Stories of the Month: December 2017

December has been a super busy month filled with finals, travelling, and holidays, but I managed to squeeze in some time for fun and devoured a few stories this month! Here’s to a new year and hopefully more great stories!

Movies

Little White Lies [Les Petits Mouchoirs]—French Film—(2010) 

I went into this film not knowing that it was 2 and a half hours long… that said, I enjoyed the story line. It was a bit long for my taste, but I needed to watch it for my French class so I spread out the watching process over 2 days. I also had no clue what this film was about until I started watching, so it was a bit depressing once I realized it centered around death, like the other movie I watched for this class *face palm* But again, I liked the film, it’s a good one to watch if you’re into French films.

My Grade: B-
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%

Television

Big Family Cooking Showdown—Netflix original—(2017)

I haven’t fully finished this yet, but I am enjoying the cozy nature of this cooking show, reminiscent of Bake Off. I loved Nadia when she won Bake Off a couple of seasons ago and she is such a sweet host for this show. The food makes my mouth water (even though English cuisine is much different to American food) and I find this is an easy program to turn on when I’m folding laundry or doing chores around my dorm.

My Grade: A

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—Amazon Original—(2017) 

I knew I would like this show because it’s written and produced by the Gilmore Girls team! If you have read my recent posts, I think I have mentioned several times that I’m currently re-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix because it’s my favorite cozy show to just put on in the background. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is no different! The humor and fast-paced dialogue is everything I hoped for and more. Rachel Brosnahan is fantastic in the title role and I loved the nod to Gilmore Girls in the return of Alex Borstein (also in the Lizzie McGuire Movie for those my age) as Susie. I loved the setting of the 1950’s as well because it feels extra wrong for a woman to separate from her husband in that day and age and the Jewish culture was hilariously represented by Midge’s family and her in-laws from episode one until the finale. I really hope they are already working on a second season because 8 episodes is simply not enough for me!

My Grade: A+
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

P.S. Even the IMDb page for this show is on brand!

Books

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero 34079578

Even though it was a slow reading month, I read one awesome book so I’m fine with that! This book was so sweet and I was genuinely impressed by how well R.M. Romero put together her WWII world with Karolina the doll and the Dollmaker. I think this is a story for all ages and it has just enough positivity to offset the realistic element of death and discrimination. This novel is very well done and I highly recommend this story to everyone! I have already posted a full review (with spoilers) and you can read that here!

Release Date: 27 September 2017

My Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.19 stars

For Class:

Parts of the Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Shakespeare plays- Othello, The Winter’s Tale, and King Lear

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Stories of the Month: November 2017

Movies

Lady Bird (2017)

Photo from IMDb

Saw this on my 21st birthday! Woohoo! I love going to see movies on my birthday because all the good ones always come out in November so it’s pretty easy to find something to see. I also love Saoirse Ronan, so I really wanted to see this when an ad popped up on YouTube for me (yeah, fine, I guess the ads work). I really enjoyed this film. Lady Bird is a coming-of-age film about a high school senior who knows what she wants to do, but doesn’t do the right things to get there. Christine, aka “Lady Bird”, rebels against her parents, tries all those things parents tell their kids not to do, but she’s just a regular girl with a dream of moving across the country for college. I wasn’t expecting this to be a comedy, but there were some very funny moments among the drama and tear-jerky moments (though it didn’t actually make me cry). I highly recommend this film, especially becuase it will probably be nominated quite a bit in the upcoming award season (gosh it’s almost that time again, where has the year gone?). It’s fantastic. Go see Lady Bird.

My Grade: A++
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (Yes, it is still at 100% from critics a whole month after the theatrical release! INSANE)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Photo from IMDb

I chose to watch this for my French class, and I actually thought it was a very interesting story. This is a bio-pic about a french man named Jean-Dominique Bauby. He was the editor of Elle magazine, but then had a stroke when he was only 43 years old that left him with locked-in syndrome, he could only control the movement of his left eye. The movie follows his life as a man stuck in a hospital, only being about to move around in a wheelchair that others push for him. His speech therapist develops a system where he can blink to spell out words and communicate with others, and he decides to use this system to write his biography. It was a crazy story, Bauby unfortunately passed away just 10 days after his memoir was published, but I found it interesting (and also easy to talk about for two minutes on a French exam). The only down side was that the movie was very long and at times it was a bit boring, but overall its a great film and I recommend watching it!

My Grade: A-
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Television

Poldark (Season 3- Masterpiece on PBS)

Photo from IMDb

This season of Poldark was SO INTENSE!! The only other person I know who watches this show is my mom and I was constantly texting her while I watched 3 hours ahead of her like “OMG tonight’s episode is so GOOD!!” We love any and all Masterpiece Classic shows, and Poldark is one of our favorites. I loved everything about season 3, the new characters, the plot (but UGH I hate George so much). Please let me know if you also watch Poldark because I’d love to chat about it :D.

Books

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings [ARC] 31394234

I was super excited when I found this book listed on the Edelwiess review copies! I requested it immediately because I had already read the first part, and I love Sasha’s YouTube videos. In my initial impressions  (posted here) of the excerpt they released as a e-book last year, I gave the book 3 stars and basically felt like the story wasn’t as strong as a lot of other YA fantasy books I’ve read. I think most of those thoughts are still valid, I enjoyed the story a lot, but I was again left feeling like the writing was clumsy at times and lacked the finesse of an experienced writer. I’m hoping that as Sasha and Lindsay continue to write this series, it will only improve! I’ll link my full review here for you, though it will contain spoilers!

Release date: 16 January 2018

My Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.01 stars

 Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz [ARC] 33602143

This book looked like a sweet story to read before Christmas time, so I requested a copy from Netgalley and was granted access to the eARC. This was definitely a quick read (I read about 70% on a 5 hour bus ride from Boston to New York City), and I was satisfied… sort of. Pretty much just to the point of knowing that I have finished it. I felt like the characters lacked real depth and development as the book progressed. The whole point is to show that Darcy is selfish and how she tries to change that (shocker: she does it for a guy), but the book ends with her realizing she was never “selfish” just very confident in herself. Ummmmm no she was a self-entitled rich woman living in extreme luxury. I guess I mostly just have a hard time sympathizing with characters that are filthy rich because I have never been rich myself, but even so, Darcy didn’t change one bit by the end of the book. Her romances were lackluster, I liked Luke and all, but the way Darcy treated him was horrible and he was so quick to forgive her even though she hadn’t really done anything to deserve him. I’m already ranting a bit so I’ll try to save some of it for a longer post.

Release Date: 17 October, 2017

My Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads Rating: 2.86 stars

What were your favorite books/movies/TV shows in November?

Katie x

Stories of the Month: October 2017

Movies

Baby Driver (2017)

Photo from IMDb

I saw this film in a small theater in Harvard Square early this month, and it was so much fun. The film was shown on film, not digital, and I actually really enjoyed that even though this is a modern film shot on high quality cameras. It felt more authentic, especially because the setting of this story was ambiguous to me. I think it was set in the present, but I feel like this story could have taken place in any year during the last few decades. I equate this movie to a film version of Grand Theft Auto, which I’m sure is already a thing, but these car chase scenes were SO impressive! I’m not usually impressed by car chase/gun heavy action films, but the perfection of the stunts combined with the musical aspect and how they were edited together… beautiful. I will say I was not a huge fan of the cast, I think it all worked really well, but just in general I’m not a huge fan of Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, or Lily James. I think Ansel Elgort’s Baby was a great and again the music was super fun and unique. Overall, I definitely really enjoyed this film, and more than I had expected!

My Grade: A-
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Before We Go (2015)

Photo from IMDb

Sweet but also a bit too sappy and cliche. Great for a relaxing Friday night. I felt like their inevitable romance could have been less awkward than it turned out to be. I didn’t like the scenes where they’d walk up to each other and just stare into each other’s eyes, way too lame. I liked that the ending left us hanging, Brooke is going back to a sticky situation. I didn’t feel like I needed a concrete ending, it’s a cliche version of real life where you meet one person one night, get to know them really well and then never see them again.

My Grade: B-
Rotten Tomatoes: 22%

The Addams Family (1991)

The Addams Family Poster
Photo from IMDb

Tis the season for Halloween films, so I was a bit surprised when this film started off with Christmas carols. I know, I know, I’m almost 21 and had never seen an Addams Family film all the way through, but guess what there are a lot of movies I’ve never seen. Hence why in my adulthood I am constantly watching movies on Netflix XD. This was a fun movie with very little real structure to the comedy. I know that the story was about Fester (a fake) being returned to his family after going AWOL for years, but then the impostor decides he likes this family of kooks. I loved Wednesday’s depressing one-liners and I recognized a few faces in the cast. Overall an enjoyable experience and it definitely helped me get into a more festive Halloween mood.

My Grade: B
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%

 

Television

Friends From College Season 1 (Netflix Original Series)

Photo from IMDb

This show both surprised and frustrated me. I went in with little knowledge of what to expect aside from seeing who was in the cast, which led me to expect that the show would be prominently comedic. This was actually not the case though, these 6 characters go through a complicated journey of affairs and fertility problems, and I found myself internally fighting to figure out who I sympathized with. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say the ending was very open ended and not satisfactory at all for me based on one person still harboring a GIANT secret at the end. I do hope there is a second season to continue this crazy story and I recommend it if you like these actors and romance/comedy, drama type shows. It’s a lot of different things all in one, but I think most of it worked for me.

My Grade: B-
Rotten Tomatoes: 23% from critic reviews (73% from audience reviews)

Stranger Things Season 2 (Netflix Original Series)

I was SO excited for this new season and I genuine;y think it lived up to the hype. I spent pretty much all day last Friday watching 7 of the 9 episodes (only taking a break to go see Pilobolus perform in Boston) and then finished the last two episodes on Saturday. I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t finished this new season yet, but the basic plot is that one year later, Will is back from the Upside Down but the events of the previous year are still with him. Creatures from the Upside Down are invading the rel world and need to be stopped once again by the gang. I thought the plot of this season could have been a bit sharper, but I was happy with the end result. I loved the new characters, Max and Bob, they were just the right amount of skeptical and brave and I thought they were great additions to the cast. There were times when a new character was introduced (and there are quite a few new characters) and it took a while for them to actually be involved in the story line. However, I think this season was a great followup to the first, still very successful, and I look forward to seeing more.

My Grade: A+
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Other

90 Day Fiancee, Riverdale, Poldark, This is Us, Gilmore Girls (re-watching in order, but only a few episodes at a time)

Books

 

Wow, what a flop. I haven’t finished a single non-class-related book this month. I’ll put that up to the fact that I was very ambitious and chose to start Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings this month on e-book through Edelweiss. I will be finishing it hopefully in the next couple of weeks but October was such a busy month for class that I haven’t had enough down time to read this book (aside from the fact that fantasy books are always longer than other novels).

18490
Photo from Goodreads

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I read this earlier this month for one of my literature classes (shocker) and I actually liked the book much more than I had expected to. I was intrigued by the story in so much as it conflicted with my preconceived notions about Frankenstein. If you saw my post from last month, I talked about watching Victor Frankenstein (2016) which focuses a lot of its substance on the backstory of Igor. Fun fact, Igor doesn’t exist in the book. He’s completely made up by the early filmmakers who brought Frankenstein to the silver screen. I found that really surprising, but it does seem a bit far-fetched that Victor would have created the creature all on his own so I suppose logically they were just trying to make the story more believable for the audience. Anyways, this was a super fitting book to read in October and I highly recommend reading this story!

My Rating: 4 Stars (not gonna lie its a bit boring at times but what isn’t?)
Goodreads Rating: 3.75 Stars

Other titles read for class this month:
Henry IV parts 1 & 2, As You Like It, and the Sonnets by William Shakespeare; Lysistrata by Aristophanes; The Lives of Animals by J. M. Coetzee; selected passages from the Bible

Miscellaneous

Fun Home the Musical

This was a last minute opportunity that came up mid-month. My professor told us that we had a chance to see Fun Home for free the next night and I just had to jump on the opportunity! This girl does not pass up a chance to see a Broadway musical for free. Since we had read the book last month in class, I was even more excited to see the musical because I very much enjoyed the tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. The show was fun and emotional, the scenes where young Alison and her brothers were singing together were my favorite, so cute. For the record, our seats were about as far back as we could get in the theater, but it was still an amazing experience. I highly recommend reading Fun Home and seeing the musical if you can!

Stories of the Month: September 2017

Movies

Victor Frankenstein (2015)

I’ll be honest, I only recorded this movie on my DVR because I knew that Daniel Radcliffe was in it. I always like to watch his films because he’s a very good actor who’s capable of being someone that’s not Harry Potter. That said, pretty much everything Daniel Radcliffe has been in since Harry Potter has gotten very bad reviews. I really like this cast individually. I like Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), and Andrew Scott (Sherlock) so I was enjoying them in each of their roles. I also really liked the back story of Igor being a medical genius that was stunted by his “deformity” and forced to live a life in the circus. I really liked the chase scene when Dr. Frankenstein was getting Igor out of the circus, it was well shot and fun to follow. Igor’s love interest with Lorelei was also nice because that’s unusual, I think, in a Frankenstein film. Typically the mutant is simply the mutant, but this film took Igor’s deformity away from him early in the story. This gave Igor a chance to become more than the crippled lackey that would typically be present in a film like this. That said, the plot went a bit stale for me. I liked the beginning but then got pretty bored by the main story line that had obviously turned into the common versions of Frankenstein that everyone already knows.

My Grade: C
Rotten Tomatoes: 24%

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)

I had heard some buzz surrounding this film when it came out last year, but I only just recently recorded it on my DVR. I was looking forward to it because I am a fan of Andy Samberg from SNL/Lonely Island and Brooklyn Nine-Nine so I knew that if nothing else, this movie would be funny. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments. I watched this one while packing to go back to college, but I didn’t need to pay attention too closely so it was a nice chilled-out experience overall. I definitely recommend that SNL and Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans check this one out because there are tons of cameos from all kinds of celebrities, some I expected and others came out of nowhere and were fun to see! Last note is that this actually has a really high Rotten Tomatoes score which also took me by surprise.

My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

To the Bone (2017)

This is a film about the struggle to recover from severe eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (there are others but those are the most well-known since they are usually covered in health classes). The unique aspect that this film holds over perhaps many other films involving eating disorders, is that both the director and main actress have struggled with eating disorders. There is a disclaimer at the start of the film that sensitive topics are involved, which is always a good idea. Moving on from the technicalities, I thought this film was very well done cinematically and emotionally. The message being spread is not a glorification of eating disorders but that help can only be accepted when help is wanted and that it takes a while for a person to accept that they need to get help. This film uses the aspect of family to show the effects an eating disorder has on loved ones as well as the sufferer. Lily Collins, who has opened up about previously having an eating disorder, really got into this role by actually losing weight (safely) to create the right image of her character for the film. Personally, I think that’s a very brave choice and one that she could only have made if she had fully recovered from her past eating disorder. Overall, I found this film inspiring and beautiful and I think it’s a great addition to the Netflix Orginal collection.

My Grade: A-
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%

 

Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

I’ve wanted to watch this film for SO LONG. Therefore, I finally watched this classic and I loved every second. I actually (probably surprisingly) had no clue how dark this film’s plot was. I was not expecting the suicide and that probably sounds so dumb because who doesn’t know this film, but I had never seen it or had anyone explain the plot to me before. The only reference I knew going in was that the phrase “Oh captain my captain” was popularized by this movie. I feel much better about myself knowing that I have watched this movie now. That is all.

My Grade
Rotten Tomatoes

Other:

L’auberge Espagnole (2002)

Lame. Do not recommend.

Rating: D

Television

I didn’t watch a ton of drama shows this month, that was a big thing this summer, but I just don’t have as much time to watch tv while at school so it will probably be this way for the next couple of months. Plus, most Fall shows don’t start until late September/mid-October, so this month has been a lull for new stuff. I’m going to fill this space by giving a quick opinion on the winners of my two favorite summer reality TV competition shows:

Big Brother Season 19

I have been watching this show for at least half of my life at this point, probably more than half, and I still love it. I am a big fan of Paul so I was disappointed that the jury votes came down to Cody’s final vindictive vote. I think Paul played very well this season and while he may have stabbed people in the back, I had hoped the jury would have seen that his masterminded game-play far surpassed anything Josh did all season. I won’t drone on any longer but Paul should have won and I am dreading Jody’s imminent trip around the world on the next season of Amazing Race *barf*

So You Think You Can Dance Season

I have been watching this show since season one when I was about 8 or 9 years old. It was, of course, my childhood dance dream to be on this show but alas I’m not pursuing a dance career so intense and just am not at that point. Tangents aside, I was rooting for Le all season, although Koine was a worthy runner up. They are both amazing dancers, but I am very happy with the way the finale ended. I can always count on America to be on the same page when voting for contestants on SYTYCD (unlike some other shows *cough cough AGT cough cough*)

Books

27272506The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1) by Richelle Mead

LOVED IT. I have had this book on my TBR list since I bought it but I finally got around to starting it at the end of the summer. Then I took my sweet time reading because I have a hard copy and rarely have time to read fun hard copies with all my school reading. I am so glad I spent last Friday night powering through the last 50 pages. I had been skeptical about the idea of reading a series that followed three characters but followed the same timeline for all three books. I thought that sounded stupid and boring, but the way Richelle has written holes into Tamsin and Mira’s plot lines has me kicking myself for ever doubting my favorite author’s skills! I can’t wait to get Midnight Jewel and read Mira’s story. Full review to come!

My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.44 Stars

29343886Hungry For Love by Lucy Beresford

I read this book as an e-ARC kindly provided by Netgalley. I thought this novel was sweet and entertaining. It would have been a fun summer read if I had read it in the summer but I did not. I’ll have a full review up sometime soon!

UK release date:
US release date:

My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.83 Stars

26135825 Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Just for the record, I won’t be putting up a full review for any class-assigned readings, and there will be a ton of those this year since I am studying English! I really enjoyed reading this story. We’ve really dissected a large amount of the allusions and details used in Bechdel’s graphic memoir, but it’s an overall great read. I was fascinated by Alison’s story and the way she weaved it together with the story pf her father. I had heard about this book previously only in reference to the Broadway hit musical that opened in 2013, but I didn’t know anything about the book itself. I highly recommend giving this a read, even if you aren’t being forced to by a professor.

My Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.12 Stars

Other titles read for class this month:
Titus Andronicus, “Venus and Adonis,” and “Lucrece” by William Shakespeare
The Iliad and The Odyssey (just parts of them) by Homer