Angry Scottish Rants: Broadchurch Season 3

A couple of years ago, I watched the first season of Broadchurch and have honestly been raving about it ever since then. The third—and, unfortunately, final—season concluded this past weekend, and I’m an emotional wreck.

First of all, how the heck is this show so good??? The writing is brilliant!!! The acting is phenomenal!!! The characters are so developed!!! There are plot twists EVERYWHERE—just when you think you’ve figured it out, something else happens, and you end up questioning everything you (think you) know.

You know what’s bothering me about this case? It’s making me ashamed to be a man.
— Alec Hardy

In case you didn’t know, the first two seasons dealt with the murder of a young boy and the subsequent trial. This season, however, takes the show in a different direction as DI Alec Hardy (my boy David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (my girl-crush Olivia Colman) investigate a rape. It’s not a light-hearted subject and they treat it with the appropriate amount of gravitas: in fact, everything from the first moment the victim makes a report to the moment they catch the perpetrator is handled as realistically as possible. And, most importantly, they treat the victim with respect: they believe her, and they mention, more than once, that it’s NOT her fault. It’s so important that they show that kind of support, and I love that their social media accounts have also been pushing links to support/crisis groups.

Typical. A woman gets attacked and all the men go around battering horns, making it about them.
— Ellie Miller

Each of the eight episodes see the detectives talking to possible suspects and reviewing evidence, but we also see how the victim—Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh)—copes with the aftermath, including her reluctance to relive the experience, even when she knows it will help the investigation, and confronting the numerous men who could have been behind the attack. By the fourth episode, just as you start to narrow down your list of suspects, another plot point is introduced and it throws you for a loop (let’s just say Trish isn’t the only victim).

Alec: Can I ask you a question, Miller?
Ellie: ‘Course.
Alec: How long have they been calling me shitface?
Ellie: Since you first arrived.
Alec: Really?
Ellie: Yeah.

As I mentioned after watching the first season, the show is super clever: there’s almost no way to predict how it’s all going to be resolved, but they make sure they don’t leave you with any burning questions. The first season ending was an absolute shocker, and this third season still managed to surprise me in the last twenty minutes. And the plot is woven together so intricately, it’s impossible to talk about the show without accidentally spoiling anything, but watching it all come together is incredibly satisfying. Plus, they wrapped up the Danny Latimer story line in a realistic (if not altogether happy) way.

Ellie: You seem much happier. What happened with Daisy?
Alec: I tore up her ticket.
Ellie: You took my advice?
Alec: Know what I realized, Miller?
Ellie: What?
Alec: I'm too nice to people.
Ellie: No, uh.
Alec: Never works, being nice. Done with that.

Do I recommend this show? Heck yes! The second season is a lot slower paced, and not as strong as the first season, but this final case delivered the Broadchurch I fell in love with in the first place and left me feeling emotionally exhausted.

Watch Superstore and Have a Heavenly Day

Once again, I find myself watching (and loving) a show Jane recommended a year ago, but seriously, you guys need to watch Superstore. Especially if you – like me – happen to work in a retail store. 

I laughed so hard at this show, I can’t even tell you. Each actor has fantastic comedic timing and the cast is a diverse melting pot of distinctive types, from flamboyant new employee Mateo, to their well-meaning but sometimes oblivious manager Glenn, to flighty teen (and soon-to-be-mom) Cheyenne, and no-nonsense associate manager Dina (who had some of the best lines in the show...it’s been weeks and I still haven’t stopped laughing at her retelling of the first time she got her period).

Balloons are like our souls.They want to go up, but can’t, and when you pop them, they scream.
— Glenn

While my store is technically a department store, it’s thankfully not a “big box” (like Walmart, or Superstore’s fictional Cloud 9), but wow, do I understand these characters! At one point, an old man dies in the store, and the most Garrett feels is apathy – he just doesn’t care – and I’ve never related to something so much in my life because I too am dead inside from having to deal with customers all day.

I’ve taken four breaks today, so I guess we both got stuff to brag about.
— Garrett

Then there’s the idea that customers will alternate between needing you to hold their hand to find the simplest of things (“The dress on the mannequin? It’s on the rack right beside the mannequin. Under the giant photo advertising that same dress.”), and treating you like you’re completely inept because you work in retail (“I just put your friend in a fitting room and you want to use the fitting room beside her? Why didn’t I think of that??”). The Cloud 9 associates have one thousand times more patience than I do – especially Amy, who’s been at it for ten years – because they never seem to lose their temper, no matter how annoying people are.

Tomorrow is gonna be just like today, and I know that because today is just like yesterday.
— Amy

And, like Jonah, I’m stuck in retail in my late twenties because I can’t get a “real” job (actually, Jonah abandons business school and ends up at Cloud 9 by chance, whereas I simply chose a field that has very limited job opportunities). So it’s kinda nice to see a character on TV who is around the same age as me and going through a similar career-driven crisis. 

That doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun at work, does it? Or try to find some moments of beauty in the every day?
— Jonah

I’d probably still find the show funny even if I didn’t work retail, but having such similar experiences really brings it home for me. You can just tell that the show writers had miserable retail jobs at some point, but managed to turn that anger and resentment into a hilarious and realistic portrayal of department store workers in America who just want to make enough money to be able to follow their dreams. 

Also, on a slightly unrelated note: I ship Jonah/Amy so hard, and I don't understand how they're going to get around the whole Amy-being-married thing, but I can't wait to find out!!!

Thirteen Reasons Why

I’ve been picking it up (and putting it back down) on and off for nearly ten years, but since Thirteen Reasons Why premiered on Netflix last month, it gave me the push I needed to finally read Jay Asher’s best-selling novel.

Perhaps I’m too old to be reading it for the first time, or maybe I over-hyped it in my mind, but either way, I didn’t love Thirteen Reasons Why as much as I’d hoped. 

The premise is fascinating: a few weeks after his classmate (and crush) Hannah commits suicide, Clay comes home to a set of cassette tapes from Hannah, each side calling out a person who somehow contributed to her decision to overdose. Clay isn’t sure what he could have done to drive Hannah to such drastic measures, and the more he listens to the tapes, the more his eyes are opened to the dark secrets of some of his other classmates. 

You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.

Hannah also leaves a map marking certain places in their town, so, while he’s listening to the tapes, Clay wanders around, visiting landmarks that were somehow important to Hannah. The story is mostly told through Hannah’s tapes, with Clay’s reactions and explanations filling in the blanks. 

I guess I understood Hannah’s actions (to a certain extent, because suicide is never the answer), but because she rewinds her story back by two years, there’s a lot of setup before she starts to hint at her eventual demise. I guess it’s a suspense novel, but I don’t have a whole lot of patience, so I mostly felt frustrated by the way she dragged out the reveals of each classmate’s identity. 

But you can’t get away from yourself. You can’t decide not to see yourself anymore. You can’t decide to turn off the noise in your head.

My biggest problem, however, was Clay. He felt incredibly flat, and rather boring, and I couldn’t get a good grasp of his character. SPOILER ALERT (even though the book has been out for a decade): Clay is the only person mentioned on the tapes who didn’t negatively affect Hannah. In fact, he had a spotless reputation (unlike Hannah’s, a result of sordid rumours that were spread about her) and she had a thing for him, but he’s mostly blameless. And that kinda annoyed me – I’d have preferred if he’d had some sort of dark secret only she had uncovered, otherwise he has nothing at stake if these tapes are released to the rest of the school. Plus she makes him feel hella guilty. And drags other people's reputations through the dirt...exactly like how they made her feel.

Everyone I know binged and raved about the show, but I could only force myself to watch the first and last episodes. It wasn't as riveting as I thought it would be, and I didn't really like the characters (not in the book, and certainly not in the show). Basically, any issues I had with the book were magnified in the show because there was no room for interpretation. And don't even get me started on the suicide scene. Long story short, I was not into it.

A Britophile's Recommendations

I’ve said it many times: I’m a britophile. I love all things British (I’m including Scotland and whatever half of Ireland is part of the UK here) and spend hours working on my fake accent (which I would never use in front of a real British person for fear of offending them), often ending up sounding like an extra in Harry Potter (or, alternatively, a member of You Me At Six). 

So while I’m by no means an expert on the culture (I think I’d actually have to move to London to get the full experience), I have an understanding of their pop culture. Thus, without further ado, here are some of my recommendations for the britophile in your life.

Books

Harry Potter, obviously. But also Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant mysteries which present a (mostly) contemporary London that is clearly written by someone who knows the city like the back of his hand. Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) if you want a list of Tube stations to visit, and Jane Austen if you (like me) have an interest in the Regency era. If you want something younger, Philip Pullman often sets his middle grade/YA books in England, and you can't go wrong with Roald Dahl; plus V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series takes place in (multiple versions of) London. 

TV

Doctor Who is probably the most British thing to exist (which explains why I fell in love with it) so it’s a good place to start. If you’re more of a mystery person, I deduce that you’d be interested in Sherlock and/or Broadchurch, though there are literally dozens of English detective-y shows on Netflix. For the comedy lover, The IT Crowd is hilarious, or The Delivery Man, or classic A Bit of Fry & Laurie (and Fawlty Towers) while the historian might want to take a visit to Downton Abbey. Oh, and Very British Problems because obviously.

Music

Arguably my area of expertise, over half of the bands I listen to are British, so if you're looking for recommendations, I got you. I've probably talked about most of these bands on this site at some point, so they may seem familiar to you by this point.

  • Alternative rock fan? Try You Me At Six (or Twin Atlantic or Deaf Havana or Mallory Knox or Young Guns or Royal Blood or Arctic Monkeys).
  • Prefer indie pop? Bastille or The 1975 (I actually don’t know what genre The 1975 considers themselves, but “indie pop” is close enough).
  • Pop-punk? Neck Deep (or Moose Blood or Roam).
  • Metal/post-hardcore? Bring Me the Horizon (or Bury Tomorrow or Architects or Enter Shikari).
  • Grunge? Milk Teeth.
  • Something more dance-able? Don Broco.
  • A weird mix of genres? Biffy Clyro.
  • Stadium rock? Muse, of course (but also Nothing But Thieves).
  • Irish (seriously, which part of Ireland is included in the UK?)? Two Door Cinema Club or The Script.
  • Straight up pop? Olly Murs.

I’m probably forgetting someone, but I think you get the point.

What's your favourite quintessentially British thing?

27 Songs

I turned 27 yesterday, so I'm celebrating the only way I know how: with a playlist of 27 songs I love/songs that have affected me in some way. Spoiler alert: it's pretty pop-punk heavy, but take a listen and maybe it will explain a lot about me. 

Mystery Team

Before Donald Glover was playing the best character at Greendale Community College, he was part of an internet sketch comedy group, Derrick Comedy, along with Dominic Dierkes and DC Pierson. After a few years of putting out videos, they took a break to create their first feature film, Mystery Team.

The Mystery Team - Jason (Donald Glover), the master of disguise; Duncan (DC Pierson), boy genius; and Charlie (Dominic Dierkes), the strongest kid in town - are three teens who have been solving neighbourhood mysteries since they were children. They never quite grew out of their boyish innocence (much to their parents’ chagrin), and are generally teased by their peers, but they believe that, if they could only solve a legitimate mystery, they’d finally get the respect they deserve. So when a little girl comes to them with the news that her parents were murdered, they band together to solve the mystery and maybe woo the girl’s older sister (Aubrey Plaza).

It’s not the most intelligent movie in the world, but it’s funny, a parody of classic children’s mystery characters like Scooby Doo or Encyclopedia Brown. There are a handful of incredibly gross scenes - it’s rated “R” for a reason - but the majority of it has a sense of innocence as the boys struggle to “grow up” while still holding onto their childhood. It’s not a long movie, and you don’t necessarily have to pay attention to every second of it, but if you need to laugh, you could do worse than going on an adventure with the Mystery Team.

iZombie's Sophomore Slump

A month ago, I talked about how much I enjoyed iZombie. Now I’m unfortunately here to tell you how disappointing season two was (for me, at least). 

It felt a lot slower and it was fifty-seven times more complicated. There were subplots upon subplots: Liv’s mystery solving, of course, but also Major/Chaos Killer/Max Rager, and Peyton/Blaine, and Liv/Major (which was thankfully short-lived and happily traded for Liv/Drake...which was also, unfortunately, short-lived), and Blaine/his flunkeys…

Idle brains are the devil’s workshop.
— Liv

AND THEN there were sub-subplots, like the redhead from Max Rager who was Liv’s roommate, but also secretly banging Major. Oh, plus Clive’s FBI agent love interest, and probably something else I can’t remember because I was so bored. 

I was able to work (i.e. write) while watching this season, which shows how dull it was because if it was truly riveting, I wouldn’t have gotten anything done. With so many plot points, it got tiresome waiting for all the characters to catch up - we, the viewers, would find out something from Liv, but someone else (Major, for example) wouldn’t be clued in for another three episodes, by which point everything is in chaos because NO ONE communicates. 

And I still don’t get how Clive was so clueless re: Liv’s zombieness (especially after he literally mentions Liv’s personality changes to Ravi)...I mean, what kind of detective is he???

There were some good episodes, but they were few and far between - a lot of filler episodes, compared to the fast-paced first season. Basically, Ravi was the best part of this season, because even Liv was pretty dumb sometimes. 

The Maker of Music, The Dreamer of Dreams: Reading Roald Dahl

For the past few months, I've been binge-reading the set of Roald Dahl books I asked for for Christmas two years ago. I remember reading a handful of his books when I was actually in the target age range, but, as a kidlit enthusiast, I was more than willing to devote an hour or two to each of the 15 phizz-whizzing books in the set.

The Good

Some of his books are popular for a simple reason - they're GREAT. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda (which I re-read before seeing the musical last summer), James and the Giant Peach, The BFG...basically, if it was eventually made into a movie, it's creativity at its best. I was also super into The Giraffe, The Pelly, and Me, because it could be the basis for a random Adventure Time episode, and The Enormous Crocodile (which wasn't actually part of my box set, but was one I mysteriously had on my shelves), though that was largely due to Quentin Blake’s hilarious illustrations (the crocodile dressed as a palm tree is my favourite). 

You can write anything for children as long as you’ve got humour.

The Bad

Esio Tort is pretty lame and super problematic if you actually dissect the story (please read Patrick Rothfuss’ scathing review for a) a laugh and b) an idea of how sub-par this installment is). 

The Twits would probably be more entertaining if I was actually 7 and not almost-27…instead, I was just kinda grossed out.

And Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator felt like I was on some vaguely racist drug the whole time. So there's that. 

The So-So

There's nothing wrong with Danny: The Champion of the World. It's a cute story with a clever ending, but my gosh, I was bored. It wasn't as whimsical as most of his other work, which, I think, was my problem.

The box set also included Dahl’s two attempts at writing his memoirs: Boy and Going Solo. They're both well written and he only picked the good parts to talk about, but, being non-fiction, I didn't find his real life adventures as compelling as his made up worlds (though they're still impressive).

As for the rest of the books in the set...they all sorta fall into the "So-So" category. Still, it won't take you long to read them, so if you're looking for some light kidlit (or, you know, actually have children to read to), Roald Dahl is a master. 

Woman Crush Wednesday: Donna Noble

Now that I’ve finished the David Tennant years of Doctor Who, I think I can finally say with certainty that Donna Noble is my favourite companion, which is why she’s my WCW this month. 

(There are spoilers ahead, FYI). 

Donna’s first appearance in Doomsday/The Runaway Bride shows us a temperamental redhead who spends most of her time shrilly shouting at the Doctor. But by the time they’re reunited in Partners in Crime, we can start to see how meeting the Doctor changed her. She’s still feisty and has a sharp tongue, but she’s a little more level-headed, not as superficial as she had been before she was accidentally beamed into the TARDIS. And, of course, like most of us would be, she’s ridiculously thrilled to find the Doctor again, after a year of looking for him. 

I know a lot of people love Ten/Rose’s relationship (my sister doesn’t, and I’m on the fence mostly because I like their tragic storyline but I - unpopular opinion alert - don’t really like Rose herself), and Martha is pretty much universally disliked (she had such potential to be awesome but ruined it by being bitter all the time), but Donna...well, as the Doctor himself said, Donna is brilliant...if a little sassy.

Donna isn’t afraid to call the Doctor out when he says something disparaging about humanity or shows his insensitive side. And even if that throws him off a little, it grounds him, showing him that a lot of his actions have consequences that, despite his genius, he can’t always see because he lacks that human connection. And her compassion changes him in little ways too, like when she persuades him to save Twelve, I mean, Caecilius, and his family from Pompeii. She also insists on being treated as his equal, even though she’s “just” a human. 

Listen, I don’t know what sort of kids you’ve been flying around with in outer space but you’re not telling me to shut up.
— Donna

And because she’s not romantically interested in him (she may be blind because HELLO DAVID TENNANT *swoons*), she’s not held back by her emotions, unlike his previous companions. Yes, she does kiss him at one point in an absolutely hilarious scene (I need someone to start a game of charades so I can guess “Harvey Wallbanger”), but she was only doing it to give him a shock and then they never spoke of it again. Instead, they have more of a brother-sister relationship: they take care of each other, and she (literally) saves him from himself on more than one occasion. 

Donna is also the most “real” of the companions thus far. She starts off as nobody special, a fast-talking, fast-typing temp in Chiswick, but once she and the Doctor start travelling together, she becomes very Important - if the Doctor hadn’t met Donna at such a crucial moment, the world would have ended a lot sooner. And sure, Rose looked into the TARDIS (and the TARDIS looked into her), but did she regenerate a whole new Doctor out of a severed hand? And then absorb some of his energy and become a half-Time Lord, half-human hybrid due to an instantaneous biological metacrisis? NO, I DON’T THINK SHE DID. Even after Rose and the Doctor were separated, she still had her memories of their time together (don’t even get me started on the clone). But Donna? Poor Donna ended up with her memory wiped, and regressed back into her former superficial self in a truly devastating scene that makes me sad every time I think about it. 

They will never forget her, while she can never remember. And for one moment... one shining moment... she was the most important woman in the whole wide universe.
— The Doctor

I would also like to say that I enjoy how Catherine Tate is a busty redhead whereas the Doctor’s previous two companions were tres petite. Thanks for giving us pear-shaped girls hope that we too can travel with the Doctor. 

In the end, Donna Noble was a truly well-rounded character who deserved every magical adventure she had with the Doctor. If only she could remember them.

I was gonna be with you. Forever.
— Donna

Good Grief, You Should Listen to Bastille

So you probably know by now that I like recommending music, and today is no exception. If you haven’t already been introduced to Bastille via the radio, please do your eardrums a favour and check them out now. 

As I mentioned, you may have heard Bastille on the radio – a few years ago, their first single, “Pompeii”, was playing everywhere. I don’t really listen to the radio, but I didn’t mind hearing it any time I happened to be tuned in: it’s hella catchy, and it’s only too easy to choreograph an interpretative dance to it (not that I’ve done that or anything...)

Since then, the band has released a second full-length album, Wild World (not to mention a deluxe edition of their debut, All This Bad Blood), and gone on multiple tours. I caught them at their first Canadian show in 2013, and saw them for the fourth time a couple of weeks ago. I always love seeing Bastille live because they put on such a fantastic show: not only are they full of energy and enthusiasm, but, more recently, their stage setup has been a visual treat. 

Probably my favourite part of a Bastille show is the way the lead singer, Dan Smith, often finds his way into the crowd, usually during a rendition of “Flaws”, weaving through the people on the floor and even venturing up through the seats (depending on the venue). The last two times we saw them live, Dan sauntered right past us, and if you don't think I flailed around fangirling, you probably don't know me very well. As my cousin mentioned, watching bands interact with the crowd creates a positive connection with the audience, bridging the gap between artists and fans for a few minutes a night and leaving a lasting impression.

I guess the best way to describe Bastille’s sound is electropop – they have that indie pop vibe but their use of synths, etc lead them more into the electronic end of the spectrum. All I know is that every so often, there’s a bass drop that delivers a shock to my soul in the best way possible. It’s also wild because a lot of their songs are quite sad in terms of lyrics, but they’re presented in such boppy, poetic ways that you don’t really realize how depressing they are (I also like that Dan’s accent comes out even when he’s singing). In addition to their own songs, they’re also pros when it comes to giving other people’s songs the Bastille treatment – one listen to their Miley Cyrus cover, and you’ll never listen to “We Can’t Stop” the same way.

The World's End

On Mondays, when we’re both at home, my sister and I have taken to watching random movies on Netflix while we work on our separate things. A couple of weeks ago, our movie du jour was The World’s End

For the first half an hour, the movie is about a group of old friends, led by Simon Pegg’s Gary King, who are attempting to complete the “Golden Mile” - twelve pubs in their small town of Newton Haven. They had tried to do the same pub crawl in their teens but failed to reach the twelfth pub, The World’s End, and Gary has never been able to let it go. 

I remember sitting up there, blood on my knuckles, beer down my shirt, sick on my shoes and seeing the orange glow of a new dawn break and knowing in my heart life would never feel this good again. And you know what? It never did.
— Gary King

Watching a bunch of dudes drink is fun and everything - particularly when one of the men is Martin Freeman - but it would be a pretty slow movie if a pub crawl was the main plotline, even if the names of the pubs do foreshadow all the upcoming events. Which is why there’s also an alien invasion and androids who bleed blue gunk and at least two explosions.

And underneath all that, there’s a story of friendship and feeling alienated from your hometown, especially after a long absence, and being true to yourself. 

Face it, we are the human race and we don’t like being told what to do!

Plus it’s hilarious. So there’s that. 

Your Next Netflix Binge: Santa Clarita Diet

I guess I've been on a bit of zombie kick recently: not only am I almost done season two of iZombie, but I spent a couple of days binge-watching Santa Clarita Diet - and you should too. 

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant are Sheila and Joel Hammond, a realtor couple whose normal lives are thrown into disarray when, one day, Sheila vomits an insane amount, momentarily dies, and opens her eyes again with a sudden craving for human flesh. 

From that moment on, Joel dedicates time to understanding more about his wife's condition, even trying to find a cure...all while making sure she's well-fed, and avoiding their suspicious sheriff neighbour, Dan. 

The Hammonds' teenage daughter, Abby, also has to deal with her mom's newly undead status, while also becoming friends with her nerdy neighbour, Dan's stepson Eric, and just generally being really cool (there's one episode where she gets revenge on her friend's ex, and it's amazing). 

Most of the characters have their fair share of funny moments, but Timothy Olyphant is the scene-stealer. Whether he's dramatically reacting to a new effect of Sheila's zombiesm (like when she slowly starts deteriorating) or dropping a well-placed curse (the amount of swearing somehow makes this show funnier?), he's easily the best character in all of Santa Clarita....though you also have to give Drew Barrymore props for managing to combine her usual sweet demeanor with a more aggressive flesh-eating persona. 

It can be kinda gross sometimes (seriously, Sheila vomits EVERYWHERE), but it's also clever and laugh-out-loud hilarious (it's from the creator of one of my favourite short-lived shows, Better Off Ted). With only ten episodes, it's easy to binge-watch. So what are you waiting for? Start the Santa Clarita Diet now!

A Conjuring of Light

Last year, I “discovered” V.E. Schwab, so the final book in her Shades of Magic trilogy, A Conjuring of Light, was one of my most anticipated books of 2017. Luckily, it came out at the end of February, so I didn’t have to wait TOO long to pick it up.

I’m not really sure how to talk about this book without spoiling the first two, so let’s talk about why it was a perfect ending to the trilogy. 

Character Development

One of the strongest parts of the Shades of Magic trilogy is the characters, specifically the big five: Kell, Lila, Rhy, Alucard, and Holland. Each one gets his/her chance to shine, chapters dedicated to their personal quests and the way they changed since we first met them in A Darker Shade of Magic (though, technically, we met Alucard in A Gathering of Shadows). We see them become bigger versions of themselves as they fight to save Red London from falling to Osaron, the shadow. 

Magic made everything feel so impermanent, it was easy to forget that some things, once changed, could never be undone. That not everything was either changeable or infinite. Some roads kept going, and others had an end.

Plot

Admittedly, there were some slow moments, but the book started off with a bang: it picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows ended, with half the characters in distress and the other half trying to save them. There are lots of fight scenes (so many bodies!) and heart-stopping moments as Kell (and, consequently, Rhy) experience ridiculous levels of pain, but she manages to answer questions and wrap up all of their stories without trying too hard. And, of course, the writing is still beautiful - descriptive without being tiresome. 

Myths do not happen all at once. They do not spring forth whole into the world. They form slowly, rolled between the hands of time until their edges smooth, until the saying of the story gives enough weight to the words—to the memories—to keep them rolling on their own.

My Emotions

Like just about any V.E. Schwab book, I cried at least once (fine, I just teared up, but I was in public, so…), and felt emotionally drained by the time I reached the last page. If there’s one thing she’s good at (apart from writing an epic fantasy series), it’s tugging at the ol’ heartstrings. 

Love and loss...are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.

My only problem was that it felt a little slow at times, but I was interested enough to push through. And I did forget some of the minor characters, but that’s mostly because it’s been a year since I read AGOS. Overall, it was a satisfying conclusion to what has become one of my favourite series. 

Anoshe brought solace. And hope. And the strength to let go.

A Podcast Recommendation: Doctor Whodlums

As a new Doctor Who fan, I'm at that stage where I both need to consume as much Whovian material as possible but also can't get too deep into the fandom because I'm several years behind. And I just happened to stumble upon a podcast that gives me my fix AND lets me control how much is spoiled (to a certain extent): Doctor Whodlums

Hosted by Chelsea Christer and Zen Zenith, these self-titled Whodlums tackle episodes from the rebooted series. Among their opinions on storylines and characters, the two also create an episode-based drink - like a banana daiquiri for "The Girl in the Fireplace", in honour of the Doctor accidentally inventing the drink in 18th century France - and things can get a little tipsy. 

I haven't listened to all of the episodes yet because I’m not caught up on the actual show, but it’s been fun hearing their takes on the episodes I have seen (especially the episodes I loved). They provide fun facts and tidbits, and try to stay away from anything too spoiler-y, while occasionally going off on random tangents. 

They haven’t posted a new episode since early 2016, but since I don’t think there was a new Doctor Who season last year, it makes sense...and it means I still have time to catch up on a few more seasons before they record anything new!

You can check out Doctor Whodlums on Twitter and Facebook!

Sing Street

I've heard a lot about Sing Street, so I finally got around to watching it on Netflix, and it did not disappoint.

Set in 1980's Dublin, it tells the story of Conor, a kid from a down-on-their-luck family who ends up being pulled out of his private school in favour of a (cheaper) state school. While there, he meets Raphina, the enigmatic aspiring model, and, in an attempt to impress her, he claims that he's in a band and needs a model for an upcoming video. One problem: Conor can barely play an instrument, never mind be in a band. 

Of course, that doesn't stop him, and hijinks ensue when he recruits a bunch of other students from Synge Street CBS to put together a band aptly called Sing Street. At first they play covers, but after a chat with his older brother, Conor starts writing original music, most of them with lyrics inspired by Raphina.

You can never do anything by half; do you understand that?
— Raphina

It's a cute movie, but it's not all sunshine and good vibes - the characters don't always have the easiest lives, but they channel those feelings into their music. While the plot mostly revolves around the band and Conor's relationship with Raphina, most of the characters have extensive backstories and side plots that add emotional depth At about 100 minutes long, they pack in a whole lot of information and detail - Conor's parents' failing marriage; the friction that causes with his older brother; the way he feels out of place at school; and, of course, the school bully.

It's also fun to see how different each boy in the band is, and how they all come together. And, of course, the soundtrack is amazing - a mix of classic songs that clearly influenced Sing Street's sound (Duran Duran, The Cure, and Hall & Oates all make appearances), and original songs that I can't stop listening to. Please do yourself a favour and listen to "Drive It Like You Stole It", though, really, I'd recommend just watching the whole movie. 

The Funny Side of Instagram

A couple of weeks ago, Jane and I discussed some of our favourite instagram accounts. As I was scrolling through who I follow, I realized that I keep tabs on quite a few comic artists, so I put together a list of some of the ones I think are especially hilarious. 

adamtots

His topics are varied, from pop culture references to politics, and you may have seen some of his comics on Buzzfeed and similar sites, but oh my gosh, they crack me up. I laughed for about 48 hours after this particular image popped up. 

introvertdoodles

I'm probably not as introverted as Marzi is, mostly because I work in retail and am forced to interact with other humans, but she speaks a lot of truth - I too rarely want to leave the house because I'm in the middle of a good book.

poorlydrawnlines

There's a certain dry humour in these comics that make me laugh so hard, I can't even explain it. My favourite is whenever an animal gives someone the finger. HILARIOUS. 

chrishallbeck

For such simple drawings (they're literally stick figures), he manages to pack so much humour into a handful of lines. If you're into bookish humour, he also has a secondary account that depicts what it's like to work in a library (aptly named "library comic"). 

There are lots of others, including lunarbaboon, sarahandersencomics, and barelyfunctionaladult, but I'll leave you to chortle over these ones for now. 

Becoming a Whovian Fifty Years Late

I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but every so often, I come across a new-to-me show that completely takes over my life. It happened with Adventure Time, and then again with Sherlock, and now it’s happening once more with Doctor Who (which, I realize, has been around for over fifty years, wow, sorry I’m behind on the times, I’m still working on building a TARDIS).

It would take me years to catch up on the classic Who episodes, so I started with the reboot, and I don't regret a single thing. I know my sister is probably reading this and thinking “You’re just in it for David Tennant”. And I’ll readily admit that she’s not wrong – Ten is a big reason why I wanted to watch the show in the first place, and is absolutely one of the reasons why I’m this obsessed. But David Tennant’s charming mannerisms and cute face (and great hair) aside, there are other reasons why this show speaks to me. 

As soon as I started watching it, I realized that Doctor Who is basically the live-action version of Adventure Time, except more time travell-y. Like Adventure Time (which, as I've mentioned, I LOVE), there are episodes that confuse me, but still leave me intrigued. And there are episodes that make no sense and bore me to regeneration. There are episodes that start to fill in the blanks left by those previous episodes so that I can “ooh” and “ahh” over all the foreshadowing. And there are episodes that reach into my chest and pull out my one still-beating heart and leave me completely devastated (graphic, I know, but I’ve been crying about the fourth season for WEEKS). 

Some people live more in twenty years than others do in eighty. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.

Not to mention I, quite simply, love a good time travel story. Time travel was the one redeeming quality of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (even if the rest of the story was nonsensical garbage), and I find the concept fascinating, if a little confusing. So the fact that the Doctor can go as far forward or as far back in time as he wishes is pure magic in my eyes. I especially love any time he ends up cavorting with historical figures: fighting werewolves with Queen Victoria, witnessing Shakespeare’s lost play, solving a murder mystery with Agatha Christie, etc. I like aliens and space adventures as much as the next person, but there’s something special about watching the Doctor insert himself into actual human history. 

People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... timey wimey... stuff.

Plot aside, I also enjoy the characters. You should all know by now how I feel about Ten, but Nine was also, in his own words, “fantastic” (I haven’t started watching Eleven’s seasons yet). Captain Jack Harkness makes any situation ten times as fun (and flirtatious), I need to know more about River Song, and Donna Noble...well, I’m dedicating a whole post to her next month, so you’ll just have to wait and see how I feel about her (spoiler alert: Donna is the flippin’ best). Even Rose and Martha, for all their faults, served a purpose; they may not have been my favourites, but they helped shape the Doctor – and the series – in ways only they could. 

I know at least three people who were shocked to find out that it took me this long to watch Doctor Who because it’s a show that combines a whole bunch of my favourite things into one neat (but expensive – great Gallifrey, the DVDs cost a fortune!!) blue box. As mad as I am that I waited this long to discover the Doctor, I’m so glad I finally took the leap.

The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life...You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say ‘no’. You have the guts to do what’s right, when everyone else just runs away.

NetGalley Review: The Bone Witch

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Release date: March 7th, 2017
Publisher: Sourcefire Books

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.
Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.
Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

I really wanted to like The Bone Witch. Like, really really wanted to love it. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis is intriguing, but the actual book? The actual book bored me. 

I always hate giving books negative reviews because I know how much passion and work goes into the story writing process and I admire people who make a living out of it or who, at least, have the guts to share their words with so many people. But at the end of the day, I only read about 20% of The Bone Witch and skimmed the other 80%.

I will say this: Rin Chupeco put a lot of effort into building this world (world-building is not my forte). There are rules and customs and multiple kingdoms and that's really cool, but I couldn't bring myself to care. A vast majority of the book is description - of the world, as I mentioned, but also of Tea’s daily tasks and her clothes. OH GOSH her clothes!! I'm not 100% sure what a “hua” is, but they were described to death and I'm just not into it. 

If there is one thing people desire more than a good story...it is when they speak their own.

I unfortunately didn't love any of the characters (except maybe Tea’s brother/familiar Fox) and it made it hard for me to care what was going on since I couldn't get a good grasp on any of them (probably because I was skimming so much!). I also didn't like the dual perspectives - most of the book was from Tea’s POV, but every few chapters there was a “present-day” scene from a Bard’s POV who is listening to Tea retell her story. That secondary POV was basically used to add tension as Tea hinted at what was to come, but it just made the story drag (and I totally saw the twist with her “beloved” coming from a mile away). 

Everyone is a puzzle...made of interlocking tiles you must piece together to form a picture of their souls. But to successfully build them, you must have an idea of their strengths as well as their weaknesses.

Overall, I was very disappointed with the way The Bone Witch turned out. It had such potential, the prose is decent, and I’m sure there are people raving about the inspiration drawn from Asian cultures, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t entertaining enough to keep me invested.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Olivia Moore

As per my post last Tuesday, I recently watched the first season of iZombie. For all the entertaining things about it, the highlight is our main zombie girl herself, Olivia Moore (Rose McIver). Here's why she's my WCW this month. 

Pre-Zombie

Before getting scratched and catching the zombie bug, Liv was a medical resident. She was smart and good at her job, and had ambitions - all admirable qualities, to be sure. And even if she wasn't exactly a party girl (apparently for good reason. Look what happened when she DID go to a party), she still had a social life: a former sorority girl engaged to a her college sweetheart. 

Zombie

All I want right now is to be able to rock white hair as well as Liv does. I just admire her fashion sense in general - girly, but edgy, her clothes are a more put-together version of my own closet. Plus who doesn't love (or need) a serviceable leather jacket?

Pre-zombie scratch Liv is a little harder to understand because she takes on traits from the brains she consumes, but whether she's eaten a sociopath or a new mother, she's curious, loyal, and bright, always willing to help her friends and family, even when she has to hide her true nature from them. Not to mention she's hella resourceful (see next point). 

"I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted to help people. Not necessarily as a zombie psychic who eats murder victim brains, but still I so nailed it today. I've spent five months bemoaning all that was taken from me. It never occurred to me that I'd have something to give. A way to contribute. A reason for being not alive. To sleep, perchance to not dream. All I needed was some hope that there's a future that I fit into somehow."

Zombie-Mode

At first, Live lets her new circumstances steer her life. Eventually, she comes to accept (or, at least, starts to accept) what being a zombie means, and she uses it to her advantage. She gets a job at the morgue to ensure that she has a steady supply of brains to eat; she uses her resulting visions/psychic powers to selflessly help cops (even when - especially when - she has to eat a former friend); and Liv is FIERCE when she goes full zombie. You gotta admire a girl who can fight for herself. 

The only time she's a questionable role model (apart from the whole "eating brains" thing) is the way she keeps pining after her ex-fiance (who really isn't that special). 

Jen Janet is Dangerous

Jen Janet is no stranger to making music. As the lead vocalist for alternative rock band Blind Revision, she’s used to belting out lyrics over heavy bass and percussion. But that doesn’t mean she’s stuck to one genre. 

As a solo artist, Janet is exploring the pop and EDM side of music. Her new EP, Dangerous (out today) is four tracks of her soaring vocals over pulsing beats. 

Check out the title track “Dangerous” below, as well as an interview with Jen Janet herself! 

When/how did you start making music?

I started singing in front of people when I was four years old. I’ve been singing pretty much as long as I can remember. It was something I always loved to do, but I started making music professionally about two or three years ago. 

How would you describe your sound?

This EP is very pop and EDM influenced. If you like Tove Lo, Lady Gaga or Marina and the Diamonds, you’ll probably get into it. I wanted to get people dancing with this project, and I hope I’ve done my job!

What are some of your favorite bands? Who (or what) else inspires/influences you?

I listen to a lot of different genres of music, so these will be all over the place. But my influences include Deadmau5, Nirvana, Pvris, Avril Lavigne, Florence and the Machine, The Pretty Reckless, Paramore, Lana Del Rey, New Year’s Day and many others. I’m inspired by anything I hear. 

Who in the music industry would you love to work with (other bands/musicians/producers, etc)?

I’d love to work with Obeson someday. He is a producer and musician based in Toronto, Canada, and he creates very atmospheric, strong electronic music. It’s some of the most unique electronic music out there now, in my opinion. 

Do you have any tour plans in the works? What would be your dream tour line-up?

Currently I do not have any confirmed tour dates for the Dangerous EP. However, I will be going on an east coast tour with my band Blind Revision in May. We will most likely be playing dates in New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts. 

As for my dream tour line-up, I think it would be awesome to tour with Sevdaliza. I’ve been listening to her for a while now, and she’s a very artistic and creative electronic musician.

What kind of advice would you give someone who just started a musical career? What was the best piece of advice you’ve received?

My advice would be to do as much networking as possible! Opportunities will come to you if you meet the right people. As with any industry, there’s always some people who have ill intentions, but you’ll be able to find people who genuinely enjoy the music you’re making. And of course, make sure you cut out the toxic people from your life. If someone is manipulating you or causing you problems, that will continuously stress you out and hold you back. 

My second piece of advice would be to try to become as self-aware as possible. If you are indecisive, it will take you a lot longer to do things in the industry. You need to set clear goals and stick to them. If you have a big work ethic and you can motivate yourself, you’ll be fine. But you definitely need to work hard, and be cognisant of who you are and what you want in the future. Get to a point where you can understand what you will or won’t sacrifice for success. 

Some of the best advice I have gotten was from Ash Costello of the band New Year’s Day. She told me to remember that music is a business, and you need to understand the business aspect of it in order to be successful. That is definitely true. I know a lot of talented musicians who deserve to be heard, but they can’t focus on the business aspect of their craft. They only want to focus on the art. I understand it’s difficult, but in order to be successful you need to know both. If you don’t know something, do your research or ask for advice. 

Who are some of your girl crushes (real or fictional)?

My girl crush growing up was always Natalie Portman. I think she’s gorgeous, and of course, very talented. 

I’m also obsessed with pretty much all the female characters from the Batman franchise: Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, etc. I’m a nerd!

Get to a point where you can understand what you will or won’t sacrifice for success.