[Media Update] Best of 2013

One last best of and then we can officially move on into the new year I promise! Last but not least let’s take a look at what stood out to me in the book, tv, film and music world:

Books:

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First off: If you would like to get a conclusive look at what I have been reading all year you can click here

and this should take you to my goodreads ‘Year in Books’, also I started a new reading challenge AND I am on a bookban because I want to drastically reduce my sub-list (Still Unread Books). If you are a bookworm like me and would like to start your own reading challenge or just would like to see how I do with mine you can friend me on goodreads.com. I love this site, it neatly keeps track of my progress and helps me to remember all the books I have read and how I liked them. It also let’s interact with other bookworms, etc.

Book-wise this was a big year. I read Sebastian Fitzek’s Eye Collector and Eye Hunter, The Eye Collector pretty much in one sitting because it gripped me tight and didn’t let me go until the end. Fitzek renewed my love for psycho thrillers. Once the book ban is over I cannot wait to get my hands on his new offerings.

Next up was Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy parts one and two. Fall of Giants and Winter of the World were absolutely beautiful. The books follow the destinies of four families one from the UK, the US, Germany and Russia respectively. It was amazing to see all the strands come together that led to the first World War and to get all the different perspectives on World War I and II. So far I only really knew what happened in Germany and I only knew the basics about the other countries. This series helped to give the horrors of the first and especially the second war a human face. What stood out to me was the kindness that Follett showed towards the German characters. It would have been easy to make them the bad guys, instead he portrayed a family with a son falling into the nazi trap, a father broken by the fall of democracy and a mother and daughter who desperately try to do the right, good thing in a world where they may easily get killed for just that. Follett didn’t play any of the nazi crimes down but he also remembered there were human beings affected in this war on all sides.
The third book Edge of Eternity is coming out in the fall and I will break my bookban for that.

Another trilogy that stands out to me is Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy parts one and two A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. Vampires, witches, a beautiful lovestory, gorgeous locations and lovable characters, these books have it all. I cannot wait to go on the last ride with Matthew and Diana, even though I dread it too, I don’t want it to be over. Book three The Book of Life comes out in summer and is another ban-breaker.

I also read and loved Susan Ee’s Angelfall, the entire Divergent-trilogy (unpopular opinion: I loved the ending), I finished the Infernal Devices-trilogy with Clockwork Princess and cried a river over another beautiful ending, I discovered my ultimate guilty pleasure in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars- series (chick flick with a little American Football on the side? YES PLEASE!). Honorary mentions also go to Alyson Noel’s Fated, Lauren Graham’s Someday Someday Maybe (great great love) and Nalini Singh’s Angels’ Blood (currently started to re-read it to get ready for the collab with The Bookbeauty, yay!).

TV shows:

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I fell and fell hard this year. Remember my 3 months long Tudors- craze? Then there was the Sons of Anarchy-phase (oh the brilliancy of that one! Will re-watch it once I am done with Gossip Girl), and of course the Friday Night Lights-phase. FNL and Veronica Mars hold the top spot of my most loved, most influential tv shows of all time. SoA exposes my masochistic vein: It cracks me open, strips me bare, shocks me and still I’m coming back for more.
Another show that was burned into my heart this year was Vikings. I have seen the first season about 5-10 times by now and in February the dvd’s are finally coming out, expect the craze to resume then!

Honorary mentions go to Dark Angel (still need to pick up season 1) and s4 of Smallville, I caught up on the Closer (another great love of mine, waiting for s7 now), on Trueblood (next stop s5), picked up two more seasons of Bones (s4 and s5) and finally found the courage to finish Lost.

On a different segment of the spectrum I watched the crap out of Mock the Week and Russell Howard’s Good News over the summer and I keep on coming back to rewatch a couple of episodes every few weeks. I don’t know what it is but there is something about British political comedy that makes me giggle again whenever I watch it again. Dara o’Briain, Frankie Boyle, Andy Parsons, Adam Hill and of course Russell Howard never fail to make me smile, no matter how upset I am.

I don’t really know what I am looking forward to this year. Well, clearly Sherlock s3, Vikings s2 and the new Der Letzte Bulle (German crime procedural), but other than that? Oh yeah and obviously new seasons of Mock the Week and hopefully Russell Howard’s Good News!

Movies:

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That one is easy: It’s a tie between Man of Steel and Pacific Rim.

Music:

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2013 was the year of me delving into new music worlds while still loving my old faves:

My main discovery this year was Mumford & Sons. Their two albums Sigh No More and Babel whisked me away. I love the combination of blue grass, a british accent and beautiful lyrics, I am constantly stuck between dancing and dreaming away.

My favorite band Saltatio Mortis brought out a beautiful new album, again with beautiful lyrics and an amazing sound somewhere between old and well known and a new spin.

A fairly recent addition is Awolnation with Megalithic Symphony but this album took my by a storm. It is quite different to what I normally listen to and it keeps me on my toes. It just feels fresh and new to me because it is so different to my normal power rotation.

Honorable mentions go to Lady Gaga – Fame Monster Album (yep, I’m late on that band waggon), Gloriana- Can’t Shake You, Fun.- Some Nights, Of Monsters and Men- Little Talks, Eminem- Recovery Album (currently binge listening to the Marshall Mathers LP2 and Curtain Call), Katzenjammer- A Kiss Before You Go Album, Delain (just for being Delain, I love them so much! also We Are The Others!), Tarja- Colors In The Dark Album, The Birthday Massacre and Letzte Instanz.

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Blogmas Day #16: [Media Update] My Favorite Christmas Movies

Good evening, guys! How was your day? Mine was okay. My bosses really stop my job from being a total suckfest.

Now, after we have been dealing with christmas music and tv, let’s focus on the big screen. Germany doesn’t really have a tradition of christmas movies, it’s only been in the last couple of years that networks and cinemas actually make the effort to show movies that have something to do with christmas. Before, we had the same cutesy period romances airing (I’m looking at you, Sissi) and a couple of classics.

Two years ago or so my favorite network did something amazing: They aired ‘The Holiday’ and ‘Love Actually’ back to back on christmas day. The genius who came up with this should get a medal or something! Either way, from this moment on those two movies were burnt into my heart. And last year I found this thing of awesomeness on amazon.co.uk:

 

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Ooooh yes! ‘The Holiday’ and ‘Love Actually’ in one box *__*
Like last year I will save those two for christmas day and I will watch them snuggled up after my long hot bath, with a cup peppermint hot chocolate or marzipan cappuccino and just let the world be the world.

‘The Holiday’ is about two women switching their homes to break away from their lives.

‘Love Actually’ explores love in all its different facettes.

Blogmas Day #9: [Media Update] Christmas Eps….

Today was a pretty productive day that hopefully kicks off a productive week! I went to job #2, sorted some grown-up stuff, took pics for tomorrow’s christmas make up – fingers crossed they turned out okay-, and now I have Awolnation on my ears (it’s love!) and I’m ready to blog up a storm before I take a long shower and snuggle in with my cat and Scherbenmond 🙂

Oh, do you want to see what I see when I blog? Here ya go:

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As christmas approaches I like to watch christmassy stuff and a lot of my favorite tv shows have produced christmas episodes and last year I made a (incomplete) list of all the christmas eps I have on dvd. I know this is a rather boring post but maybe some of you will like it and please feel free to add episodes of your fave tv shows, so maybe by next year we have a better, more complete list:

 

The Big Bang Theory:
2×11 The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis
3×11 The Maternal Congruence

Bones:
1×09 The Man in the Fallout Shelter (one of my big time favorites, so beautiful and so sad!)
3×09 The Santa in the Slush
5×10 The Goop on the Girl (with Zoe Deschanel!)

The Closer:
3×14 & 15 Next of Kin: Part 1&2
6×13&14 Living Proof: Part 1&2

Hawaii Five-O:
1×12 Hana ‘a’a Makehawa

Gilmore Girls:
1×10 Forgiveness and Stuff
7×10&11 Merry Fisticuffs/ Santa’s Secret Stuff

Gossip Girl:
1×11 Roman Holiday

Supernatural:
3×08 A Very Supernatural Christmas

The Tudors:
1×02 Simply Henry
2×04 The Act of Succession
3×03 Dissension and Punishment
4×02 Sister

Veronica Mars:
1×10 An Echolls Family Christmas
2×10 One Angry Veronica

I can’t wait to go through these one by one over the course of the weeks. A couple of those are great favorites of mine.

Oh by the way I started to watch Gossip Girl S1 again last night. I needed something to take the edge off after the Fast and the Furious desaster…

 

Media Update: Amazon Haul and a Rant

October was a good month for me in terms of releases of long awaited books and dvds but when my payday rolled around I went a little crazy amazon.co.uk in addition of what I already had pre-ordered months ago, so here is what I bought:

 

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Amazon Haul Part 1

The Borgias Season 3
If you’ve been following this blog you may know how obsessed I am with The Tudors, now, after Tudors ended SHO greenlit The Borgias. The Borgias like the title suggests centers around the Borgia family, the illegitimate family of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons) who in the course of the first season becomes Pope Alexander VI. With him to the Vatican he brings his sons Cesare (Francois Arnaud), a bishop and cardinal who later will become the first and last cardinal to this date who returned the crimson robes to become a secular lord, Juan (David Oakes), who is supposed to lead the papal armies and the youngest Gioffre (Aidan Alexander), who after he was married off in the first season never played a role again (as far as I know). Probably the best known member of the Borgia family is Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger), Rodrigo’s daughter whom he uses as a pawn in his game of power. Rodrigo also brings with him the mother of his four children Vanozza Cattaneo (Joanne Whalley) and his new mistress Giulia Farnese (Lotte Verbeek). This patch work family setting plus a devious college of cardinals and the ongoing political struggles in a not yet united Italy create the somewhat explosive backdrop to this family saga. I just love period pieces, LUUURVE them! The costumes, the sets, the music, that along with a great cast and great writing makes for something I keep on re-watching. I’m so glad the dvds finally came out here.

Blood Creek
My horror movie of choice for Halloween. Henry Cavill starrs as paramedic Evan in an American smalltown whose veteran brother Victor (Dominic Purcell) has gone missing two years ago but magically arrives on his doorstep demanding that they load the guns in the pick up truck and go on to hunt down the people who held him captive. Once on the conveniently creepy farm they discover that they are dealing with a Nazi freak (Michael Fassbender) whose dabbling into the occult has turned him into an immortal, to the core evil creature that can also call other dead creatures back from the dead. Blood, gore, strong language, creepy zombies. I liked it. (Yeah, I’m weird)

Immortals
Shirtless, Greek demi-god Henry Cavill. Need I say more? I know a lot of people thought the movie was horrible. I believe, if you move away from seeing this a repropduction of the Theseus myth and look at it as an artsy compilation of different styles, different ways of storytelling it becomes quite interesting. Visually the movie is fascinating, the sets look like fancy theater sets most of the time actually that is what I settled for I see this as kind of a fancy theater production. The one thing I know for sure is that I need to watch this again, maybe one day I can make sense of what Tarsem Singh was trying to tell us with this.
Storywise this is loosely based on the Theseus myth in which Theseus (Henry Cavill) has to kill the evil king Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) who is on the hunt for a magic weapon that would allow him to set free the Titans and control the world. Sprinkle in a group of Greek gods, a not so virgin oracle and you’re good.

Cold Light of Day
Henry Cavill’s Will has to save his family from a government plot and barely succeeds. Man, this story has plot holes so big you can hide an SUV in there. But it has car chases, a running Henry, Sigourney Weaver and Bruce Willis. So there.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
All good things come to an end. And so did the Divergent Trilogy with Allegiant. In the last installment Tris and Four have to face new fears and challenges to overcome their dystopian world to make it a better one. I loved the series from the beginning. Tris is the strongest female character I have ever read in a YA book. She errs, admits errors and grows with them. With every book we peel back more of the layers that make her so special. Four is the ink and paper incarnation of my perfect man, not too soft not too tough and always finds the right words. Yes, I am being evasive on the story just because I don’t want to ruin it for anybody who still wants to read it. I cannot recommend it enough. If you like YA in dystopian settings this is for you.

Man of Steel
After Greek demi-god here goes Kryptonian god in a bloody suit I can’t bloody stop staring at. -.- Do you sense a pattern by now? I enjoyed this movie. The story of the little boy who can’t help but use his unusual strength to help people, who later as an adult has to run and hide after he was a discovered again and again. Who has to come to terms with who he is and what he wants after General Zod threatens to take away everything he loves and more. It is another Superman adaptation after all and admittedly I only watched because of Henry Cavill but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Visually it was beautiful, it was beautifully told and had good performances of everyone involved. This is definitely a movie I will come back to time and time again. Though I am not particularly psyched for Batfleck I can’t wait to see Henry’s Clark Kent again.

 

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Amazon Hail Part 2

Sidenote: While amazon.co.uk worked flawlessly and got all my items to me even before the estimated delivery date amazon.de effed things up real good. I am a prime customer on amazon.de which means I pay extra money for express delivery, plus they guarantee that pre-ordered items will arrive on the release date. Um yeah. They didn’t. Allegiant was two days late, Man of Steel was 4 days late and it was shipped via snail mail. At this point I don’t even know what I am a prime customer for, they take my money and ship things the cheapest way possible. I have the Pacific Rim dvd preordered and I am fairly certain I will go through the same sh*t with that again. I am actually pondering to just withdraw the order and buy it instore on the release date. Rant over.

Media Update: Sons of Anarchy meets 50 Shades of Grey?, playing Hide and Seek and the Witch I can’t shake

First things first. Charlie Hunnam is going to play Christian Grey. CAN he do it? Hell yes! Anyone who has seen his at times mind-boggling performances on Sons of Anarchy (which is one of the best TV shows I have ever seen) will attest to that. I respect his decision to become associated with the project. But even he will not bring me to watch the movie and I will continue to stay as far away from the book as I can. Oh and shame on everybody who says he needs to get a hair cut and rid of the beard and that he isn’t pretty enough, you clearly haven’t seen him smile. *mild fangirling *sorry not sorry

Under the Dome started on German television and I just had to start watching it and I LOVE it so far. I love the premisse, I love how the setting gives the writers the perfect background to play with the corruptions and perversions of the human soul, also I am starting to develop a liking for Stephen King. My first contact with him in 8th grade was traumatizing, now, ten years later I am thrilled by the way he plays with the darkness in all of us. I feel I am ready to face him now.
The acting is good. Barbie is hot, Junior is creepy and Rachelle Lefevre continues to pop up in a lot of TV shows that I like. Let’s hope it doesn’t lose steam.

My music love this week has been The Birthday Massacre’s Hide and Seek. I am a little late on this particular band waggon, the album came out a couple of months ago, but it is brilliant. Spheric, dream-like electronic metal, with a crystal clear female voice. The Birthday Massacre always helps me to dream away, to calm down and rest. To me this is decidedly fall and winter music, maybe that’s why it only klicked with me now. My favorite songs from the album are ‘Leaving Tonight’ and ‘Long Way Home’. Give it  a listen if you like.

Another music love is Tarja’s new album Colors in the Dark. I read somewhere that this is the perfect soundtrack for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, I quite agree. It is creepy and lovely, brilliantly sung, colorful and edgy. It is a good soundtrack for reading, too. Another aspect is that this is an album where I need to listen to it as a whole, I can’t single a song out. It creates a flow and an atmosphere that I don’t want to disturb. If you don’t know Tarja: She used to be the frontwoman of Nightwish. After their split she started a solo career. With her music she continues down the operatic metal road.

A Discovery of Witches continues to amaze me. It is beautifully written, chockfull of strong women and the proof that strong women and protective men can work, also that protective men can learn to give their strong women space and have faith in them. The settings in this book are brilliant and I am in love with all of them: The Oxford Bodleian Library and Matthew’s Tudor estate; Sept-Tours with it’s lovely top-of-the-tower study and massive four-poster and of course Diana’s parents house-with-a-heart in Upstate New York. Have I mentioned that it is October as we visit Upstate New York? Yep, brilliant!

Aaaand that’s a wrap for this weeks media update! Did I miss something? Comments or suggestions? Feel free to talk to me!

Media Update: Divergent, A Discovery of Witches and Wentworth Miller

First off: I’m trying something new here. I am a media addict and this blog is my personal playground, so I thought I would comment on a few things that stood out to me in the past weeks, so this is a bit of a mixture between trailer reaction and a general update on what I am reading/watching and a general comment on media related goings on. Bear with me, here we go:

Can we talk a little about the Divergent first look? I read the book a couple of months ago (immediately followed by Insurgent, Allegiant is already pre-ordered) and loved it as I haven’t loved a YA book in a long time. It has a strong-willed female mc, a gruff but lovable male mc, a dystopian setting and loads of action, what’s not to love?

I know you always have to take first looks, teasers, even trailers with a grain of salt. Sometimes they just cut the best scenes together and the rest of the movie is pretty much sh*t and in this particular case I’ve read it both ways: people who were upset about the trailer and hated it and others that raved about it. I’m afraid I belong to the raving party. I love it.

It looks a lot like I imagined it, Shailene Woodley seems to be a good choice (I haven’t seen her in anything else yet but she seems to capture Tris very well in the first look), and Theo James? FINALLY A YA HERO I CAN DROOL OVER WITHOUT FEELING LIKE A COMPLETE CREEP!!! (he’s 3 years older than me, yay :D) Plus personally I think Four as a character is pretty perfect, just my kind of man, not 100% perfect but close. Also, Kate Winslet. One of the human beings i admire in a way. It seems like she never let Hollywood mess with her head. I can’t wait to see her in a role I love to hate.

Bottomline: Bring on Divergent and make it quick!

Sticking with viewable things:

I just finished rewatching True Blood and it is still one of my staple shows. Do you have that too where you watch certain shows at certain times of the year and I don’t mean seasonal shows/movies like Nightmare before Christmas or A Christmas Carol? For me, the second it gets hot and summery outside I pop in True Blood and towards Christmas it’s The Tudors and The Borgias over Easter and Supernatural in the fall.

I don’t even know why I mentioned that. Either way, I’ve been watching True Blood and I just love the atmosphere and I love the characters and those I don’t love I love to hate. Whenever I return to Bon Temps it’s like meeting old friends again: Sookie, struggling with her own humanity, kind but a force to be reckoned with; Tara, bloody and broken Tara, that despite temporary exhaustion never fully gives up on life; Eric, ancient, beautiful, fierce and much more loving than he gives himself credit for; my darling Pam, no nonsense, unwillingly decent and oh-so-cool. Alcide is like good coffee: hot, strong and sweet, Jason, living proof that you don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to have a bright beautiful heart, ugh, I could go on forever! True Blood and Charlain Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse-series have a special place in my heart and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

An ongoing re-watch Hawaii Five-0 at the moment. I turned my boyfriend on to it and now we watch a couple of eps every sunday. I had almost forgotten how beautifully smart and witty the first season was, too bad they lost a lot of that steam in the second and third season. Here’s to hoping the fourth will be better but I am afraid I highly doubt that.

My current read (as displayed in that nifty little goodreads widget, feel free to follow me there if you like) is Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. I’m only roughly 100 pages in and it is beautiful. It is set in Oxford, takes place mostly in a library at the moment (*swoon) and the mc Diana Bishop, herself a witch refusing to use her powers, has found an ancient manuscript that might turn the supernatural world upside down. Always watching out for her is vampire Matthew Clairmont, he seems nice but true to vampire lore he has an air of danger and an edge to him.

This book is not YA. Harkness is a historian and you can clearly detect the scientist in the way she writes. She is very precise in her articulation without being boring. I quite click with the academic setting and Diana, constantly studying and lost in her books. I find myself in her. I can’t wait to see how this develops. This is another one where I just love the atmosphere.

Music-wise, the new album of one of my favorite German bands has hit the shelves and it has hit with quite a thud: Saltatio Mortis’ Das schwarze IXI has officially entered the German MediaControl charts on number 1 *happy dance.

Saltatio Mortis is a so-called medieval metal band, meaning they play metal with music instruments that were known in the Middle Ages and Renaissance as well. One thing that I always loved about them is that the lyrics are very socio-critical. They have a way of putting the wrongs and injustice of our society in the limelight. Plain and simple. No embellishments.

I am still in the process of warming up to the album but I have already spotted a couple of tracks that I love. I might write a review on it once my opinion has fully formed.

Now that I have successfully bored you out of your skull let’s end with something very important.

Well, ish.

Wentworth Miller has come out as gay and in the best way possible: By criticizing the Russian government. Kindly and calmly as is his way, but firmly.

Wentworth Miller is something like my spirit animal (he doesn’t know that or me but that’s okay): He studied English Lit (like me), loves the Brontes (like me) and was raised with books and classical music (like me). Also he once said he can lose an entire week end on a tv show (d’uh, like me). Long story short: I love him, and I look up to him. Without having any right to it I am proud of him. From being great on Prison Break and Law and Order:SVU he moved on to being the writer of a blacklisted screen play that was turned into a movie by a highly acclaimed director and with a great cast, more screen plays will follow.

The situation for LGBT people in Russia is terrifying at the moment. The government more or less okayed discrimination and persecution of LGBT people resulting in people being hunted down and beaten to death by an angry mob.

Wait what century is this? The 21st? WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK RUSSIA!?

A big part of Europe is accepting gay partnerships, Germany is currently working on full legal marriage equality, even America is coming around and Russia drops back into the time of the witch hunts, how embarrassing for them.

It is so sad that I still have to spell that out: Skin color, religious or sexual orientation makes no difference: HUMAN IS HUMAN! We are all equal. Period. We all deserve to be loved and find happiness.

What gives me hope are the protests that are going on at the moment, where the Dutch government decided to fly the rainbow flag on all official buildings during the time of the Putin visit. In Stockholm people painted the zebra crossing in front of the Russian embassy in rainbow colors and during the athletics world cup in Moscow a few weeks back two russian athletes kissed during the medal ceremony to protest. And now more voices are added to this protest. Wentworth’s coming out made a wave, as he had hoped I guess. And I’m glad. And proud of him.