Happy New Year!
This post is going up a bit later than I intended due to sudden back spasms, but I’m back and ready to recap the last month of 2019! I’ve also decided to include the movies I watched in December. That way I can finish talking about 2019 sooner and move on to 2020!
Tomorrow and (hopefully) Sunday are when I’ll be posting my Worst/Most Disappointing Books of 2019 and Best Books of 2019. And then it’s on to 2020! But let’s back up a second and talk about the books I read in December.
Over the course of the holiday season, I managed to read three novels, one short story anthology, and seven graphic novels. I was also in a huge Star Wars mood, so eight of those are Star Wars-related. In total, I read eleven books.
The quality of these books was overall very good. I only rated one graphic novel 3 stars and one 2 stars; everything else got 4 or 5 stars. So I had a pretty great reading month. Now let’s dive on in!
Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.
At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi— a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother— it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.
Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house— despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.
One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.
This is probably one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. I really love the gothic horror vibe of the story. I’m not a big thriller reader, but this one really impressed me.
That said, I have mixed feelings about the twist. This is mainly because it totally changes the vibe of the story. It’s due to that that I lowered my rating by a star. But otherwise, great debut! Check out my review!
In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born to women who’d previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, “To save the world.”
These seven children form the Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers. Their first adventure at the age of ten pits them against an erratic and deadly Eiffel Tower, piloted by the fearsome zombie-robot Gustave Eiffel. Nearly a decade later, the team disbands, but when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.
So… I kind of hated this. I love the Netflix adaptation, but it’s clear the show took more time to develop the characters and plot than Way does here. None of these characters are likable and conflicts are resolved way too easily. I also really hate the art style, but that’s a personal preference. This is definitely one of those rare occasions where the adaptation is better than the source material. The only reason I gave it more than one star is because of what I already liked from the show.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues— a bee, a key, and a sword— that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians— it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.
Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose—in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
What a wonderful, magical book! I don’t even know how to explain my love for this story. It’s like it’s a part of my soul that has always been there, but I’ve only just discovered. The writing is lyrical and beautiful. These characters are unique and lovable. With her sophomore novel, Morgenstern has cemented one thing: I love portal fantasies. Absolutely phenomenal! Check out my review!
Doctor Aphra, Vol. 2: Doctor Aphra and the Enormous Profit by Kieron Gillen, Kev Walker, & Airi Kamiyama
Aphra’s back with a brand-new plan that’s guaranteed to pay! There’s just one teensy problem… it involves surrounding herself with some of the galaxy’s biggest baddies. And they don’t like the not-so-good doctor’s tricks! Her mission to make quick credits by auctioning off an ancient Jedi artifact will start well… and end badly. And that’s just when a dark figure from Aphra’s past decides to make an appearance! Plus, a solo focus on Aphra’s Wookiee shadow, Black Krrsantan! Find out why this beastly bounty hunter is as frightening as they say… and then some!
I’m so glad I picked this series back up! I love my creepy little lesbian genius! This volume was a classic Aphra story.
Aphra is used to being in way over her head – but this time she’s not alone! Who else is caught up in her latest misadventure? Let’s hope they’re friendly… otherwise Aphra may have finally bitten off more than she can chew!
I didn’t like this one as much as the previous volumes, but I do appreciate the F/F relationship and how clever Aphra is.
Doctor Aphra is behind bars. Again. But this time she’s in Imperial custody, strapped to an explosive transmitter synced to a single hubdroid. Take one step too far? Kablooey! So what happens when Aphra’s captors send her hubdroid right into the middle of a war zone? And what’s this rumor about the prison being haunted? Meanwhile, Aphra’s got information— and it’s information the Rebellion wants. But how far are they willing to go— and who are they willing to recruit— to get it? Surely even our lovable rogue archaeologist can’t find a way to make things even worse, right? Wrong. Because Aphra’s current flame, Inspector Tolvan, and Aphra’s ex, Sana Starros, are about to meet. Awkward. But that’s nothing compared to a certain tall, dark shadow about to fall across her.
This installment feels weirdly cyclical. Aphra’s character development is dubious here. Still, I’m excited to continue on with the series.
Doctor Aphra— worst among equals! On the run from the law in a massive alien metropolis, Aphra has ten hours to cross the hostile megacity before the bomb implanted in her throat explodes. And don’t forget the pack of bounty hunters and crazed cops that are on her tail. No big deal, right? But there’s one more wrinkle: Aphra can’t stray more than a few paces from her companion without activating the bomb’s proximity alert and blowing both of them up. And that companion is Triple-Zero— a sadistic, murderous droid who’s more interested in Aphra’s death than in playing nice! With undead hunters, monster trappers and the foulest divisions of the Imperial war machine between Aphra and salvation, is this the end for the galaxy’s foremost amoral archaeologist?
It took a couple issues for this volume to grow on me, but grow on me it did. I’m always a sucker for enemies forced to work together trope.
This is the Age of Star Wars— an epic series of adventures that unite your favorite characters from all three trilogies! Explore untold tales of the greatest heroes of the Resistance. Finn starts to question the First Order as he is put on infestation control on Starkiller Base. Poe Dameron fancies himself the best pilot there is, but after a New Republic protocol droid is stolen he may just meet his better! Trapped in an asteroid field, Poe will have to learn a thing or two from this mysterious pilot if he wants to survive. Rey, Chewie and R2-D2 start their journey to find Luke Skywalker, but mechanical issues force them to land on the junkyard planet the Necropolis. Plus: Rose Tico, Admiral Holdo, Maz Kanata and BB-8!
I loved getting more of Finn and Rose’s backstories! Hell, Maz and Holdo too. This was a fun comic!
This is the Age of Star Wars— an epic series of adventures that unites your favorite characters from all three trilogies! The First Order takes center stage! As Captain Phasma leads an attack on the iron planet Demir, a young Stormtrooper looks to follow in Phasma’s footsteps. But can she follow the First Order captain’s merciless ways? General Hux has always been looked down upon, but Kylo Ren’s fate will be in Hux’s hands when a sabotaged shuttle crash-lands on an unknown planet! Meanwhile, can Kylo Ren ever escape the long shadow cast by his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker— or will he succeed where Darth Vader failed? And as Supreme Leader Snoke begins Ren’s training, will the sadistic master break his tormented protégé?
I didn’t like this one as much as Heroes, but that’s probably because I don’t care as much about these characters.
In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope, this unique anthology features Star Wars stories by bestselling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from Star Wars’ literary history. Over 40 authors have lent their unique vision to 40 “scenes,” each retelling a different moment from the original Star Wars film, but with a twist: every scene is told from the point of view of a seemingly minor character. Whether it’s the X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star or the stormtroopers who never did find the droids they were looking for, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View places the classic movie in a whole new perspective celebrates the influence and legacy of the unparalleled cultural phenomenon, Star Wars.
This was a fun collection! I’m so glad I finally read it. That said, most of the stories were fine but nothing special. They were good and helped flesh out the story of A New Hope, but nothing I’d read again. The only stand-out (and this my favorite story) is “The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper” by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction. I also felt too much time was spent in Mos Eisley and during the Battle of Yavin. There are so many stories that take place during those scenes, it got a little tired and stale. But otherwise, I had a good time with this!
The Larkin family isn’t just lucky— they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.
But wrecks seem to run in the family. Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.
Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece— the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.
She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.
I recently saw someone describe this book as a warm hug and nothing could be more apt. This is a lovely, heart-warming story. Drake manages to tackle family, love, and mental illness. And the F/F relationship? Adorable! I’m so glad the last book I read this year was this good.
What did you read in December? Have you read any of these books? Let’s discuss in the comments!
So, the quality o the movies I watched was more of a mixed bag. I rewatched three movies, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, and Frosty the Snowman (my favorite Christmas movie.) I also watched seven movies for the first time. Since I already talked about Ready or Not, Promare, and The Rise of Skywalker on my 2019 favorites list, I won’t be discussing them again. I’m also not going to discuss movies I rewatched.
No, today I’m focusing on movies I watched for the first time and haven’t already discussed. That way you guys don’t have to suffer through repeat content. And so, here are the four movies I have left to discuss!
A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish
Despite her vain stepmother and mean stepsisters, an aspiring singer works as an elf at a Christmas tree lot and finds her own holiday miracle.
I have watched every movie in this franchise, or as I like to call it, the ACSCU (A Cinderella Story Cinematic Universe). Each one has been worse than the last, and this one is no exception. And yet, I think this one is my second favorite (behind the original starring Hilary Duff). Why? Because it knows what it is— a musical Cinderella retelling that takes place during Christmas. It’s campy and doesn’t want to be taken seriously.
Anna of the Apocalypse
A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven— at Christmas— forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.
I chose to watch this movie on a whim because it was free on Amazon Prime. It did not disappoint. It is a musical satire of zombie movies that takes place during Christmas. Unlike A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish, this movie isn’t campy. It’s making a point. You’ll also never be able to prepare yourself for the ending, despite how they foreshadow it.
John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch
A children’s musical comedy special from a man with neither children nor musical ability.
I watch every John Mulaney special, but this one is unique. Instead of being a regular stand-up special, it’s a parody/pastiche of old children’s variety shows. It’s pretty funny, especially the “Music, Music Everywhere!” bit. I don’t love it as much as Mulaney’s regular comedy specials, but it’s still highly amusing.
A small town singer, Ali, moves to the big city for her chance at stardom where she is enchanted by Burlesque, a glamorous nightclub packed with dancers, sizzling music, and an owner in need of a star.
I’m a sucker for cheesy musicals and/or stories about a girl who wants to be a star. This movie is both, as well as a host of other hackneyed plot points. But it stars Christina Aguilera and is a cheesy musical, so I really enjoyed it.
It would’ve been a 10/10 film, but I hated both the love interests. The one we’re supposed to root for forcibly carries Ali back into his apartment after she decides to leave and cheats on his fiancé with her. The one we’re not supposed to root for offers Ali a ride home, and then takes her against her will to his party. If the movie had instead focused on her mother/daughter relationship with Cher’s character Tess, I would’ve loved it.
What movies did you watch in December? Have you seen any of these movies? Let’s discuss in the comments!
I’m so excited for all the exciting new content 2020 will bring! I’m planning a new meme, as well as the return of my Favorite Friday feature! I look forward to spending another year with you!