Monthly Reviews

October Round Up

october wallpaper

Goodbye October! At least we get to send you off in fine style with Halloween tomorrow. Warning: This is a super long blog post as I finally caught up reviewing stuff and I even had to cut some stuff out that I will post later or make into a zine.

Fave 5 3 from the blog

New Stuff

Links I Loved

Reading

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
I loved this book SO MUCH that I’m not sure I can write anything coherent but I will try. Mild spoilers ahead if you haven’t read Fangirl, I guess. So with Rainbow’s previous book Fangirl, some of us found we were almost becoming more invested in the characters in protagonist Cath’s fan fiction over Cath’s own story. Luckily for us, Rainbow also felt a bit like that and now we get a whole standalone book about Simon Snow. It’s her take on the Chosen One story and owes a great deal to Harry Potter, but is a little older, more diverse in cast and much much funnier. Its general plot is Simon’s final year at the Watford School of Magicks, facing up to the big bad etc. but much of that is set dressing for a love story between Simon (“the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen”) and his roommate/nemesis/sworn enemy Baz, a hilariously snarky, angst-ridden vampire. Add in Simon’s best friend, the kick-ass super-smart Penelope, and a very clever magic system, plus all the usual magical school of wizards tropes and I couldn’t bear to put it down (I read it in two days and then immediately read it again). I now have all the feels about Simon and Baz, want to be Penelope, and have possibly worn out the highlight quote button on my kindle. Even if this sounds awesome to you, I would probably still start with Fangirl – I’m not sure Carry On can really be appreciated fully unless you’ve already worked yourself up into a Simon and Baz frenzy. (Buy Fangirl or Carry On on Amazon)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
And then I remembered I had another of her books on my kindle from a 99p sale. Landline is the first of her adult books that I’ve read and I just couldn’t relate to the main character Georgie and her marriage woes, despite being much closer in age. Of all the characters in the book, I was least interested in her husband and kids and wanted to know more about her TV writing room friends and teenage half-sister, but they barely get a look-in. Still a good read though and certainly my favourite book with a magic telephone that can phone up your past. (Buy on Amazon)

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Another 99p purchase, this is billed as Pride and Prejudice from the viewpoint of the servants. That’s a great idea and the tone and characters all fits in seamlessly with that world, adding an extra believable level to the book. Sadly that wasn’t enough for the author, who had to overshadow that with a big melodramatic story of her own involving mostly-invented characters, meaning many of the big events of P&P are only mentioned after the fact and established characters get some uncomfortable backstory that’s sure to taint future readings of P&P. Overall, it ends up feeling like it was an original story shoe-horned into Jane Austen’s work to take advantage of her massive fanbase. Maybe I wouldn’t have read it otherwise, but it was a strong enough story on its own. (Buy on Amazon)

Unread books update: 1 down, 0 added, 12 to go. It’s going to be tough to meet my end of the year deadline, isn’t it?

Watching

Music For Misfits: The Story of Indie
This was a really good documentary. Although it didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, it was well worth watching for the footage and the nostalgia. Fittingly, the early stuff was the best – the final Britpop episode was as dull as some of the bands. Still on iPlayer

The Story of Scottish Art
I have very few positive memories of art history classes – most of them were endlessly boring slideshows – but I am enjoying this a lot. Helps that the presenter (the guy from the Great British Painting Challenge) is super-enthusiastic and wanders around landscapes and museums drawing constantly in his sketchbook. Also still on iPlayer.

Things I saw at the cinema

The Martian
Considering I have been hyped about this since I read the book last spring, it took me a surprisingly long time to get myself to the cinema. It was pretty much worth the wait though as everything looked amazing and so much better than my feeble imagination could come up with. Anyone who can watch those sweeping Martian landscapes without feeling a bit emotional doesn’t deserve a space program. They did a good job of adapting the book too, making the science stuff understandable and bulking up the NASA characters into a bigger part of the story. Not quite as funny as the book, but I do want to see it again sometime.

Everest
I always see films in 2D but every now and then I think ‘that will be awesome in 3D’ and fork out for the IMAX. The whole high altitude mountaineering thing is a massive NOPE for me, but it sure makes for exciting visuals. The film is based on the 1996 disaster related in Jon Krakauer’s riveting book Into Thin Air, but they probably would have been better changing the names and fictionalising it a bit as it’s all a bit muddled and confusing, managing to both not explain technical stuff for people who haven’t read the books, and over-explaining other things, plus having to invent parts that no-one who survived was witness to. None of that really matters in IMAX though as the real enjoyment is the CGI landscape they created from filming at Everest and watching the camera swoop around and show off all the horrifying heights and enormity. One for the ‘see it in IMAX or don’t bother’ list, alongside Gravity.

They also showed the Star Wars trailer beforehand. I haven’t been super-excited for it, but it was unbelievable in IMAX and felt like the greatest thing ever. Say what you like about JJ Abrams, but the man knows how to make a movie trailer.

What did Lovefilm send me?

Tomorrowland, which I had no recollection of adding to my list and had no idea why or what the hell was going on, until it all finally clicked into place as a really fun family sci-fi film that would be perfect Boxing Day viewing. It’s about an alternate futuristic version of Earth that’s recruiting new people to help build it and the design of it is brilliant. Always a fan of films with smart teen girl space nerd protagonists too.

The Wolf of Wall Street, which was very entertaining, but also about 2 hours longer than it needed to be. I thought it would never end.

And now I am finally watching S7 of Mad Men. I never miss Mad Men when it’s not on, or look forward to new seasons (hence waiting two years to watch this one all together), but I really enjoy it when it’s on. No idea where it’s all going (no spoilers, thanks) but I’m sure it will be worth it.

Listening

There aren’t many artists whose work I bother pre-ordering but an Annie / Richard X collaboration is always one of them. The whole EP is great.

How was your month?

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