If you read the first part to this March In Review post I can only congratulate you for being such a caring person that you read my inane and self-absorbed chatter about my very insignificant life, or else I’ll become suspicious that you are procrastinating writing an essay or studying and merely using my blog as a way to do that. Even so, go right ahead. Hopefully this post is a bit more interesting (???) and marginally more fun. No real life crises to be found here, just a jumble of thoughts about the books, tv shows, films, and music I experienced in March 2015.
THE THINGS I PUT INTO MY EYES AND EARS
My academic section of this review was quite long, which likewise means the ‘Things I Put Into My Eyes and Ears’ section is likely about to be long. And yes, that title is merely because I didn’t want to use the word ‘Entertainment’. Basically all the books, films, tv shows, songs, web series, whatever, I enjoyed experiencing with my sensory organs. What fun.
First the books. I read a total of 5 books this month which… isn’t too great considering that 3 of those are graphic novels which took about 30 minutes each to read. What can I say, this month has been a whole lot of moments of ‘where has my time gone?’ and ‘why wasn’t I reading?’ Having said that, I dipped my toes back into the strange and murky waters of graphic novels and picked up Chew which a lot of Booktubers have been talking about. I think I first saw this on Emily Jean‘s channel but quickly practically everyone I subscribe to has now picked up this series. Unfortunately my library only had the first 3 volumes but I thoroughly enjoyed them all. I constantly come back to this description but it’s basically like police procedural meets Pushing Daisies meets Hannibal but in graphic novel form. Very gruesome, very entertaining.
Elsewhere, I also read Gail Carriger’s Soulless which is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series. This was… fun, as I said in my brief review. Set in a Victorian steampunk London, it follows the protagonist Alexia Tarabotti who is soulless, essentially meaning that if she touches a supernatural creature their powers are normalised for as long as that contact is maintained. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, are all just part of everyday life in this world in a really refreshing way that felt novel to me and was actually one of the things I really loved. Vampires were still vampires, werewolves were still werewolves, and yet these clans were part of government and the world-building Carriger did felt quite believable on the social-political side of things. An impressive feat considering she’s juggling steampunk, Victorian, romance, supernatural, sassy-protagonist genres and tropes in this novel.
I had a couple of minor niggles with Soulless which can be completely ignored for the sake of what fun this book is. But for the sake of honesty… I don’t like it when something feels too over-done and too self-concious and there were a few moments in this book where the characters said sentences that were just… not realistic. Simply put, they felt like what people think stiff upper lip Englishmen would say. And that’s not to say that only English novelists have the monotony on writing English characters, obviously not, but it felt akin to that horrible moment in a US rom com when the dashing ‘British guy’ murmurs ‘Bollocks!’ in his crisp, Received Pronunciation accent. It doesn’t entirely ring true and whilst I know some suspension of disbelief is always made in these scenarios (hell give me Colin Firth bumbling that he likes someone ‘just as you are’ any day) and yes I am aware that I am being pedantic about speech patterns in a book which contains vampires and werewolves and ghosts… I don’t know, it’s a bug bear. But, as I said, once I let go and just went along with the slight Mary Sue-ish moments and the conveniently broad and gruff yet sweet Scottish rogue that was Lord Maccon, it was indeed jolly good fun.
I also read The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling, the hype surrounding which has completely died out so it’s a great time to pick it up with very little preconception about what to expect. I said pretty much everything I had to say in my review on Goodreads but I really liked this. Once again Rowling shows her skill in writing convincingly a cast of characters with family and personal relationships that are convoluted and complex and brilliantly plotted. I watched the recent BBC series of this too and really liked it. I thought Rory Kinnear was a great choice for Barry, Keeley Hawes was hilarious and weirdly loveable, and Michael Gambon as Howard was utterly disgusting, which is kind of the point. I liked the cuts they made to some of the characters and the changes they made with Barry’s relationship to Krystal, even if I did miss the rowing element of the entire thing. Also, the cinematography was superb and gorgeous – I expected nothing less.
TV SHOWS (AKA NETFLIX IS RUINING MY LIFE)
Now moving on to visual things. Netflix has had the unfortunate habit of managing to schedule the release of shows just before I have important essay deadlines. March has been no exception with the arrival of Once Upon A Time. After some stubbornly silly uncertainty over whether I was actually enjoying watching this, I found myself at episode 12 of the first season and that’s when I couldn’t deny that on some level I must be really invested in this show. I’ve just finished season 1 and have no doubt that I will be swiftly devouring the following seasons in the month(s) to come. Favourite characters at the moment (though it changes with each stupid decision one of them makes in any given episode) are Regina (what? I know), Belle (just a feeling I have), Red, and Rumple/Gold (apparently I like my morally ambiguous ‘bad guys’). Also on an aesthetic level, a shout out must be given to August’s pretty eyes and hair (and general face tbh) and, of course, to Emma’s ridiculously perfect golden locks. Ugh.
Then came the gem that is Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Weird, wonderful, quirky, genuinely hilarious, I love this show with every fibre of my being. I don’t think I can adequately sum up its plot or its appeal but for those who have seen it I’m sure you’ll now understand that feeling of being casually out and about, or maybe even at work, when suddenly in your head you just heard Pinoooooooooot NOoooooir. It’s mildly distracting. And I may have found myself in spare moments suddenly chanting “unbreakable, they alive damn it” and “females are STRONG AS HELL” which isn’t a terrible message to take away but does tend to raise eyebrows of the uninitiated.
One Amazon Prime membership renewal later and I am now fairly convinced that Amazon has conspired with Netflix to plot the inevitable decay of my academic life by holding the rights to Vikings. I’ve only watched 2 episodes of so far but I very quickly fell in love with. I think I can pinpoint that moment of falling at the first time the titles rolled. What can I say, I’m a complete sucker for pretty graphics and I am more than sure that April will bring me devouring the first and second seasons.
Speaking of, just as I type this, an email has popped up in my inbox announcing the release of Orphan Black season 2 on Netflix. Seriously now, this isn’t even funny any more. Bye, bye, good grades, it was nice knowing you.
In case anyone was ever in any doubt, all I’ve been listening to solidly for the past few months (aside from Blank Space because Blank Space) is Hozier’s self-titled debut album. Because Hozier. That should be enough to explain but if it’s not, this live performance of Work Song should do it. The songs I consistently come back to are Jackie and Wilson, Someone New, and Like Real People Do, and in case covers are your vibe they did a great one of Ariana Grande’s Problem and Arctic Monkeys’ Do I Wanna Know? so you should definitely listen to those too.
And for some random songs I’ve developed a strange liking for in March, the only two that spring to mind are The Vaccines’ Handsome and Lissie’s cover of Nothing Else Matters. Very very different beasts, each equally excellent depending on your mood.
OTHER AKA STUFF I FOUND ON TUMBLR
I have a tag on tumblr – reserved for mostly cat vines, if I’m honest – entitled ‘dead of cute’ that encompasses all manner of cute gifs and videos. Occasionally when I’m feeling sad I dip into it because everyone needs to see a sleepy cat nodding off and I’m not at all ashamed to admit that. And sometimes you need to see a tiny kitten annoying a very very patient and chilled St Bernard, trust me on this.
And likewise, sometimes, you just need to see a cute Spanish boyband sing in a car, a video that is much better than the official one for the song. I can’t explain it, but it made me smile in March so here it is.
And thankfully, I think that’s just about everything I shoved into my ears and/or eyes in March. Phew. It’s been mostly a month of avoiding academic work by watching TV shows and reading books in odd sudden and inexplicable binges. I’m hoping to try to rein myself back in in April since I have 2 essay deadlines and those 10,000 words won’t write themselves (more’s the pity) but we’ll see. For now, what things did you cram into your eyes and ears, anything I should know about?