a bit of a trip. It definitely didn’t follow a traditional plot structure, the storytelling was unique and it was nothing like anything I’ve ever read before. It was such a good read and I can’t wait to read the whole trilogy. And see the film with Natalie Portman that just recently came out – though I think I want to read all the books first, because I think they changed a lot for the film, so I want them to be completely separate in my head.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Empire
As summer is always the most busy time of year for me, I was only able to see one new film – and I even saw it in the theater! For my 25th birthday, as I was born in the same year as the original Jurassic Park movie’s release, I kind of had to celebrate our 25th anniversary together. I wasn’t too big of a fan of Jurassic World, although I liked it, it just wasn’t fantastic. However, Fallen Empire far surpassed my expectations…well, for the first half anyway. The first half of the movie is, by far, my favorite part of the entire franchise – maybe just under the original movie. But it’s so close. I wish the first half of Fallen Kingdom had been the whole movie because it was literally so so so good. The second half parred just about the same as the first Jurassic World, so good but not great. But that first half, y’all. THAT FIRST HALF. I want to watch it again and again just for that.
- Mean Girls
I’m not someone who is known as a musical theater person. But even saying that, I feel like it’s slightly wrong to say about myself. Even when I told my sister that I was currently obsessed with the Mean Girls musical, she was like “Yeah, that checks out.” I guess I grew up with musicals as a kid (all movies: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, West Side Story, Wizard of Oz just to name a few) and in high school/early college, I loved the movie Chicago and I was thrilled to see the touring production of Beauty & the Beast in my senior year of high school. I think I’m the type of person who would have joined my school’s musical theater program if we were to have on, but we didn’t, so musicals were kept as a dormant hobby of mine that crept up here and there, but took FULL BLOWN CONTROL of my life the moment I heard about the Mean Girls musical. Mean Girls is my favorite teen comedy. Everything Tina Fey does is perfection, so when I knew she was writing the musical too, I was in. What I didn’t expect was to love it so much. I listened to the few songs released as “singles” over and over again, then repeated the whole cast album probably six times in a single weekend. I definitely didn’t watch the full bootleg of the show that someone uploaded to YouTube and loved it, though. That didn’t happen. But seriously, the songs are great, the show’s hilarious, and Taylor Louderman is just BEYOND EXCEPTIONAL as Regina. Her voice is insane.
- High as Hope by Florence + the Machine
If you didn’t know, Florence + the Machine is my favorite band (band? singer? duo?) in the history of the universe. A new album has been released and its just so so so good. My favorites on the album include: Hunger, Sky Full of Song, South London Forever, and Patricia. It’s just so good. I believe, possibly, this might be my second favorite album of Florence’s. Ceremonials is still my favorite – and will probably stay that way – but High as Hope is so close to it.
- ‘Sila’ (feat. Tanya Tagaq) by A Tribe Called Red
I first heard this song in the trailer for the film Thoroughbreds and I became obsessed with it. I’m always looking for lyric-less songs to listen to while writing, and this one is an intense, sort of terrifying, rad jam that’s just perfect for scenes that are intense, rad, and sort of terrifying. Which I happen to write a lot of. It’s a good fight scene song.
- ‘Issues’ by Julia Michaels
First heard this song during the trailer for the show Killing Eve (more about that later) and fell in love with it. Julia Michaels’ voice is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard (watching her perform and getting to hear the way her voice sounds live is great). It’s a really great song that’s almost addicting to listen to.
- ‘no tears left to cry’ by Ariana Grande
I was LATE to the party, but this song by Ariana Grande is addicting to listen to. I mean her vocals are always incredible but there’s just something about this song that I love. It’s simultaneously mellow and kind of sad but it’s also a banger and I love it.
- ‘Crush’ by Tessa Violet
Tessa’s been one of my favorites for a long time – I’ve watched her on YouTube for years and I love her style of music. This song is killin’ it and it’s so catchy and I love it and can’t stop listening to it.
- Killing Eve
THIS IS MY FAVORITE SHOW OMG. Okay, calm down. It’s just so good. Sandra Oh has been a favorite forever and she’s incredible in this show as Eve. This weird ass, comedic spy thriller is the greatest show I’ve ever watched. The performances. The writing. Everything is so spot on. There wasn’t a single episode I didn’t like. Not a single scene! Everything about it is so good!
- Station 19
I’m an avid watcher of the Shonda Rhime’s produced/created shows on ABC during the TGIT line-up. Grey’s Anatomy has been one of my favorite shows for years, How to Get Away with Murder is addicting, and I love Scandal, and now that Scandal is over, in its place is a Grey’s spin-off about firefighters that is soooo great. I was hesitant when first hearing about it, not really thinking I would like it, but it’s managed to grip me as much as Grey’s Anatomy had the first time I watched it.
- RX Bars
I’ve been eating more healthy lately (well, not lately lately, but in general) and Larabars have been my go-to because my local grocery store has them on sale for 10 single bars for $10. But they’re not my favorite. Because now I’ve discovered the more-than-twice-as-expensive-but-also-twice-as-delicious RX Bars. They have the same idea of being made with whole foods, but they do it so much better. The flavors are stronger, the dates are less prominent, and the egg whites make them more chewy. THEY’RE SO GOOD. BUT SO EXPENSIVE. GAHHHH.
- Spirits Podcast
This isn’t new to me, nor is it new to one of my favorites lists here on the blog. I’ve written about it in the past, but Spirits Podcast is just the best. I wasn’t listening to many podcasts for a while, mostly because I wasn’t going for my walks as often. Podcasts just sort of fell out of my routine. But now that it’s nicer outside, I’ve been walking almost everyday, and I’ve rediscovered my favorite podcast and catching up on the episodes I’ve missed. Spirits talks about some of my favorite things: myths, legends, monsters, ghosts. It’s such a good podcast with two incredible hosts, tipsily talking about my favorite things – literally so funny and interesting and awesome.
- Hit the Bricks
Speaking of podcasts, I’ve been getting into audio dramas lately and this one couldn’t have come at a better time. My friend PJ created Hit the Bricks, which is set in the universe of the Wizard of Oz books. The pilot – which is fantastic – is out now and I can’t wait for there to be more. I’m already hooked into this story and I want to know what happens.
I did the thing. I spit in the tube. Which was gross. But then I got my ancestry results in two weeks. Which was not gross. It was so cool. I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time but didn’t have the money and then my parents gifted me a kit for my birthday. What were my results? I’m very white. Like, 97% white. But what KIND of white am I? 22% French and German (Netherlands), 15% Finnish, 8% Scandinavian (Sweden), 12% English and Iris (UK), 3% Eastern European, 2.5% Iberian, .5% Southern European (Italian; was expecting more since my great grandfather literally immigrated from there so…haha) and like 30% just BROAD European/Northern European. Which is a big percentage that isn’t accounted for (maybe all my Italian hiding???). I really want my parents to also do this so I can connect them and mine will be more accurate. And then! I’m also 2.5% East Asian and Native American (.3% Northern Asian/Native American and 2.3% Native American) and .1% South East African (it originally told me I was North African/Arabian, but that has since become more accurate, which is odd.) Several things were surprising (like not having much Italian and having that small bit of African) but some things weren’t (I knew I was Native American on both sides of my family and I knew that I was Swedish, but I didn’t know I was Finnish at all; this has been a debate in our family but apparently we are from the Swedish part of Finland, which makes sense that my great grandparents came from Finland but spoke and were culturally “Swedish”.) I’ve always wanted to know my ancestry (and still want more info when my parents do it!) and now I do! I want so badly to be able to meet the people in my lineage, to hear the story of every ancestor I have. It’s just such a cool thing we can do, it truly is.
So there was a strong possibility that I was going to go live in Madrid, Spain (yeah yeah 2.5% Iberian!) for about 8 months but it isn’t going to work out, unfortunately. I’ve been very bummed about it. But anyway, during the weeks that I thought I was going, I started Duolingo to learn a bit of Spanish to help me while I was over there. It’s such a great app, especially if just to learn the basics like greetings and dining out and useful tourist stuff. I don’t know how accurate it would be to become fluent, but it’s a fun app that makes it easy to learn a new language.
I’ve heard of Venmo a million times but never cared about it until one day, my cousin asked me to do some work for her editing her college essays and papers. She told me she’d pay me for it, which was awesome because I needed the money, and I loved getting back into that collegiate frame of mind. It made me miss my days of writing essays and papers (which, weirdly, I loved). Anyway, she had me get Venmo to make it easier and it totally was. Venmo rocks. Also, every time someone gives you money, the little notification sound is a ding and a cash-register sound. It’s adorable.