24 Books and Movies I love since I’m turning 24

Hi everybody! As of today, I’m officially 24! I know it’s not a milestone birthday or anything like that but every year is worth celebrating in my opinion. In life update new, I finally got my own dog. Her name is Quinn and she is a five year old shih tzu. I’m a proud dog mom as she has already made so much progress in just a few days. It has definitely improved this year vastly already. I decided to give you all a list of some of my favorite books and movies that I have discovered over my lifetime thus far. I may have reviewed some of these already so feel free to check them out.

24 Books I still love after all this time (series and standalones included):

  • The Harry Potter series (I won’t be giving the author credit because you know who she is and I don’t agree with her views but the books are still close to my heart).
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Circe is a great book too)
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • The Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin
  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amar El-Mohtar
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Illiad by Homer
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi

24 Movies I love and that I think everyone should watch:

  • The Dark Knight (dir. Christoper Nolan)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dir. The Russo Brothers)
  • The Princess Bride (dir. Rob Reiner)
  • Jurassic Park (dir. Steven Spielberg)
  • Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn (dir. Cathy Yan)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (dir Joel Schumacher)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (dir. JJ Abrams)
  • The Lord of the Rings series (dir. Peter Jackson)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (dir. Alfonso Cuaron) (this one is just my favorite out of the series but I love them all)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (dir. Gareth Edwards)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (dir. The Russo Brothers)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (dir. Tim Burton)
  • Heathers (dir. Michael Lehmann)
  • Spirited Away (dir. Hayao Myazaki)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman)
  • Inception (dir. Christoper Nolan)
  • Shutter Island (dir. Martin Scorsese)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (dir. Steven Spielberg)
  • Skyfall (dir. Sam Mendes)
  • A Knight’s Tale (dir. Brian Helgeland)
  • Doctor Strange (dir. Scott Derrickson)
  • Wonder Woman (dir. Patty Jenkins)
  • Venom (dir. Ruben Fleischer)
  • Interview with the Vampire (dir. Neil Jordan)

A kingdom, or this?: Reviewing Captive Prince (Book 1 in the Captive Prince trilogy) by C.S. Pascat

Hello everybody! I’m back and in an incredibly pessimistic mood, which is why I needed to escape into fiction again. I have read this book previously, but in the form of an e-book so I feel like I couldn’t properly absorb what was happening. I don’t know if anyone else feels that way about e-books, or if it just me. The Barnes and Nobles by me re-opened recently and this was my celebratory purchase. Time to talk about the Captive Prince.

Damen had everything as the legendary warrior prince, until his brother took the throne. He strips Damen of his identity and sends him off to Vere to be a pleasure slave, which has long been an enemy to his home country of Akeilos. While there, Damen learns that he will serve Prince Laurent, who is just as beautiful as he is deadly and cunning. Damen quickly learns of the danger that lies beneath the glamor of the Veretian court, meaning he has to hide his identity and make unlikely allies, or he faces a deadly end.

I realize that this book is rather controversial in its subject matter and not because of the Male/Male romance. For those of you who are not familiar with this novel, it does contain graphic sexual violence within the context of a society where slavery is commonplace. Maybe this does not shock me as much because I studied Rome and this reminded me quite a bit of Rome. Obviously, this isn’t to justify it and we have a main character, Damen, who is in the same mindset of the reader. This book is more about politics than anything, which I thought was the most interesting aspect. It actually has a very Game of Thrones feel to it where every character is trying to navigate through complicated politics in which they are trapped. Nothing can be done simply and that is what makes the novel so interesting. Again, I understand any reservations anyone else might have about the subject matter, but I personally enjoyed it. It was just steamy enough without being gratuitous and it leaves you wanting more. It felt like a reworking of some of the worst tropes that tend to pop up in erotic fiction. It certainly doesn’t feel like mom fiction or fan fiction. Pascat is very mature in the way she handles touchier subjects, while also bringing in some inclusivity in the LGBTQ+ genre of literature. Captive Prince is a unique take on a genre that has often been disregarded for so long.

Warning: The novel does contain moments of torture, graphic sexual violence (including assaults on underage characters), and mentions of blood and gore.

Toss a Coin to Your Witcher: Reviewing The Last Wish (An Introduction to The Witcher) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hello everybody! I am doing better and I hope you all are doing better as well. I just got done re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and felt a little inspired by Uncle Iroh. I made a cup of tea and hunkered down with a good book. In this case, I was inspired by my newest Netflix obsession, The Witcher. Now, I am really not much of a gamer so I can’t speak to the video game but (obviously) I am a reader who has been lacking in the fantasy series department for a while. I may have finally filled the hole in my heart left behind by Game of Thrones.

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher, a fighter who is skilled in magic and murder. Before hearing a call to destiny, Geralt must traverse across the country and battle dangerous monsters in this series of short stories.

I apologize now for the vague summary but it took me a minute to realize that this novel is not the first book in the series, but an introduction to the actual series. I found this to be the most interesting aspect of the novel and one of the most enjoyable. I like the way Sapkowski eases you as the reader into the world as, sometimes, adult fantasy can be rather jarring with its levels of violence and sex. While there is violence and sex in the novel, it didn’t feel gratuitous. It also didn’t feel like the story had to stop for violence or sex. There was still plenty of room for Geralt’s character development as well as interesting world building. I also thoroughly enjoyed the dry and understated humor that was sprinkled throughout the writing. Overall, I enjoyed this first step into The Witcher series and I absolutely bought the first novel before I even finished this one. (Also the Netflix series is fairly faithful, if you are interested.)

Power Has Its Price: Reviewing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Hi everybody! I hope a lot of you are at least seeing some improvement in every day life. I’m from the US so I don’t have many positive things to say at this exact moment. It felt very serendipitous that the prequel to The Hunger Games be released now. I had almost forgotten it was coming out this year until I saw the display at the store where I work. Of course, I bought a copy immediately. In my opinion, The Hunger Games trilogy still holds up as I read it through adult eyes. Now, let’s relive our pre-teen/teen glory days as we talk about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

As the tenth annual Hunger Games approaches, a young Coriolanus Snow is desperate to restore his once great family name to glory. When he’s given the opportunity to be a mentor for the Hunger Games, he realizes the odds are stacked against him as he must face his better prepared classmates. His initial anger with being tasked to mentor the tribute from District 12 turns into an opportunity when he meets the enigmatic, charming, and spontaneous Lucy Gray Baird. With a new sense of hope, Coriolanus must make sure that Lucy Gray survives the dangers of the arena, while he tries to survive the dangers outside of the arena.

Like many fans of the original trilogy, I was nervous at the idea of a prequel coming out so many years later. I, however, quickly became swept up in the world of Panem once again. Coriolanus Snow is an interesting character study, given the impression we have of him from the original trilogy. The novel presents an interesting dilemma as it shows someone who is so close to the edge of compassion for the reader, but still manages to be unlikeable. He has an almost similar origin story to Katniss, but with a different approach to the systems that have been used to oppress a population. Some work against it from the outside, while others work for it from the inside. The world of Panem was still just as familiar, but Collins adds a level of uncertainty as the Hunger Games are still in its infancy in this novel. I found this to be a very compelling read with the same no-holds barred level of violence and brutal honesty from the trilogy. I would say that fans of The Hunger Games will find this an interesting addition that offers an even more complex look at the dystopia of Panem.

What we do here echoes in eternity: Reviewing The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

Hi again everyone! I hope you all are still doing well. Maybe you’re doing better than before. I can say that I have experienced some improvements in my life, including being able to finish books quicker than before. Lately, I’ve been finding myself reading more books about books. I love the meta nature of those stories. Now, let’s talk about The Library of the Unwritten.

As the head librarian of the Unwritten Wing in Hell, it is Claire’s job to maintain and organizing books while also making sure the stories don’t escape from Hell’s neutral space. When a rather stubborn hero escapes from the library, Claire must go on a retrieval mission with her assistant Brevity and an awkward but kind demon named Leto. The mission soon turns into something bigger when they are attacked by a powerful angel named Ramiel, who believes they have the Devil’s Bible. This book could bring about a war between Heaven and Hell. It is up to Claire and her friends to find the book before Heaven and Hell begin their war with Earth as the battle ground.

This book was a random pick off the shelf for me and I had put it off for a bit. I must say, though, that this was a delightful read. The world of the book is so unique and an interesting way to view novels, written and unwritten. The novel has a nice, snarky sense of humor about it that balanced out with the heavier, more emotional moments. What I enjoyed the most, though, is how well-rounded and dynamic the characters were. Everyone had a satisfying arc, which I feel is rather rare at times. The Library of the Unwritten is a great fantasy novel that I found to be quite charming and endearing. I have a feeling other readers and authors alike will find enjoyment in this book.

Look Beneath the Surface: Reviewing The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal

Hi everyone! I’m back sooner than ever with another book review. It has been a while since I read a book in day. I haven’t done that since I was a kid. Thankfully, I found the perfect book to breeze through. In undergrad, I discovered Good Mythical Morning and it has been part of my morning routine ever since. I watch way too much Youtube, by the way. When I saw Rhett and Link were coming out with a novel (and a mystery one at that) I was pretty excited. Normally I am rather hesitant with debut novels but I am always willing to give them a chance and I was glad I gave this one a chance. Now, let’s talk about it.

Bleak Creek is a quaint little Southern town where incoming freshman, Rex McClendon and Lief Nelson spend their days trying to film their magnum opus, PolterDog. With the help of their friend, Alicia, the boy are determined to make history with their film. After an accident happens while filming during the church barbecue, Alicia is sent off to the infamous Whitewood reform school. Rex and Leif decide to take in upon themselves by teaming up with Janine, a film student looking to film her own documentary. As the group investigates, they begin to uncover the dark secrets that lie beneath the unassuming town of Bleak Creek, one that may put their lives in danger.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading this novel but I was certainly (pleasantly) surprised by what I got. The novel is way darker than I assumed, with plenty of twists that kept me reading onward. The town of Bleak Creek feels perfectly real as well as shockingly terrifying. There were parts were my jaw dropped from how dark the book became but that was the best part. The novel also had just the right amount of nostalgia that didn’t overpower the scarier elements. It definitely filled the Stranger Things void in my life. You don’t have to be a fan of Good Mythical Morning, either, to enjoy this book. It was a swift read with plenty of twist, turns, and shocks to keep me on the edge of my seat.

Warning: There are instances of blood and violence. It’s pretty PG – 13, though.

My Favorite (Cancelled) TV shows and some post-semester thoughts

Hi everyone! I am truly and officially done with my semester. I had to wrap up some grading and deal with some rather…angry students. That was honestly the most frustrating part. Email doesn’t allow for proper communication because you obviously can’t read tone through an email. It was hard, to say the least. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one dealing with it so it felt good to be in similar company. I can honestly say that I did not enjoy my first time teaching a class on my own. I have higher hopes for the next time I teach, though. I’m sure many of you have similar frustrations and just need a break. That’s why I’m giving you my list of favorite tv shows that were sadly cancelled before their time. To clarify, I’m talking about tv shows that were cancelled after a season or two and not shows that had a proper series finale. I figured some of you might not want to commit to an ongoing tv show so here’s some that require little commitment and are still satisfying to watch.

Firefly – Let’s start with one of the most famous cancelled tv shows. Firefly is such a unique sci-fi show as it combines the gritty and atmospheric feel of a Western with the futuristic tech of science fiction. This show only lasted one season and was created by Joss Whedon. It is still a cult classic with a large following. The spin off movie, Serenity, is also fantastic if you are feeling disheartened after finishing this series.

Agent Carter – Marvel may have a great track record with movies, but they haven’t had as much success with tv shows. Agent Carter, though, was definitely a winner. Peggy Carter is a bad-ass icon who kicks ass in every episode. It was a great take on comic book media with a unique twist to it. There was even a musical episode. All of the seasons are currently on Disney Plus if you are going through Marvel withdrawals.

ForeverForever didn’t last long but it will stay in mind..forever (I couldn’t resist). This show was about a doctor who accidentally discovers he is immortal and now works as a mortician for the NYPD. He must solve crimes and try to hide his secret, while also learning why he is immortal. It stars Ioan Gruffud, who you may recognize as Mr. Fantastic from the 2000s movies. It was a charming little show with a great premise as well as it was a crime show (and I am a sucker for a good crime show).

Pushing Daisies – Again, we have another quirky crime show with an element of magical realism. This show is about a pie maker named Ned (played by Lee Pace) who has the ability to bring dead things back to life with a touch, and send them back with another touch. He uses his ability to help solve crimes. Along with that, he brings back his girlfriend and they must navigate their strange new relationship. It’s a charming little show with a sweet romance at the center. It is also just morbid enough without losing its charm.

Sleepy Hollow – And now we have yet another crime show but this one isn’t as…cute. Sleepy Hollow begins with Ichabod Crane coming back to life after being supposedly killed during the American Revolution. He must discover what happened to bring him back by teaming up with a no-nonsense detective as they investigate all of the supernatural happenings in Sleepy Hollow. This was a really great crime show with a supernatural twist. You can find this one on Hulu if you’re interested. (By the way, I would recommend visiting the actual town of Sleepy Hollow. It was so much fun and they really embrace the legend.)

Constantine – Now, I’m making a bit of an exception with this one as the show is cancelled but Constantine the character is very much active in the current DC tv shows. Constantine is great because it’s like Doctor Strange but imagine if Doctor Strange was an alcoholic. I love my underdog, unconventional heroes and John Constantine fits the bill. It had some great visual effects too.

Swamp Thing – This one was a recent cancellation and I talked about it before a previous list of tv shows I enjoy. I am normally not a fan of the monster genre but I was pleasantly surprised by this show. It took something I considered hokey and made it genuinely scary. If you want a good horror show, I would recommend this one.

I hope you enjoy some of the shows on this list. I’m planning on doing another podcast list because I finally have time to dedicate to the fictional audio genres that I’ve been sitting on forever. Stay safe, stay sane, stay healthy.

One Embraces One’s Enemy: Reviewing Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Hello everybody! Again, I hope you are all doing well and still holding together as we all start to realize that quarantine isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds. (Not that anything about this situation is fun. I’m just hoping my sarcasm is clear in text). I am officially done with my semester and my brain is fried. Thankfully, I have time to get to my TBR list. I’m also planning on posting a “boredom” list of random things I have found to keep myself occupied. Before I get that, let’s talk about Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.

Tracker was well-known for his ability to hunt down anyone or anything with his remarkable sense of smell. When he’s hired to track down a nameless boy, he must team up with a shape shifting man only known as Leopard and other misfits. The more Tracker searches for the boy, the more creatures and enemies he runs into who are also after the boy. Now, Tracker is in over his head and he must find the boy and the truth behind his search.

It took me longer than I would like to admit to get through this novel but I was thoroughly immersed the whole time. The narrative voice is so authentic and layered with different characters overlapping each other. The world of the book is so rich and detailed. Some of you might enjoy that this novel has several maps in it. This book is also so infused with mythology that it gives the novel an almost hallucinatory quality (in the best way). It is a truly unique experience reading Black Leopard, Red Wolf. It is definitely a novel you might need to re-read in order to fully absorb the world. I would recommend this if you are a fan of either The Children of Blood and Bone or Game of Thrones. It delivers that epic element that all fantasy novels should.

Warning: The book does contain graphic violence and sexual violence. Please be aware if you are uncomfortable with either of those subjects.

We will make another path: Reviewing A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Hi everybody! I hope everyone is still doing their best to stay safe and sane as we continue forward with lockdown or quarantine or whatever you want to call it. I am a week away from being done with this semester. It’s a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, I’ll have a break from the pressures of grad school and having to deal with online classes. On the other hand, I will be incredibly bored. I still have a stack of books I’m so excited to get through, though. While I wait to be free, I decided to review another book I read this semester. It isn’t what I would choose to read but I am very glad I read it. Here is my review of A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza.

Rafiq and Layla have only wanted what was best for their children, but tragedy drives their family apart. Now, on the day of their eldest daughter’s wedding, they must come to terms with the tragic past that has haunted them. First, they must come to terms with Hadia’s untraditional marriage, then their second daughter Huda’s determination to follow her sister’s path, and finally, they must try to reach out to their youngest and only son Amar, who has been estranged for the last three years. The family must learn to forgive the past in order to create a better future.

Like I said, this was a required novel so normally it is not something I would choose to read so I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. I am even writing my final paper on it. The writing is delicate and doesn’t pressure you to choose any one side as conflict happens. The characters are perfectly imperfect, which makes them feel like real humans. Mirza’s attention to detail within this non-linear novel is what makes this novel so unique. With the main family being Indian and Muslim, it offers a different perspective on tradition and culture. I think it is always important to explore other cultures, especially through literature. Even when Mirza touches on topics that are still rather taboo, like addiction, she handles it beautifully and carefully by offering multiple perspectives. The book is as heart warming as it is heart breaking with such great attention to detail. I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for a good tear jerker with a lovely message.

Rather die than doubt: Reviewing Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Hello everyone! I was finally able to knock a book off my TBR list! As much as I don’t like isolation or quarantine or whatever you want to call it, it gives me a good excuse to lock myself in my room and read to my heart’s content. This book is also one that has been on my radar for quite some time now. It was one of those books I picked up, read the description, and thought “This is right up my alley.” Now let’s talk about Ninth House (not The Ninth House).

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is a survivor. After finding herself in the worst of circumstances, including being the sole survivor a multiple homicide, she is given the chance to join Yale’s freshman class, but this new opportunity comes at a price. Alex is paired up with the charming but arrogant Darlington who is tasked with guiding her through Yale’s secret societies. These societies thrive on magic and are home to many powerful figures. When a girl is murdered and Darlington goes missing, Alex must delve deep into the Eight Houses where she learns of the forbidden magic they use that brings back the dead and preys on the living.

Lately, I have had a fascination with the dark academia genre of novels and Ninth House is a perfect fit for the category. I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of mystery and magic, all wrapped up in the politics of higher education. The main character, Alex, initially annoyed me but she becomes more sympathetic and charming, while still maintaining a deadly presence about her. I enjoyed the way that Bardugo set up her magical world with clear rules among the sensory rich and disturbing acts of magic. This book wasn’t too graphic or gory but did have just enough to make the stakes higher. Overall, I did enjoy this novel and would recommend it, whether you enjoy dark academia or not. (Note: I have not read any of Leigh Bardugo’s books so I can’t make a fair comparison there but let me know if they are worth checking out. I have plenty of time.)

Warning to readers: This novel does contain scenes of sexual assault and violence.