Friday, February 2, 2018

January Wrap-Up

1st wrap-up post of the year! I'd love to feel more excited about it, but January was kind of a bummer month for reading. Movies were a little better, though, so that helped. I'm hoping this means I had to do a sort of reading detox or something and get all the bad ones out of my system so I can pick up better books next month. *crosses fingers*

Books I Read

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed


Why, whyyy wasn't this better??? It had all the makings of a super good book, but somehow turned out to be a predictable, cliché, boring romance. It wasn't interesting, the stakes weren't high, and the hype that surrounded this book was largely because it handles Islamophobia, but it barely even touched the topic! This book could have been the next The Hate U Give, but it didn't even come close to being that good. The writing wasn't great and the dialogue was awkward. The whole thing just felt super surface level and too easy. If the author had dug a little deeper, it could've been a masterpiece, but it was just fluffy, and not everything in it was supposed to be fluffy. There was a really big focus on Indian culture, which I found to be refreshingly diverse and interesting. It made for great family dynamics and perspectives on how to straddle two cultures. But otherwise? Meh. Read my review HERE.

Everless by Sara Holland


Another hyped up book that fell flat! I had really bad luck in the ARC department, it seems. It had a very cool premise (you can turn your blood into currency and those coins can then be consumed to add years to your life) and I loved the creativity that went into the world building and legends. Ultimately, that's what made the story unique and worth reading, because otherwise it read like any other fantasy. The protagonist was bland and the romance was laughable. Instalove everywhere. The plot twists could have been great, but they were confusing and sloppy in execution. I probably won't read the sequels, but it was entertaining while it lasted and a fresh take on fantasy worlds. Read my review HERE.

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake


Yay for diversity! Yay for bisexual/lesbian rep and interracial couples! The romance in this was so sweet and innocent and addictive. I loved it. The focus on families and mother-daughter relationships was really nice, too, especially since there were so many different kinds of family relationships portrayed in the story. The author handled some tricky topics in the perfect way, which is not easy to do. The negatives for me were: 1. The ending was a little too neat and perfect for the situation the characters were in. It didn't strike me as realistic at all and some truly horrible behavior was excused as "just another mistake." 2. The writing was just okay and 3. The middle kind of dragged.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab


I so, so wanted to like this more than I did, to the point where I found myself saying "this has to be better than I think it is." It seems like every single person on the planet loves this book and Victoria Schwab, but I was underwhelmed. The story started off with a bang, but it went downhill from there. I was under the impression that I was supposed to be rooting for Victor as an antihero, but then he became darker and more villainous. By the time I was around the 50% mark, the plot started dragging. Where before the dual timeline plots were cool and interesting, the flashbacks quickly became repetitive. Sydney and her dog were the only characters I could feel sympathetic toward, but something about the writing style made me very detached from everyone in the story. I loved the premise, but the beginning was way better than the end. At that point, I just wanted to finish reading so I could move on to something else. I also found it strange that this was categorized as adult. Other than the ages of the characters, everything about it read like a YA novel. Maybe I read the wrong Schwab book? Though the favorable Goodreads rating seems to indicate otherwise. Maybe it's just me.

Movies I Watched

"The Family Stone"


A funny story about a quirky family! A lot of the characters turned out to be kind of horrible people and some of the plot twists were predictable, but I enjoyed it otherwise.

"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle"


I didn't expect much out of this movie, but because I had low expectations, it ended up being a lot more entertaining than I thought. I watched it mostly because the trailer was hilarious and the cast was great, but I also liked the nostalgia factor since "Jumanji" was my movie of choice when I was younger whenever I was sick and needed something to distract me. The remake keeps very little of the original "Jumanji" movie, though (basically just the fact that characters get sucked into a game, but also the iconic drumbeat). And, as with any action blockbuster, some things were undeniably cheesy and way too perfect. But hey, I had fun.

"Must Love Dogs"


EXCUSE ME, GOOD SIR, BUT WHERE WERE THE DOGS. They were there for mayyybe 0.8 seconds, but then they were gone. I literally chose this movie over another one because I thought I'd be getting a heck of a lot more dogs than I got. I feel so betrayed. False advertising! Horrible marketing!

(All right, the romance was kind of cute, but also suuuper cheesy. And I mean cheesy even for a rom-com.)

"The Post"


I felt pretty confused for a good chunk of the movie, but you catch on quickly after that. I don't think it's an accident that this movie is coming out now. The timing is excellent. Even though, historically, I knew what would happen, I still felt like I was on the edge of my seat. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep were great, as always. Highly recommend.

"Lady Bird"


I would've given this 5/5 stars if I were just judging it by the first 3/4 of the movie. It has everything that's so wonderful about quirky Indie movies. Saorise Ronan is great at everything (and did a much better job of disguising her accent than she did way back during "The Host") and Laurie Metcalf made a great mean mother. It was really funny, too! However, the ending seemed to come out of nowhere and fell really flat for me. It left a sour taste in my mouth that didn't match the rest of the movie. I was expecting the story to go somewhere it didn't, and the direction it did go felt out of place.

"The Reader"


I wasn't sure what to think about this even hours after I had finished it. Ultimately, I think that was the point. The movie takes an almost dangerously neutral stance on every topic it covered, including some pretty heinous Nazi war crimes. But, as I said before, I think that was the point since it wasn't the kind of movie that told you what to think but instead displayed all the facts in an unbiased manner so the viewer could make up their own mind. The acting was incredible, so I can definitely see what Kate Winslet got an Oscar for her role. There were a lot of touching moments, as well as supremely uncomfortable ones and heartwrenching scenes. I'm not sure how else to describe it, but I would recommend it. It's heavy, though, so save it for a day that isn't already gloomy!

Quotes I Wrote

Me right now trying to pretend like I'm being super productive and enjoying every single minute of the rewriting process:

Sooooo . . . yeah, no quotes to report.

Obsessions I Acquired

"How to Get Away with Murder" - So I may or may not have binged every episode in, like, a week and a half. The details aren't important. What is important to note is that this show is completely and utterly addictive. I did like the first two seasons better than the later ones, but it's still a great show. Somehow I'm not bothered by the fact that almost every single character is unlikable in one way or another. Except for Oliver. Never change, Oliver.

Jesse the Reader's YouTube channel - I discovered Jesse kind of by accident, because I don't usually watch YouTubers, but I got distracted on Twitter by an EpicReads video about upcoming movie adaptations. Jesse was theYouTuber involved and 20 minutes later, I was still watching suggested videos in which he was featured. He's so funny! And his videos are a great reward for getting some homework done since they're usually around six or seven minutes. 

Pictures of the Month 

FINALLY GOT MY LICENSE!!! After one failed attempt, I passed with flying colors the second time. Take that, stupid parallel parking!

Max and I were both finalists in a poetry contest! I somehow ended up snagging the first place prize, which was a great surprise. Here are all the winners posing for a picture.

My family took TJ to see "Something Rotten" for his birthday and we all loved it!
Because every wrap-up post needs a picture of Scout in it.

How was your January?


Sasha Zatz said...

I watched Jumanji too - quite liked it really!

The Magic Violinist said...


It was super fun!

Jimmy said...

I haven't seen any of the movies you saw in January or read any of the books. But in case I haven't reported this yet, I did complete my 2017 New Year's resolution and read the entire Harry Potter series. It took me a few weeks into 2018 to do it, but I did it! As I've reported elsewhere, it was harder to do than I thought, and well, Harry Potter isn't the literary equivalent to my MJ obsession. But I'm glad I did it and I saw the good in it. I think the strength of the series is the "goodness" of the trio. I love their character/integrity and their loyalty to each other. And who wouldn't love Mr. and Mrs. Weasley?

I'm now reading The Underground Railroad and I'm loving it.

If it matters, I remember seeing the original Jumanji and feeling like I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Dr. Mark said...

I'm sorry your reading month wasn't as great as it could have been. I guess when you read as many books as you do, it's going to happen. Here's to a better February!

Your movie month seemed to be a bit better. I had similar thoughts about "The Family Stone," "Lady Bird," and "Jumanji." It's been a while since I've seen "Must Love Dogs," but that sounds about right from what I remember. Between you and Mommy's description of "The Reader" I feel like I need to see it now to understand.

Congrats on the contest and the license! And "Something Rotten" is always a treat. I'm glad we could see it again.

And yes, every post needs a picture of Scout.

The Magic Violinist said...


Yay! Those aren't exactly small books, so that's great you were able to read them all as fast as you did. I totally agree with your assessment of the trio. And the Weasleys are my favorite literary family. :)

I've heard that book is excellent.

The original "Jumanji" was a lot of fun. I don't remember specifics from it, but I remember always liking it.

@Dr. Mark

There's always at least one month each year that's like this. The last book I finished was really good, though, so I'm hoping that marks the end of the bad streak.

It's worth watching sometime if you have the chance. "The Reader," not "Must Love Dogs." :P

Thanks! And me, too.

Of course.

Boquinha said...

Such a bummer to have a lousy reading streak, especially after having had such a good one!

I always enjoy these reviews. Pretty great month, especially for a mid-winter time.

Is that a YouTuber that Max watches, too. That was unexpected in your review!

Boquinha said...

And CONGRATS on getting your license. What a weird journey to get it, eh?

The Magic Violinist said...


It happens sometimes, but I think it's over now!

No, he's not really a mainstream YouTuber, more just popular with book people. I definitely didn't expect to like watching a YouTuber that much, either.


Jimmy said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to comment on that. I'm sorry. I don't want this to sound mean--but you failed your first attempt at your driving test! That makes me so happy! Finally someone that might be a worse driver than me! Keep me posted!

The Magic Violinist said...


Ha, yes, failed the parallel parking the first time around like many of my friends did. Although I'd like to think I'm a pretty good driver besides that. :P Parking is not one of my strengths.

Ivyclad Ideas said...

Uh. It sucks when every book you read fails to make you happy. I had an entire year of books like that in 2017. Here's hoping that it picks up for you in February.

The Magic Violinist said...


Wow, I'd be so frustrated with a whole year of bad books. You're in for a fantastic year of reading if there's any justice in the world!