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Books, Movies, and TV in 2015

A couple of quick DISCLAIMERS:

1.  This blog post contains spoilers relating to the Outlander book and TV series; Gilmore Girls; Harry Potter; Pride and Prejudice; A Discovery of Witches; Angel; Castle; and Friends!  :)

2.  These updates don't always encompass everything I'm reading/ watching; I try to stick to the main stuff.  For example I have MANY books in progress right now, but I'm trying to focus on just a few at a time to get them finished.  :)

Last year, as I chronicled my knitting and crochet projects, I often noted what I was reading or watching in those blog entries.  I haven't been doing that this year because I switch back and forth so much, and I've got so many books and TV series going on, I most likely listen to/ read/ watch a little bit of all of them in the course of creating a project.

I adore books, movies, and TV, though, and I wanted to figure out a way to keep track of the stuff I'm reading or watching on this blog.  I've decided to write an update each week of what I'm reading and watching, so I can discuss what is interesting (or not, haha!).  I've been trying to come up with a cutesy, preferably alliterative name for this category of writing, but I haven't been able to.  When in doubt, keep it simple, right?

Each week I will discuss the books I've been reading, the TV series I've been watching, and movies I may have watched.  This post will be longer than usual since its the first one; I promise they won't be this long in the future!

BOOKS:

OUTLANDER SERIES:
One of the big things I'm reading this year is the Outlander series.  I first read books 1-4 many years ago, in my late teens.  My cousin introduced me to these books, and gave me the first three (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager) to read.  I devoured them and was a devoted fan from page one!  The fourth installment, Drums of Autumn, came out during my first years in college, and I vividly remember how excited I was about it (more about this and this specific book in a moment).

When I heard that the TV series was coming out, I was elated, and excited to revisit this series that I had loved so much so many years ago.  I hadn't read any books past Drums of Autumn; I can't say why exactly, except that life got in the way, and I wasn't even aware that more books had been published in the series until a few years ago.  I started rereading in 2013 (I think), and I was stunned at how much of Outlander I remembered.  That is the one I reread the most; it was my favorite, and though I had reread the next two several times as well, I practically had portions of Outlander committed to memory!

Last year I read most of Dragonfly in Amber, and finished it on the first day of this year.  In my late teens/ early 20s, I was a prolific poet, and I drew much of my inspiration from beloved movies, books, and fictional characters.  There were aspects of this novel that totally jumped out at me in memory; things I had completely forgotten about.  Upon rereading them, however, I remembered how strong some of the characters or imagery were for me; stuck in my mind to the point that I had to write poems about them.

When I began Voyager this year, I remembered being angry back when I first read the books.  I was angry that Claire and Jamie had been separated for so long.  Even though its obviously a very necessary plot to device to accelerate the storyline, it really upset my young adult self.  It should be noted here that I get VERY emotionally involved with fictional characters.... that hasn't really changed!  Still, the differences in perspective in reading these books now, in my 30s and as a wife and mother, is so different from reading them as a newly-minted adult/ college student.

Voyager had me pretty riveted; I finished it much faster than DIA (which is not to say that I wasn't riveted by DIA; I had a baby in 2014, and didn't have a lot of time or attention to devote to anything but my family.....hence the slow reading pace!).  I was also super eager to revisit Drums of Autumn, which I had some pretty vivid memories about.  Even though it is the one book in the series I have reread the least amount of times, I had some pretty volatile reactions to it when I read it years ago.

I just finished Drums of Autumn today.  Diana Gabaldon is an incredible storyteller.  Time travel stories can get complicated, and this story has so many interweavings and sub-plots and characters.... it would seem easy for the author to drop a thread or two.  Somehow, though, she doesn't; she manages to keep everything together and weave things into a coherent story.  There are so many moments where something comes to light that she laid the groundwork for in earlier books, and its almost like a revelatory moment.... just brilliant.

Going back to my strong emotional reactions.... this book angered me as well when I was younger.  And though I wouldn't say it angered me now (I'm trying to be better about maintaining some emotional distance from fictional characters; really, I am!  Ha!), I definitely have some strong opinions about it!

First, Brianna is an idiot.  I apologize to Outlander fans everywhere, and Diana Gabaldon herself for saying this, but I must be honest.  And I understand that not every character can be awesome and perfect and amazing.  Idiots can be fantastic plot devices.  I get it.  Still, though, she's a complete moron, and she drives me crazy.  I was probably equally moronic at that age, and hindsight (plus lack of time traveling ability) is affording me a kinder view of myself, but really..... I want to hit Brianna sometimes!  She makes the dumbest decisions, for really stupid reasons, and then when things go horribly wrong (as they always do, thanks to her patented combination of terrible luck and utter lack of common sense), she seems bewildered and then makes even dumber decisions to "rectify" the initial dumb decision (which of course just makes everything worse).  ARGH.  Oh, and she has ZERO ability to communicate with the people around her, which would have avoided many of these horrible outcomes in the first place.  Gah!

I am very curious to see how her character develops further in the series, as I've never read any books past Drums.  I'm curious to see if she evolves, or continues to be an idiot, or if I actually grow to like her character.  You never know, and I'm open to the possibility!

And ROGER!  OMG.  I feel SO sorry for Roger, on so so many levels.  Brianna treats him like crap at every turn, from day one, then gets him beaten up and put in a very dangerous situation and he's hurt and narrowly avoiding death and starving and...... wow.  She has no idea how lucky she is that he still wants to sign up for more of that, because the fact that he does decide to stay with her is beyond me!  He had such a nice life in Oxford; traveling back in time to chase after a fool was, well, foolish!  Again, I am very anxious to see how his character also develops in the next few books.  And I'm a little scared.  I don't know what happens in The Fiery Cross (which I'm about to start), but I saw on DG's website that something horrible happens to Roger.  Now I know DG really enjoys torturing the heck out of her characters, but.... really.... hasn't Roger been through enough?  I am so nervous for him!  I'll just have to wait and see!

It should be noted that the way I am reading these is half-and-half on my Kindle and by listening to the audio books.  I love the Amazon Kindle/ Audible whispersync feature where you can switch back and forth from listening and reading, and they take you right where you left off.  Its awesome; I use this feature ALL the time for my favorite books.  I listen a lot while knitting and crocheting, but sometimes at night when I'm trying to put the baby to sleep, I prefer to read (for obvious reasons).  Also, during particularly riveting points of the book, I will often switch to reading because the narrator never quite goes fast enough for me!  Ha.  The narrator of the Outlander series, Davina Porter, by the way, is absolutely superb.  I really enjoy her performances of these novels.

And OMG I almost forgot!!!  I CRIED when Ian left.  Oh my goodness, I had completely forgotten about that and it was so sad.  Ian is one of my favorite characters, and I love his bond with Jamie.  He is so the son Jamie never had (or never got to raise, more accurately).  I hope he reappears in future novels.  

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE:
This is one of the books I started last year and didn't quite get finished.  I'm aiming for four chapters a week, but sometimes fall a little short depending on how busy life gets!  The edition I'm reading right now is by David Shapard, and is annotated.  Its FANTASTIC!  I don't read ALL of the annotations, but some of them I do and I find them fascinating.  The little historical tidbits give a great deal of insight into the day-to-day life of Regency England, and it really illuminates the story and gives it extra life.

I've read this book many times before and feel like I know the story like the back of my hand, but I never get tired of it.  Right now I'm right at the point where Mr. Collins has made an offer of marriage to Lizzy, which she has refused.  He immediately turns around and then proposes to Charlotte Lucas, to Lizzy's extreme dismay.  Charlotte and Mr. Collins have just left Longbourn, and Lizzy is feeling the loss of her best friend.

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE:
I am reading this along with some friends in one of my Ravelry groups.  Though this is not the first time I'm reading this book, it is the first time I'm reading the British edition.  So far I am LOVING the British editions!  I wish they didn't have to have American versions; that they could just leave it in the original British vernacular, but I have yet to be consulted on such a matter.  Sigh.  I just love the British phrases and words, and it lends such authenticity to the story.

As for the story itself, I never get tired of JKR's brilliance, her beautiful writing, or the brilliant characters she has created.  This is one of my favorite books, and I love Hermione's storyline.  She creates S. P. E. W. in this book, one of the coolest things she does (and there are plenty to choose from!).  Hermione is one of my favorite female characters in all of literature.

I just finished the part where Harry has been chosen as the fourth Triwizard champion, and most of the students at Hogwarts are angry with him.  Many of the Hufflepuffs are wearing their badges that support Cedric, but also say "Potter Stinks!"  Ron is mad and not speaking to Harry, and Harry is just all sorts of upset over the whole situation.  He just had his first encounter with Rita Skeeter after being called out of Potions class, and he's feeling isolated and at the mercy of a situation he doesn't even know how he got swept up in.  I really feel sorry for Harry at this point, and at how frustrating it can be to deal with the futility of trying to get others to see your perspective.

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES:
If you've ever read my blog or tweets or if you know me, you will know how obsessed I am with this book series.  So obsessed that I'm ALWAYS rereading this book.  I think this might be my eleventh or twelfth time?  Anyway, I'm at the part where Matthew and Diana have just arrived in Madison after Satu's attack in France.  Sarah is trying to heal Diana's wounds, and they are just about to begin her magical training.  I love everything about this book, but this is one of my favorite parts.  I totally want to live in that awesome house in Madison, with the ghosts and rooms that grow, and two awesome witchy magical aunts.  

TV:

OUTLANDER:
I'm rewatching this with hubby, as we just got the DVDs and he hasn't seen them yet.  Its so great; they really did an amazing job bringing this story to life.  Jamie and Claire don't really look anything like I envisioned them, but I think they chose the perfect actors to represent them.  This series provides some serious eye candy for those of us who knit and crochet!  The costumes are stunning; the setting sublime; and oh yeah, men in kilts?!?!  'Nuff said!!!

We are only on episode 3 at this point, and its a bit slow going.  This is one series that cannot be on when the children are around, and since hubby gets up very early for work, it affords us with a very teensy weensy slice of time at night to fit in an episode (or sometimes only a half an episode).  Still, we are enjoying it!  Oh, and I love the actor they chose to pick Dougal, too.... he is so perfect.

ANGEL:
 I'm rewatching this series with another one of my Ravelry groups.  I'm only on episode 3 so far, but love it!  Hubby and I are huge Joss Whedon fans.  I love how this show was meant to have more of a darkness to it, an edge; and yet that patented Whedon humor is injected everywhere, bringing lots of light and levity.  Oh, and Cordelia.  How could there not be light and levity with Cordelia?!?!  I really didn't like her much in Buffy; let's face it, she's mean.  But I love how her character changed and evolved in this show, and it really made me love her.  She and Angel have such great chemistry, and they balance each other out perfectly.

I also enjoy these early episodes with Doyle.  He's so funny and quirky and cute; I'm always sad when he goes!

Kate has always kind of annoyed me.  She's such a stereotypical character, and just never struck me as having much depth.

GILMORE GIRLS:
I'm currently rewatching this entire series, and am in season 3.  This is another show I know so well, I could probably recite entire episodes by memory!  I just finished the Thanksgiving episode which is possibly on my list of Top 10 FAVORITE GG episodes.  Its SO funny!!!  I could watch the scenes with Sookie over and over.  One of the best Sookie lines EVER is in this episode; towards the end, when her guests have been deep frying everything they can get their hands on, and she's worked her way through several beers and a pitcher of margaritas.  Rory and Lorelai stop by to say hi, and she's telling them about her night, and then says, "Am I laughing or crying?"  Lorelai says, "laughing", and Sookie replies, "Good."  SO FUNNY!!!!!

I also love the whole Human Kirk/ Cat Kirk storyline.  Kirk is the BEST!!!!  He is so hilarious.  "It's like he derived more power from the water.... and that's when the bulk of the scratching happened."  Or when Lorelai says, "Just try to enjoy your food."  He replies, "I can't taste my food."  Oh man. Kirk is the best.  (Another sidenote:  I love his appearances in Bunheads, also an Amy Sherman-Palladino creation.  And I just had a crazy thought.  What if Amy Sherman-Palladino and Joss Whedon wrote a show together?!?!?!  WOAH!!!!  My mind would probably explode from the sheer awesomeness!!!!!)

And I have a totally different feeling on Jess this time around.  As a rule, I hate all of Rory's boyfriends.  None of them work.  Dean is far too needy (and later, cowardly).  Jess is just too.... Jess (and I can't stand a man who can't communicate, and he really really can't.... not his fault, I know, but annoying nonetheless).  And Logan is a spoiled, entitled brat with an ego the size of his daddy's bank account.  However, with this latest rewatch, I've been considering Rory's boyfriends a lot and decided that Jess was really her best match.  Not now, at this point in the story when they are both so young, of course.  But later on, I would really have wished for them to reconnect and get back together.  He was a match for her intellectually but also on many other levels.  So now I kind of wish she and Jess had worked out.  (Sidenote:  I'm reading the Virtual Gilmore Girls season 8 right now, which is fanfic covering what happens after season 7 of the TV show, and I'm hoping maybe Jess and Rory will get back together there!  I'll keep you posted!)

There are so many brilliantly funny moments in this series; I couldn't possibly cover them all.  One that stuck with me this time around though, is from season 2 when Luke and Jess are looking for an apartment.  Luke calls up Lorelai to complain about it, and says, "And what's with the 62 1/2?  If 62 is taken, just MOVE ON TO 63!!!!!!!!!!"  Hahaha!

CASTLE:
This is SO not a genre of television that I normally enjoy.  Crime dramas and mysteries do not enthrall me at all; you will never catch me watching all those NCIS shows.  This one really appealed to me, though, because I LOVE Nathan Fillion.  Or "Mal" as I will always call him!  Did I mention I'm a Whedonite?!?!?!  Anyway, I started watching this show because of him, fully expecting to hate the show.  I ended up loving it.  Hubby and I are currently rewatching the whole series (we haven't seen seasons 5 or 6 yet, so we're getting caught up!), and we are about halfway through season 3.  We just saw the episode where the case of Beckett's mother's death got reopened.  This was an AWESOME episode!  Esposito and Ryan get kidnapped and tortured, and Castle somehow manages to save the day.  He's so funny.  (Sidenote:  one of my favorite things about this show are the Firefly references!  In a recent episode they are chasing down some Chinese bad guys, and Castle all of a sudden starts speaking in Chinese.  Beckett says, "how do you know Chinese?  Summer abroad?"  And he replies, "No, just a TV show I used to love."  HAHAHAHA!!!!  Also, sidenote to my sidenote:  don't you just love my sidenotes?)

FRIENDS:
This is kind of a weird one for me; not my usual fare.  Don't get me wrong; back in the 1990s, I was a teenager, and as obsessed with this show as everyone else was.  I totally aspired to be a hot 20-something with a group of hot friends working in a coffee shop and going on dates and enjoying funny shenanigans.  However, this isn't one of my favorite shows, and I've only rewatched the entire series once (several years ago when I borrowed the DVDs from a friend).  Now that its on Netflix, though, nostalgia hit, and I've been watching eps here and there when I'm knitting.  Also, when I was in the hospital last year having my fourth child, I watched some Friends reruns and was really struck by how long ago that was.  It doesn't feel like it, but hairstyles and clothes and things are already so different.  And cell phones.... at the beginning of the series, nobody has cell phones!  How quickly that has changed.

The first few episodes of season 1 are not super funny; it took them awhile to hit their stride, but they get funnier as you go along.  They find their niche quickly.  You can see some of the stand-out talent early on, though.  David Schwimmer's character, Ross, is one of those.  He has brilliant comedic timing and is so good at being funny.  I also loved the scene where Chandler is trying to break up with Janice, and he drinks like ten espressos (oh.... and was this the start of coffee culture?!?!?), and he spazzes out in the coffee shop with Phoebe.  I LOL'ed on that one!  :)

Anyway, I'm enjoying rewatching these, and it brings back so many memories from my teen years.

MOVIES:

JACK AND JILL:
Oh, Lordy.  This is two hours of my life that I will never get back!  Now listen; I enjoy Adam Sandler and SNL-type humor.  But this was just.... way beyond the realm of acceptability.  First of all, there was just TOO MUCH over-the-top humor that a 5th grade boy would really enjoy.  Secondly, the entire film felt like an exercise in product placement and absurd celebrity cameos (Jared the Subway guy!?!?!?  REALLY!?!?!?).  I spent the entire film scratching my head, trying to figure out how and why Al Pacino would EVER have agreed to do this film.  I came up with some pretty good fantastical stories (like maybe Al was at a restaurant one night, and wouldn't you know Adam Sandler got seated near him, and Al choked on his shrimp cocktail, and Adam came to the rescue and administered the Heimlich maneuver thus saving his life, and Al said, "how can I ever repay you?"  And Adam pulled the script for Jack and Jill out of his jacket pocket and said, "Do this film" and Al agreed), but there just is no earthly reason why this film should ever have been made.  Sorry to be so harsh, but there it is!

FUNNY FACE:
I hate to be such a johnny-come-lately, but I had actually never seen this movie before.  I love old movies, so don't ask me why it took so long!  Anyway, I loved it.  Fred Astaire will always be one of my favorites.  He's got some kind of special charm about him; he's so adorable.  I love the scene in the beginning in the bookstore, where Audrey is trying to protect her books from the onslaught of models.  I love the quirky 1950s dance choreography in the Parisian bar.  I know this is a very famous scene, and I can see why.  Its brilliant.  The songs are great, the whole movie is just FUN.  I will definitely be watching this one again!

AND THAT'S IT FOR NOW!
Again, I promise not to be so lengthy in future posts;  just had some background work to lay here.  I'll give updates on where I'm at each week, and hopefully it will be fun!  We just got Mockingjay Part 1, which we will hopefully get to watch this weekend.... so stay tuned for that!



Comments

  1. Okay, your idea as to how Al Pacino got wrangled into being in Jack and Jill nearly made me snort - that is so hilarious (and it sounds to me like that would have made a better movie than Jack and Jill!!!!)! :D I love your blog, Jilly - long or short posts, doesn't matter - keep 'em coming! :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haha! I came up with some pretty funny scenarios. And I'm convinced ONE of them must be true!!! ;) Anyway, thank you so much for your kind words! I am glad I have a place to write about all the things I love, and all my dysfunctional relationships with fictional characters! LOL!

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