2018: Autumn Favorites

So, it’s the end of the year. Winter Solstice was yesterday, officially ending the Autumnal Season and Christmas is literally around the corner. You know what that means?? It’s winter! And also it’s time to share my autumn favorites of this year!

BOOKS:

  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
    I’d heard of Sabriel a few times over the years, briefly, but didn’t go further than a quick scan for it at the bookstore when there but never bothered to search for it online or anything. It had just been one of those books I had on my giant mental list of books to read. Well, after hearing about it again, I decided to actively put it on my to read list and search for a copy. I finally–as in months later–found a copy at a Goodwill, an enormous bind-up of the first three books in the series, then a trilogy. I didn’t know much about the trilogy except that there was necromancy involved and gates in “Death” but I didn’t know what that meant. This book immediately shot up to top of my “favorite books of all time” list, easily in my top ten. It’s such an incredible world the world Nix has created with an interesting, unique magic system. It’s such a great story and wonderfully executed. I’m incredibly sad I hadn’t heard of it or cared to hear of it while in high school, because I would’ve eaten it right up. But I’m at least glad that I found it now.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    Quite possibly my favorite read of the year. This is a long, dense book and I read it in a month–which for many people is ridiculous, but I’m a slow reader and often read many books at a time, and for me this book would’ve normally taken several months if it were any other story. I’m a sucker for collegiate novels, for books about murder, and for books about secret clubs–this book has all of those things and it sucked me in hard and I, most of the time, didn’t want to put it down. I read it in large chunks of fifty to seventy-five pages at a time, which is a lot for me. Though I wasn’t a fan of the end, it didn’t disappoint me too much where I disliked the book because of it. The journey getting to that end was well worth it enough for me to consider rereading the book sometime in the future, which is something I rarely do.

Films:

  • Alien: Covenant
    Okay, so I know Prometheus is not the greatest movie of all time. I get it. I’ve read enough articles about why people disagree with me on liking it, but I’m not a complete idiot. A lot of it wasn’t great. But it’s still one of my favorites and I liked it a heck of a lot more than any of the other Alien sequels (seriously, I only like the first Alien and not the others (okay, I guess Aliens is good, too)–and don’t get me started on the crossover with Predator, ugh.) Prometheus has a lot of elements that I love, it’s gorgeous to look at, and I can look past its faults and see the goodness in it, whatever it was they were trying to say with the film. Now, Alien: Covenant? Its sequel? It started SO GOOD. The first half of that film was incredible. I couldn’t believe how good it was! And then…it just…hit a wall of crazy and I couldn’t make sense of how it had gone so bad and so wrong so quickly. Even still, I enjoyed watching the entire thing, even if I only thought the first half was good. I don’t even know if it was directly at the halfway point, it was just shortly after they found David. That’s when it started to go down hill. I loved it anyway, though.
  • Incredibles 2
    Seriously, just forget Marvel. I want seven Incredibles movies, a spinoff series, and a television show. I love this world so much, from this family to the rest of the supers. Everything from the animation, the music, the style, the story. Everything is good and I think I like this movie even more than the first. And The Incredibles is on my Top Five Favorite films of all time. That’s how much I loved this movie.
  • Maggie’s Plan
    I’m a huge fan of Greta Gerwig–from acting in Frances Ha (another of my Top Five Favorite films of all time) to writing and directing Lady Bird, she’s fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s Plan. She’s great it in, obviously, and Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore are equally great. It’s a funny and, at times, frustrating story to watch unfold, which made it a really enjoyable film to watch. I love movies that make me want to climb inside it and give advice to the characters. Not to fix or change what they’re doing because the movie is bad, but wanting to inject myself into the story because I’m so invested that I’m frustrated I can’t talk to them to help out the situation. That’s this type of movie–and I really liked it.

Music:

  • Feel it All Around by Washed Out
    This is the song used for the opening credits of Portlandia, my favorite sketch-comedy shows. It’s also one of my favorite songs. It’s mellow and repetitive, an easy song to get lost with.
  • Human by dodie
    Dodie is one of my favorite singer-songwriters and her latest song Human is astoundingly beautiful, in both sound and lyric.
  • Love is Blindness by The Damn Truth
    This cover of Love is Blindness was used in an ad for Yves Saint Laurent fragrance a few years ago and I was obsessed with it–a lot of people were, according to the comments section of the video. After finally figuring out the band, I wanted impatiently for them to release it as a single. Then I forgot about. But THEN, I recently remembered about this song and looked it up and they’d released it a year earlier! It’s so good.
  • Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea by MISSIO
    I first heard this song on an episode of How to Get Away with Murder and just loved the sound of it throughout the scene it was playing in. After listening to it all, I couldn’t stop. It was on repeat for a solid week.
  • Monster Mashup by Pomplamoose (feat. Tessa Violet)
    I’m in love with this Halloween-themed mashup of Thriller and the Ghostbusters theme song (and some others). It’s such a great, fun version of these songs.

Television:

  • American Horror Story: Apocalypse
    I’ve had a love-no thanks relationship with American Horror Story, only having seen a few seasons in completion (one, three, and eight) but for the most part, love the ridiculousness of it. I was particularly excited for this season because it took two seasons I loved and had watched, season one and three, and crossed them over. Now, this season wasn’t great–the end in particular irritated me. But for the most part, it was fun to watch and I enjoyed getting more of the witches from Coven. I wish it was just a show about them, tbh. And I also enjoyed the addition of Cody Fern, who is a phenomenal actor–I loved him in The Assassination of Gianni Versace this past year.
  • Single Parents
    I was pleasantly surprised to love this sitcom as much as I did, and am continuing to do. It’s hilarious, I love the characters, all the child actors and their characters are amazing and hilarious. All the adults are funny. Everything about this show is good and I didn’t think I’d even like it! It’s a cute show!
  • The Walking Dead
    The Walking Dead has had its ups and downs…and downs. But I’m in this for the long haul. I read the comics, I love the characters and world, and I’m going to stick it out. I decided this during the Negan Era, the worst two seasons the show has had, in many people’s opinions, including mine. There were some bright spots, but for the most part, I was just waiting for it to be over. And now that time has come! We’re getting a new start with this show and I’m digging it thus far. Rick leaving worked for me–even how they did it–and I like their big ideas with his character. I like where they’re going. I love the time jump, even! The Whisperers’ introduction was one of the best of the show in this new era! I’m ready for this show to get good again and I have–hesitantly–high hopes.

Other:

  • Fracter
    Now, if you know me, you know that I’m not into many games. But recently, in the last few years, I’ve found a few apps for my phone that I really enjoy. Fracter is one of them. This game–which I’ve already completed and am impatiently waiting for a follow up, if they were to have one–is phenomenal. The design of it alone is incredible enough to consider playing. The look is what drew me to it and I stayed for the puzzling levels that kept growing and growing in size to an overwhelming finale. I couldn’t stop playing it!
  • Two Dots
    The other game I play often is Dots & Co, and this sequel to the original puzzle game Dots, has now become my new obsession. Two Dots has a similar vibe and style to Dots & Co, but has different features and mechanics that are great. I really enjoy playing it whenever I have some extra time in a car ride or when I can’t sleep.
  • Anker – Wireless Keyboard
    Because my Macbook recently called it quits, I’ve been using a desktop for the first time in–well, since I was thirteen and used my parent’s computer to chat with friends on MSN. I miss the portability of a laptop, though, and for writing it’s sometimes essential to get out of the office. So, I bought a wireless keyboard to connect to my iPad and I love it. It’s so much better than using the keypad built-in, which takes up half the screen when I use the Scrivener app, which is the program I use to write in. It’s a great keyboard that connects automatically, lasts a while with battery, and I haven’t had any problems with it so far.

And just like that, autumn is over and winter has begun. The year is nearly over! It’s been an interesting year and I can’t wait to see what films, books, and music I’ll be enjoying next year.

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2018: Summer Favorites

Here are the books, music, films, and more that I’ve been enjoying this spring, roughly between April and now, early September:

Books:

  • 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.

Films:

  • 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.

Music:

  • 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.

Television:

  • 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.

Other:

  • 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.
  • 23andMe
    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.
  • Duolingo
    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.
  • Venmo
    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.

Favorite Book to Film/TV Adaptation

The Walking Dead

One of my favorite shows on television is The Walking Dead—I’m a big sci-fi, dystopia fan, and zombies are an always fun, often disgusting time. The show is based off of a series of comics by Robert Kirkman, a series I didn’t start getting into until way after the show. I’ve been reading the comics in the 6-issue bind-ups and I’m only on volume seven, but they’re great. It’s cool to see the differences they’ve made with the show—characters added or taken out, storylines differing—and they’re really quick reads. I’ve been buying them when on sale and picking a weekend to enjoy a few issues. As an adaptation, it’s really incredible. I think the show takes a lot of risks and is incredibly well-made—the effects work alone is worth watching.

The Hobbit

I’m a huge fantasy fan, and though I haven’t yet read The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien (I’ve seen all the films), I read The Hobbit a few years ago and loved it. Because I never saw the first trilogy in theaters, only later when on DVD, I’m glad I was able to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in theaters (I missed the third movie while it was in theaters, but have it on DVD) because these films were so incredible to watch on a big screen. The adaptation of the book was really well done, though I’m not certain an entire trilogy was necessary—the structure of the book seemed more like a two-parter. At any rate, it’s one of my favorite adaptations.

The Hunger Games

I’ve only seen the first two films in the quartet (for no other reason than neglecting to see them in theaters at the time, always forgetting, and just never remembering to pick them up on DVD), but I’ve read all three books, and The Hunger Games is one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen and certainly the best YA adaptation. It’s so perfectly adapted, getting everything just right, being as faithful as possible to the source material, having a really awesome style, and having some killer performances, especially from Jennifer Lawrence. Though, as a film, I enjoyed the second one more, but as an adaptation, the winner is the first in the series.

A Single Man

After hearing about the film starring Colin Firth, I read A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood one summer day and liked it—but then I saw the film and loved it so much more than the book. The film is very stylistic and Colin Firth’s performance is incredible and heartbreaking and I could watch it again and again. Honestly, it’s the rare occasion where the adaptation is several times better than the original book.

The Magicians

The Magicians is one of the coolest, fun shows on television right now. It’s funny and magical and disturbingly creepy at times—it’s like all the best parts of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia but for adults. It’s based on a trilogy of books by Lev Grossman, and though I haven’t read them yet, I have the first and plan on reading it this year. This is the only adaptation on my list that I haven’t read yet, but because I love the show so much, I’m assuming I’ll love the books even more.

Atonement

As one of my favorite films of all time, Atonement definitely needs to be mentioned even though I’ve never read the book—though I plan on it! The film is beautiful; every scene, every shot is stunning. And the performances are incredible—Keira Knightly does some of her best work, as does James McAvoy, and Romola Garai gives one of my favorite supporting performances—and of course Saoirse Ronan is so young and so brilliant in the film it astounds me. Everything from the style, the era, the score—which I still regularly listen to—is just perfect to me. And I’m sure the book will be just as incredible.