[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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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.

Sunday Round Up #2: Deep Darkness and Brilliant Highlights

Oh you guys, this week this week…

The darkness was 30 hours of work in 3 days, insomnia, mental exhaustion and the constant need to balance things out and failing at doing so. Now back to the brilliant highlights and brilliant they were:

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clockwise: Halloween movies, Allegiant, new things, Man of Steel, the Starks

1. Man of Steel finally arrived on my doorstep and it took me two days to watch it because I completely passed out after roughly an hour. Not because it was boring but because I was so bloody tired. Either way I loved the movie when I saw it in the cinema and I loved it upon the second time seeing it as well. Mind you I wasn’t a Superman fan before that movie and I don’t have the background of the comic books and the classic movies but even for someone knowing next to nothing about Superman I found the story understandable and the characters likeable. Some of the fight scenes were a bit long-ish and repetative but I have seen way worse. Bottomline? Loved it, will watch it again, and it is a nice addition for my happily growing collection of comic adaptations.

2. Halloween brought a much needed evening of rest. Over on the sisterhood blog I posted my essence Superheroes haul and then I closed shop in favor of watching The Nightmare before Christmas (classic) and Blood Creek, eating candy and melting my Witches Brew Yankee Candle Tart. Witches Brew is just beautiful. When melted it smells like that classic esoteric/ new age scent, you know, patchouli and musk and other plant extracts but it smelled very natural and not pungent at all. The scent was still perceptible days after melting the tart, even this morning I could still sense it.
I am not the best person to describe or rate horror movies simply because they usually don’t scare me. Blood Creek wasn’t bad for what it was. Henry Cavill, Dominic Purcell and Michael Fassbender provided the eye candy, the story was maybe a bit hole-y but again I have seen worse and at times it actually was a bit creepy (more on the story in my Amazon haul which is scheduled to go online tomorrow). Not much to say on The Nightmare before Christmas. I love the stop motion, the music and the design of this movie, I am a major Tim Burton fan, it is just a classic, right? Right!

3. I finished Allegiant by Veronica Roth this week. I loved the whole series from Divergent to Insurgent to this last installment. I will not give anything away in case you still want to read it, but the ending surprised me and I thought it was very brave. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book it was fast paced and very consistend which I liked. This last book in the series was written  from two different points of view and you could actually tell them apart because Roth made the effort to tweak the language to match the characters. Well done!

4. I got spoilt rotten yesterday! Not only did I get to spend much needed girl time with my darling Snowhoney (we don’t get to see nearly enough of each other but work and school and work just get in the way). That alone would have made me very happy, but she also brought me the most amazing presents, some from her stay in London and one from Ring Con. Amongst them the awesome Lasting Finish by Kate Moss lipstick in 107 the most perfect deep dark matte red that I had been eyeing longingly for months (they never came out here in Germany), Coral Britannia from the new expanded Moisture Renew line (my favorite lipstick formula ever!), the Collection Lasting Finish concealer and a brilliant No7 Lip Kit (blogpost on those is scheduled for friday). From Ring Con I got a beautiful picture with Jon Snow, Robb and Catelyn Stark on it. I need to go find a frame for this, it is just to lovely to go on my wall unprotected.
Along all of this goodness I found a Catrice limited edition eyeshadow duo that I had been ogling for a long time on sale for 1.80€. I am wearing it today and it is lovely. It consists of a pale silvery pink shimmer shadow and a muted plum matte. The plum is relatively sheer but it provides the nicest dusting to darken the outer corner and crease. I’m sure I will wear this a lot.

Today I decided to take it slow, prepare some blogposts for you, clean, do laundry and just get ready for the next week. So far it is going quite well (yay me ;D ) I hope you are all having a lovely sunday, too!