Show Review: Outer Banks (2020) & Somewhere Between (2017)

For anyone missing Friday Night Lights (2006) or The OC (2003), allow me to direct you to Outer Banks (2020). It has that older style of camera work, too. That very quiet style. I don’t even know how to describe it. The colours are muted, there’s no CGI, everything looks normal. I really like it. The style is super relaxed. Fitting, as the show starts out in a chill seaside town. IT’S. SO. PRETTY.

The storyline follows ‘the Pogues’, a group of boys and one girl after they learn about a sunken treasure ship and try to find both the gold and the missing father of the main guy, John B. The Pogues are at odds with the rich kids of the island and spend their time on the water or working. The hunt for gold and John B’s father brings everyone together – or pushes them even further apart.

The friendships really make the show for me. JJ was my favourite of the characters. He’s incredibly loyal to John B, Pope and Kie. Sarah, the rich girl who ends up befriending John B and getting closer to all of them, grew on me throughout the series as well. And Pope and Kie were both great. Overall, the friendships are what solidified my love for this show and the ending to season one was awesome! It’s been renewed for a second season and I’m excited to see where it goes.

The other show I want to recommend is Somewhere Between. OH. MY. GOSH. It’s based on a Korean drama I haven’t seen (but now I must!), 신의 선물 – 14일 (2014). And apparently it’s the first American show to adapt a Kdrama?! What?! The first?! This is one where it’s sooooo hard not to look up the ending and spoil yourself. I am so happy I gave this one a chance, though! Devon Sawa has been one of my favourite actors since I was a kid and watched Wild America (1997) twenty-five times a year. (Maybe an exaggeration. Maybe.) He was also in Nikita (2010), which was such an underrated gem!

[You can’t really talk about this show without spoiling some things, so SPOILER ALERT for the first episode, mostly. Minor spoilers for second episode. Trigger warning for mention of character death and character suicide attempt.]

This one is very intricate and intense. The plot centres around Laura, Nico and Tom. Tom is the District Attorney, Nico is a former cop with a brother on death row, and Laura is Tom’s loving wife and mother of their daughter Serena. In the first episode, Serena befriends Ruby, Nico’s niece, while Nico’s mum begs Laura to get her husband to re-examine Danny’s case (the brother on death row). The mum is convinced of his innocence, but it was Nico who testified against him as the victim he’s been accused of killing was Nico’s girlfriend). The talk doesn’t prove successful, but Serena and Ruby become good friends.

Nights later, as Nico’s family falls apart, Serena is kidnapped. Tom and Laura do everything they can to find her, but fail. Nico learns about Serena’s death on the news – the same moment he learns that her death is being used to re-open the death penalty in their area and that his brother is going to be executed shortly. [The first episode is really grim, but if you hang in there, there’s a twist coming.]

The day Danny’s to be executed, Laura attempts suicide at the exact same time, and Nico is jumped by a gang and thrown off a dock – also at the same time. He sees Laura in the water and manages to cut himself free and drag her to shore, but he’s heartbroken to realise that he missed his brother’s execution. Both go home distraught.

Yet when Laura returns home, she finds Serena and Tom waiting for her. WAIT, WHAT?! Yep. It’s three months in the past, Serena is alive, Danny is alive, and everything is playing out exactly the same way as before. The only two people who know what’s going to happen – or rather, who remember what happened the first time – are Laura and Nico. The pair decide to team up to save both Serena and Danny. AND THAT’S ONLY THE START OF EPISODE TWO.

I won’t say any more, but trust me, this one is definitely worth your time! It starts out really grim, but it becomes more action/mystery after episode one.

Short Film Review: Query (2020)

I stumbled upon this film randomly, but it makes for a really good short watch (I believe it’s less than ten minutes!). It kind of follows a similar format to the Before Trilogy, with two people walking around and talking the entire time. This one centres around two friends, Jay and Alex, as they discuss the ins and outs of sexuality and how they know for sure that they’re heterosexual. They go back and forth on the matter, open-minded and bantering. I think the film could’ve used just a few more minutes of dialogue and maybe a few more topics and twists, but it works well as is. Definitely worth a watch!

Show Review: A Discovery of Witches (season two, 2021), Deadwind (2018), Little Fires Everywhere (2020)

It’s been a week of new awesome shows and I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of them.

A Discovery of Witches season two is here at last! I absolutely adored season one and have been waiting impatiently for season two ever since finishing it. (My review of the show; my review of the book.) Season two sees Diana and Matthew time-travelling to 1590 where they find themselves involved with Christopher Marlow, Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh and more! I’m absolutely in love with the costumes – and of course Diana and Matthew have more chemistry than I could have possibly imagined. Watch it!

Deadwind aka Karppi is a Finnish crime drama. I love Nordic noir and this one is another brilliant addition. (Although few compare to Zone Blanche and Øyevitne). This one follows recently widowed detective Sofia Karppi and her new partner Sakari Nurmi after they find a body on a planned building site. The investigation isn’t as gripping for me as Øyevitne and Zone Blanche, but what I love about this one is the focus on the characters and their lives and development. Karppi and Nurmi have such a great progression from hating each other to tolerating each other to becoming friends, and I can’t wait to see how season one wraps up!

Little Fires Everywhere is another one I’ve just started. I haven’t read the book it’s based on, but I will watch pretty much anything with Reese Witherspoon and/or Joshua Jackson! My favs! Unfortunately, I’m really struggling to like the characters in this one. At least the main characters. Their kids are all great, but the adults are just so frustrating! I feel like that’s the point, but it’s definitely a struggle not screaming at my television when they get annoying. That said, the plot is enthralling, so I’m watching on.

What’s everyone else watching?

The Outlands Pentalogy – new covers!

I’m absolutely delighted to unveil the new covers for The Outlands Pentalogy. My dear friend Heather made them (she’s a wonderful designer, for anyone looking for a book cover!). These books are dystopian/science fiction, with a dash of romance!

Behold:

The book’s map is here, for anyone curious! Add on Goodreads.

New Cover Reveal: Dust & Lightning (2020)

My sci-fi/dystopian novella Dust & Lightning just got a new cover! I’m so delighted with it!

Synopsis:

In the near future, humans have gone beyond simple space travel. By the year 4054, multiple solar systems are inhabited, and taking a spaceship is as commonplace as taking an aeroplane.

Unfortunately, not everything about the future is so advanced. The central planets, led by Earth, have risen high at the expense of cheap labour on distant worlds. Dissent is widespread and arrests are common. Sometimes prisoners are released; sometimes they disappear without a trace, sent to labour camps in other solar systems.

When Ames Emerys receives a letter telling him that his brother Callum has died en route to the remote planet of Kilnin, he takes the first ship he can off Earth, desperate for answers. But the secrets Ames uncovers prove far more dangerous than he could have imagined.

And trouble isn’t far behind.

Add it on Goodreads!

Review Round Up

New year, new reads, new shows.

I started off the new year by reading a few comic books and finishing Sylvester by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Richard Armitage. I’ve been having a hard time focusing on longer reads at the minute, simply because I have so much to do, so short reads and audibooks are very helpful right now.

I really enjoyed Oddly Normal, which has adorable illustrations and a fairly sad storyline; Die!Die!Die! was intriguing. It’s by the same author as The Walking Dead and has gruesome opener, but looks to be really interesting. I’m curious to see where it goes! Has anyone read any of these?

I also started two new TV series: Young Wallander and The Alienist. I adored them both and cannot recommend The Alienist enough. Dakota Fanning, Luke Evans and Daniel Brühl make a fantastic trio! The mystery is intense and fairly un-guessable, which is something I’ve been waiting for. The costumes are gorgeous as well. Everything about the show is well done, honestly. If you enjoy dark mysteries, this one is enthralling.

Young Wallander is based a Swedish book series and was brilliantly done. I love the whole cast and thought it ended well. It has a second series coming, I believe, so the few things that weren’t wrapped up I’m assuming will be addressed in the coming season.

Audiobook Recommendations

I have listened to some lovely audiobooks over the break and thought I’d share a few recommendations for those who enjoy listening to stories as much as reading them! (These reviews are also cross-posted to Goodreads*).

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (1922), narrated by Richard Armitage. So utterly lovely! Cannot recommend enough.

The Collectors by Philip Pullman (2015), narrated by Bill Nighy. Bill Nighy could narrate dry socks and they would be interesting – thankfully, Philip Pullman is also a brilliant storyteller, and thus we have a perfect match. ♡

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1911), narrated by Lily Collins. I haven’t ever read this one before, despite seeing a few of the adaptations, but Lily Collins is a superb narrator. Nana and Peter remain my favourites.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel (1989), narrated by Gildart Jackson. What a great Hanukkah tale! ♡

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843), narrated by Hugh Grant. I’ve never actually sat down to read this one, but listening to Hugh Grant do the audiobook was a great first way to hear it! He’s an excellent narrator, the story is quite good, and I’m definitely keen to get to more Dickens now. 

Billy and the Minpins by Roald Dahl (1991), narrated by Bill Bailey. I hadn’t come across this one as a kid, which is odd because Matilda and The Witches and The Twits are some of my most memorable childhood books/films, but this one is super cute.

The Truth About Owls by Amal El-Mohtar (2015), recorded on the Strange Horizons podcast. I’ve heard so much about This Is How You Lose the Time War, but alas I haven’t had the chance to read it yet. This novella really made me want to bump it up my reading list, though! If you want to read/listen to this book, go here

2020: End of Year Favs

Note: This is for things I read/watched this year and has nothing to do when they were actually released. I read so many short stories this year, which was lovely, but not as many full length novels, alas, so that list is a bit short. For the shows and films, I’ve starred the recs, but honestly the stars are more of a YAAAAAAS flail. My five star ones are those that had a ridiculously amazing romance (my jam!) or had me on the edge of my seat the entire time (also my jam!). And, as I’m sure there are some gems I’ve forgotten, this is likely not a complete list. See also my honourable mentions for all those ones that are wonderful but I haven’t reviewed yet. ♡

top television;

  1. Le Bazar de la Charité [2019] french, romance, costume drama | ‎★‎★‎★‎★‎★ | that romance those costumes just everything
  2. Zoo [2015] english, action, science fiction | ‎★‎★‎★‎★ | oh my gosh, animals and tension
  3. Zone Blanche [2017] french, noir, crime, fantasy | ‎★‎★‎★‎★½ | so spooky, so good
  4. Øyevitne [2014] norwegian, crime, lgbt+ | ★★★★★ | couldn’t relax, couldn’t look away
  5. Suspicious Partner [2017] korean, courtroom drama, romance | ★★★★½ | adorbs, fab, whoa
  6. When the Camellia Blooms [2019] korean, crime, mystery, romance | ★★★★ | awww romance and aaahhhh evil villain
  7. Crash Landing on You [2019] korean, drama, romance | ★★★★★ | THEIR LOVE LASTS FOREVAAAA
  8. Anne with an E [2017] english, costume drama | ★★★★★ | adorable frankly
  9. Peaky Blinders [2013] english, drama, crime | ★★★★½ | dude holy crap
  10. Made in Heaven [2019] hindi, drama, romance | ★★★★ | right in the feels
  11. The Exorcist [2016] english, drama, paranormal, horror | ★★★★½ | why is there not a season three, whyyyyy
  12. Godless [2017] english, western, drama, lgbt+ | ★★★★½ | perfection
  13. Schitt’s Creek [2015] english, sitcom, lgbt+ | ★★★★ | um, like, adorable
  14. The Last Kingdom [2015] english, costume drama, action | ★★★★½ | yaaaas, boy-o (I still need to write a review for this one, but it’s fantastic!)
  15. Cursed [2020] english, costume drama, fantasy | ★★★★ | when you’re feeling bad for e’erybody
  16. The Umbrella Academy [2019] english, superheroes, lgbt+ | ★★★★½ | can we get a little love up in here?
  17. Snowpiercer [2020] english, dystopian, thriller | ★★★★½ | whoa
  18. The Man in the High Castle [2015] english, dystopian, costume drama, alternate history | ★★★★ | what. the. fuck.
  19. The K2 [2016] korean, action, romance | ★★★★★ | I will never get over this couple. NEVER.
  20. Because This Is My First Life [2017] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★ | d’aww, you guys
  21. Don’t Dare to Dream [2016] korean, contemporary, romance |  ★★★★★ | the storyline, the ending 
  22. Beautiful Gong Shim [2016] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★ | I want to draw hearts around them
  23. Romance is a Bonus Book [2019] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★★ | it’s like if snow and cotton candy made a show
  24. Where Your Eyes Linger [2020] korean, lgbt+, drama | ★★★★★ | BODYGUARD. ANGST. ENOUGH SAID.
  25. Manifest [2018] english, drama, mystery, fantasy | ★★★★★ | ThIS mYSTery IS isANE
  26. A Discovery of Witches [2018] english, fantasy, romance| ★★★★★ | Everything I ever wanted from a vampire and witch show.
  27. Daredevil [2015] english, superhero, courtroom drama | ★★★★★ | I AM BITTER THIS WAS CANCELLED.

top books;

  1. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry | lgbt+, historical fiction, audiobook
  2. Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski | lgbt+, romance, fiction, audiobook
  3. Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope by Megan Phelps-Roper | nonfiction, religion
  4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery | classics, fiction, audiobook
  5. What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel | contemporary, feminism
  6. The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin | short story, dystopian, classics
  7. The Last Romeo by Justin Myers | lgbt+, romance, contemporary, audiobook
  8. The Magnificent Sons by Justin Myers | lgbt+, contemporary, coming-of-age, audiobook
  9. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah | memoir, nonfiction, autobiography
  10. Release by Patrick Ness | lgbt+, fantasy, contemporary
  11. Lie With Me by Philippe Besson | lgbt+, historical fiction

top films;

  1. Mortal Engines [2018] english, dystopian, steampunk
  2. Jonas [2018] french, lgbt+, drama
  3. Lady Bird [2017] english, indie, coming of age
  4. Mudbound [2017] english, costume drama, drama
  5. The Old Guard [2020] english, action, lgbt+
  6. Official Secrets [2019] english, docudrama, politics
  7. Venom [2018] english, superhero, action
  8. Knock Down the House [2019] english, documentary, politics
  9. The Great Hack [2019] english, documentary, politics
  10. #Alive [2020] korean, action, zombies
  11. Onward [2020] english, animated, fantasy
  12. The Trial of the Chicago 7 [2020] historical, drama, politics

poems;

  1. ‘Found Discarded: A Love Poem, Questionably Addressed’ by Cassandra Khaw | read here.
  2. ‘things you don’t say to city witches’ by Cassandra Khaw | read here.
  3. Ali Trotta, ‘Athena Holds Up a Mirror to Strength’ | read here.
  4. ‘For Our Country’ by Shahein Farahani | review here | read here.

top short stories;

  1. Lines of Growth, Lines of Passage by Marissa Lingen | Available here.
  2. We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories by C. Robert Cargill 
  3. The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo
  4. Eyes I Dare Not Meet in Dreams by Sunny Moraine
  5. A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow
  6. The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander
  7. The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging by Harry Turtledove
  8. Five Arrows by Heinz Insu Fenkl
  9. Ring the Bell by Josie Jaffrey

top comics;

  1. Liebestrasse by Greg Lockard, art by Tim Fish
  2. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Honourable Mentions of 2020

I feel like there are so many films, books and shows that I wanted to review this year that I haven’t got around to for some reason or other. (Re: laziness). Oh well! I’m listing some of the ones I can remember below (and I’m sure there’s still others I’ve forgotten).

Shows: Summertime was a great show, for anyone looking for a warm and sunny show with cute romances. Set in Italy, diverse cast/rep. Curon is another good Italian show! I haven’t finished it, but the start is super strong. The Last Kingdom is soooooo amazing. I don’t know why I haven’t written up a review for this epic beauty, but it totally deserves one. Another Life is a great sci-fi adventure, with lots of diversity/rep and a solid plot. Got sci-fi queen Katee Sackhoff in it, too. Score! The Mandalorian is so absolutely brilliant, my Star Wars heart is a flutter. The Mess You Leave Behind is a fantastic Spanish murder mystery show. If you loved Élite, you’ll love this one. And Arón Piper is in it! Mismatched is the Hindi adaptation of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I bought the book a while back and haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m definitely moving it up my list! This is a super cute romantic comedy series set in Jaipur and I can’t wait to finish it. The Great was fun as well, and I really liked the cast. I also just started Bridgerton, which I’m enjoying!

Films: The new Little Women was super cute. I didn’t love it quite as much as the Winona Ryder version, but the cast is fantastic, and I liked some of the changes. I think this one would have been great as a miniseries, actually. Spending more time exploring the romance and building up to the end would have been good, I reckon, as that seemed more the focus in this version, whereas the 1990s version was more focused on the growing up aspect, I felt. I caught up on most of the Marvel movies this year and really liked some of the latest ones. The new Spiderman is great, and I’m excited for Natalie Portman’s return to Thor in the next one. I’m also intrigued by the shows coming to Disney+! I really like the idea of WandaVision. I liked Solo, the Han Solo standalone for Star Wars. All the standalones have been pretty good, actually. Happiest Season is a new Christmas film with Kristen Stewart, I have a lot of thoughts on it. Did anyone else see this one? I also can’t even begin to review Hotel Mumbai, which was a truly heart-shattering watch and the actors were amazing in their roles. I think, rather than writing a review, this look at the true story behind the film is worth a read.

Books: I write a lot of mini reviews on Goodreads that I don’t bother linking here. But my page is here, for anyone curious. All of the nonfiction books I’ve picked up this year deserve their own review. Guns, an essay by Stephen King, was very poignant and thoughtful. But having the time, or even figuring out how to describe them is so hard sometimes on top of studying. Some recommendations for anyone looking to delve into more non-fiction: The Korean War at Sixty: New Approaches to the Study of the Korean War; A Violent Peace: Race, U.S. Militarism, and Cultures of Democratization in Cold War Asia and the Pacific; Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War; Sex Among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.-Korea Relations; Framed by War: Korean Children and Women at the Crossroads of Us Empire; Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World; Name, Rank, and Serial Number: Exploiting Korean War POWs at Home and Abroad.

Show Review: The Poison Tree (2012)

I love finding hidden gems! I’d never even heard of The Poison Tree until last night and I watched both episodes back to back. What a good find! It has Matthew Goode, MyAnna Buring and Ophelia Lovibond and tells the story of a married couple after the husband is released from prison. The husband did time for a double murder, but the wife is convinced he’s a good guy, and we’re slowly told their story through flashbacks.

[spoilers-ish]

The pair, Rex and Karen, met through Biba, Rex’s sister. They’re all something of free spirits, living hedonist lives in the family mansion, living off their father’s money. Biba brings Karen in and the pair fall into a rather obsessive friendship; its obsessiveness is matched by Rex and Biba’s siblinghood, which consumes them both. But it’s torn to shreds when Rex and Karen begin dating. They keep their relationship from Biba for a time, and when she finds out, everything falls apart. To get back at them, Biba starts dating a drug dealer that neither Rex nor Karen approve of and everything quickly unravels.

The story flashes between the past and the present, and at first you don’t know what happened to Biba and who Rex supposedly killed, but in the present, Karen starts getting creepy messages, pictures and break-ins that all seem pointed at uncovering their secrets and ruining the new life they’re making for themselves.

I was honestly not expecting some of the twists in this and was kept in rapt attention. The actors were all great and this is definitely worth a go for mystery/suspense fans.