What’s Up & Adventures – May 2022

Welcome everyone to the May 2022 recap for the What’s Up & Adventures! Honestly, there’s no adventures at this point. My life is very much just getting ready for the new arrival to our family. Of course, there was 2 little things that did happen which was rather fun but most of it was just trying to do a lot of restructure to our home (which I won’t be showing here) including a lot of deep cleaning throughout the weekends. So, as usual, we will start with some little “adventures” and then hop into the What’s Up portion which should be a lot more entertaining, I suppose.

Annual Garden Haul

While we struggled in our decision between whether to have a garden or not this year since we have no idea what to expect in the coming summer months, we eventually decided that we would do a little container garden! Its a step down from the normal which would be to raised garden patches but we figured this would at least be in our face and easy to maintain plus when things get hard, we can add self-watering systems to it. Plus, we chose pepper, patio cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce and leaf lettuce which are all fairly low maintenance from past experience. We did also pick up a rose that has yet to go into the garden. If we do have time though, we are shifting around the berries, notably the blueberries were are getting murdered by these rogue vines that we just can’t seem to get rid of.

Baby Shower

I’m not going to bore everyone with the details of the gifts since we had a little family gathering for the baby shower. The highlight of the day did go to my sister-in-law who made us this beautiful cake from scratch and it took her a whole 4 days to put it together from the cake to the fondant decorations. Its pretty impressive and a lot of appreciation for what she did for us.

WHAT’S UP – MAY 2022

*Highlighted titles are my recommendations*

Books

Currently reading: Nevernight

Not going to lie that reading isn’t on my top priority as I shift back to working from home a little bit more. Plus the wonderful fatigue is back to visit me so its been a little hard to focus. It doesn’t help that I was having a hard time getting into Nevernight so the game plan right now is to put it down and start something else since I wasn’t supposed to but still ended up picking up 2 books as a little treat for myself. I will probably start one of those shortly.

Movies

  • Uncharted (2022, Review)
  • Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979, rewatch)
  • Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020, Review)
  • Only (2019)
  • Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind (1984 rewatch)
  • SPF-18 (2017)
  • Last Moment of Clarity (2010)
  • The Outcasts (2017)
  • Basic Instinct (1992)
  • Kate (2021)
  • A Perfect Pairing (2022)
  • Agatha Christie’s Crooked House (2017)
  • Lie With Me (2005 rewatch, Review)
  • Deep Blue Sea 3 (2020)

May has been a decent movie watching month as I got through some of more unknown titles on the list as I continue trying to work through some non-Netflix films in case they happen to leave. Unfortunately, nothing too exciting for the most part although The Outcasts was a pretty fun discovery for a teen coming of age film whereas Last Moment of Clarity was a real disappointment. I did catch up with 2 films that I’ve been meaning to watch for a while: Basic Instinct and Kate and they were pretty good as well. Much like Deep Blue Sea 3 actually was a silly but still rather entertaining sequel compared to the second film (which isn’t that hard to beat since that one was pretty bad).

TV

  • Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes (2022)
  • Who’s The Murderer (Season 7)
  • Love Death + Robots (Season 3, Review)
  • Who Rules The World (2022)
  • The Circle (Season 4)
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 1, Review)
  • Stranger Things (Season 4 Volume 1)
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 2)

Currently binging: Yes I Do (Season 3), Infinity and Beyond, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 3)

This past month’s TV adventures has been pretty decent. For the most part everything was very entertaining. With the release of Love Death + Robots Season 3, which was a fun ride and over at Movies and Tea, we’ve already released our latest After Hours episode for it HERE, and then the month ending with Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 (2 more episodes to follow on July 1st), its been one heck of a trip. The Circle USA Season 4 was a real trip as well with some fun little twists added in much like Netflix acquiring a really good Chinese drama Who Rules The World that is very much worth the watch. As for a end of month little binge, I started up Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and working through all the seasons. Who knows, it might be a first step before going back to continuing Riverdale next…

Games

  • Unpacking

Gaming was fairly tame. While not listed here, I’ve been playing Crazy Diner on mobile which reminded me of the nostalgic days when I used to play Diner Dash on PC. At the same time, I’m working through the Xbox Game Pass catalogue and finally got around to playing Unpacking. I am trying to get a review up for that on Game Warp’s blog but I really just wanted to see how an unpacking game got all these nominations especially in terms of narrative. While I can see where a lot of it comes from and the deeper meaning to it and it is surprisingly easily to get sucked into it where I finished it in one sitting as its 3-4 hours long, the experience is really not for everyone and probably some people might find it rather pointless perhaps.

That’s it for this month’s Adventures & What’s Up!
What have you been up to?

What’s Up & Adventures – April 2022

Welcome to this month’s wrap up for What’s Up & Adventures for April 2022.

April is always a crazy month work-wise and adding in a lot of the current situation, its been a lot more bonkers as well. Hence the later than usual recap post. While adventures is a little lacking, we have been getting things together in general. Lets take a quick look at some fast updates before we jump into the much more interesting Wha’ts Up portion.

New Season – Movies and Tea Podcast

While I am still working through the reblogs for the previous season, Movies and Tea blog and our podcast platform everywhere is already updating the new season of the podcast as we go through our Quentin Tarantino season. For myself, its a whole new adventure since its almost three quarters first time watches.

You can check it out over at the blog HERE or on most podcast platforms.

Baby Things and Preparation

I have really held off on talking a whole lot about the pregnancy since my little not so hidden announcement at the beginning of the year or last month’s office move/nursery setup. As the nursery starts shaping up and my due date is a little over a month away and the last stretch of preparation shows up, its fine time to talk about something probably not so important but something I always thought was a somewhat memorable moment if and when I had a baby and its buying the first pair of shoes.

Not to mention, one of April’s highlights was going for the second ultrasound as the first one had a minor little abnormality which was all normal in this one. All around good news so far plus seeing the much bigger baby then was a pretty touching moment.

What’s Up – April 2022

Books

  • The Girl On The Train (Review)

Currently reading: Nevernight

Still relatively on track with reading as I try to use the commute to the office to read as much as I can. The Girl on the Train is a pretty decent read. I do hope to watch the adaptations at some point.

As for the currently reading selection, Nevernight has a world building which is pretty extensive but there are some elements that I am finding a little annoying. I am still fairly early in the book so I don’t want to make any judgments quite yet especially since beginning of books are my usual hurdle.

Movies

  • Virus (1999)
  • You vs. Wild: Out Cold (2021)
  • Ronny Chieng: Speakeasy (2022)
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021, Review)
  • Desperado (1995)
  • Knives Out (2019, Review)
  • Rebecca (2020)
  • The Invisible Man (2020, Review)
  • The Sadness (2021, Review)
  • The Crazies (2010, Review)

Movies are still going relatively strong this month. Even the writing is pretty on track as well. The movie reviewing writing slump is slowly going away. With that said, this month was full of fun film discoveries from all genres. Nothing really disappointed too much except one or two. The interactive film You Vs The Wild: Out Cold was kind of a snoozefest but these things are never too long so it helps fill up some time when I couldn’t decide what to watch next. As for recommendations for this month, Knives Out, The Mitchells vs. The Machines and The Invisible. If you don’t mind a massive trigger warning and gut-wrenching gorefest, The Sadness is a decent choice as well.

TV

  • Another Me (2019)
  • Archive 81 (2022, Review)
  • Falling Into Your Smile (2021)
  • Bullsh*t The Game Show (2022)

Currently watching: Yes I Do (Season 3), Who’s The Murderer (Season 7), Gypsy, Falling in Love With a Scientist, Infinity and Beyond

Looking at the TV list, it sure feels like eons ago that I finished Another Me at the first half of the month. Probably because the TV series had a lot of issues for the most part and hit a whole new level of melodrama that started bothering me. The ending did kind of redeem itself a little though. The film version which I have yet to see did get lots of praise so I will hopefully watch it at some point.

With that said, Archive 81 is a cliffhanger ending and cancelled Netflix series which is somewhat of a pity since it is pretty good. Netflix did add Falling Into Your Smile which is a Chinese drama that I had my eye on last year but its from a channel which geo-locked the series when I wanted to watch it. Highly recommend. This might just be the series for me to get back into some form of TV binge for the Chinese dramas since I am so behind on it.

Games

  • Erica
  • Football Game

A light gaming month to say the least. Both of these games were fairly short in content. Erica is an FMV game which is basically an interactive film with 4 endings running at around 2 hours per run. Considering that I didn’t do the run again and did some research and think the ending I got was the good one, I just left it at that. The second game, Football Game is a short point and click game which is a little bit laborous with little favors and tasks which all comes down to a deeper story for the thriller as it came to a rather vague but depressing ending. I will try to get a review up for these two over at Game Warp but its a daunting since game reviews have fallen into the abyss for myself.

Cute Kitty Pic

That’s it for this Adventures and What’s Up for April 2022.
Hope you enjoyed! Let me know if you’ve been up to some exciting stuff.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl On The Train
By: Paula Hawkins

Genre: Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train… – Goodreads

Having reached a decent popularity after its release, The Girl On The Train is compared with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (review), which happens to be one of my favorite books. While its not quite the same level as Gone Girl, the novel embraces the culture of people watching to its full potential and structures its point of view between three main female characters as they each experience different sides of the spectrum. The first being Rachel, the girl on the train who lives a routine life and envies the life of this home and couple that the train she commutes on at the same time everyday, making her reminisce her own marriage before it was broken and when she used to live a few houses down from this couple. As she fantasizes about this couple, the second point of view turns to the woman of the house that she looks at, Megan who ends up missing and the police investigation opens for her which leads Rachel to share what she’s seen that could be suspicious and also approach Megan’s husband, Scott which opens up another can of worms as she ends up peaking the attention of her ex-husband’s current wife, Anna who takes up the third point of view. Through these three, the mystery unfolds as to what happens to Megan and who is involved.

The Girl On The Train is a good premise. Mystery thrillers have been rather plentiful to say the least however this one does build up a pretty decent reveal. The novel is well-written and the structure is good as well as the first person view from three characters helps piece together the novel but still with a good amount of unknowns from both their own characters and the people around them. It helps construct these three very different sort of female characters with their own pasts and different values that end up setting up their relationships around them as well. Alternating between characters and point of views is probably one of my own favorite novel structures and this story fits in it really well. This in turn builds up these three characters so that they each can also have their own interpretation. In this case, Rachel takes a center stage since she is “the girl on the train” which is the book is titled after and her character is by far the one with the most depth which crafts her into a rather realistic sort of character who has plummeted into alcohol after her divorce, making most of her life rather blurry and spiraling downwards with this mystery giving her something new to focus on.

The mystery element of the novel is the highlight of the story as a whole. It builds up and is crafted rather well. The thriller element is definitely there mostly because these characters all are rather imperfect in their own ways, making them feel hard to truly erase them from suspicion for one reason or another. However, the thrill is mostly with all the characters, not just the main three female characters but also the other ones who all feel like its one big cycle of waiting for their stories to unfold to rid them of suspicion. It throws a few twists here and there, some land more unexpectedly than others. The big reveal of who is responsible does end up being rather surprising and a decently executed twist.

Overall, The Girl On The Train is pretty good overall. There are some little bits here and there that feel like it could be polished a little better in execution. Sometimes, reading a slew of characters which was completely imperfect also feels a little hard to completely bond into the book and its events as is the situation here which at times feels a bit tiring as it cycles around some events a little too much. However, the mystery is decently crafted, the structure keeps things moving from one side of the story to the next, even if some of it jumps back and forth in the timeline and the thrilling parts are mostly from character development and a believable yet unpredictable reveal.

Goodreads score: 4/5

My Adventures & What’s Up – March 2022

Weekly Adventures – March 2022

Nothing much happened in March. March basically included a lot of cleaning and tidying. I did work on some of those “2022 Upcoming Plans”, one of which is I’d say 80% done at this point. Since I haven’t been super vocal about being pregnant or sharing my experiences despite the blog slowing down a whole lot. The goal I’m talking about for this year to move the office and set up the nursery is the only thing that is happening as the due date gets closer. However, that’s personal stuff and other than acknowledging it quickly, I don’t want to post up any photos of it since its still a work in progress. My adventures basically has to do with being pregnant which is not exactly exciting to talk about other than my own experience of it. The other part is mostly job and then my constant contemplation on eating healthier and really starting to miss some of the stuff that I’ve cut out of my diet to be healthier. That’s basically it in that department. Oh right, and I also just turned 36! Isn’t that exciting, right?

Now moving on to more fun things like the next part, What’s Up for the past month!

What’s Up – March 2022

Books

  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Review)
  • Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) (Review)

Currently reading: The Magician’s Nephew (re-read), The Girl On The Train

Finally some progress in the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year! It was a slow start but now I’ve been motivated to move from one book to the next and get those reviews up as soon as I finish to keep things rolling. Scarlet was a really fun read. I guess taking a break from YA novels was a great move since I did appreciate the easier reads. The basic system now is alternating between YA books and older books. I should start adding classics to it but it will probably happen later this year.

Movies

  • Time (2021, Review)
  • Ms. Pat: Y’All Wanna Hear Something Crazy (2022)
  • Piranha 3D (2010)
  • American Girl (2021, Review)
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022, Review)
  • Great White (2021)
  • The Bay (2012)
  • Catherine Cohen: The Twist?… She’s Gorgeous (2022)
  • Crawl (2019, rewatch Review)
  • Jaws (1975, rewatch)
  • Secretary (2002)
  • Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)
  • In The Cut (2003)

As Movies and Tea focuses on the next season of production, a lot of these movies are a part of that. In a perfect world, I did want to get at least one more double feature out before this recap post went up but oh well, what can we do? Movies was a decent month. Other than my not so happy outing with Piranha 3D, everything was pretty decent overall. Some was a little disappointing like Great White, a few surprises like The Bay, some exceeded expectations like Time and then some lived up to expectations (in a good way) like Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. It did feel great to catch up with some older films that I have heard great things about like Secretary and finally returned to watch a Meg Ryan film. If you have been here in the earlier days, I really love Meg Ryan and have been wanting to go through all her films but Netflix is usually a bit thin on that front.

TV

  • Love Under The Full Moon (2021)
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 7, 2015)
  • The King’s Avatar (2019 rewatch)
  • Is It Cake? (Season 1, 2022)
  • Light The Night (Part 3, 2022)
  • Bridgerton (Season 2, 2022 Review)
  • Fresh Fried & Crispy (Season 1, 2021)

Currently watching: Who’s The Murderer (Season 7), Another Me

Looking at the list, I didn’t even realize how much TV I have watched. To be fair, I had 4 episodes left of Love Under The Full Moon when I started the month so not exactly hard to complete. The King’s Avatar was a rewatch basically because I think its a great choice as background content but also a great choice as a kickoff for my podcast concept which I promise is going into production soon. A little tired of my own procrastination. Just overthinking the whole thing at this point. Highlight of this month goes to Light The Night Part 3, the anticipation and wait was pretty worth it. Netflix will never see this but if they do, please don’t split a complete series into 3 parts. Its really pointless. Bridgerton Season 2 was also a bingeworthy watch considering I watched it over a weekend.

Games

  • Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master!
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes
  • A Memoir Blue

Currently playing: Bloodroots

Even gaming had a lot of progress. I did play The Drum Master for the longest time but finally stopped when I hit a bug that kept shutting off the game on its own. A Memoir Blue is a one sitting simplistic narrative game that was pretty heartfelt and fits the Game Pass really well. The highlight is definitely House Of Ashes which I streamed shared story mode with my friend BrandelSavage. We do plan to play it again since there seems to be a few other paths to explore. I will also replay it on my own. Maybe on stream, who knows. I do want to start streaming which was also on my goals for this year especially since my office is moved, the only issue is that its now in open space so need to reconsider when to stream.

I guess this whole recap explains why I haven’t had adventures considering how abundant everything is. Its been pretty fun overall. April will be crazy work phase so expect a big drop in the next month although I also have some planning to do for this next month to get things ready in advance as much as I can.

Cute Kitty Pic

That’s it for this Adventures and What’s Up for March 2022!
What have you been up to?

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
By Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Fairy Tale Retelling

Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles.

She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life.

When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own. As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.  – Goodreads

The sequel of Cinder (review) and the second book of The Lunar Chronicles picks up right the events of the first. As Cinder is imprisoned and she tries to make her escape, the story shifts simultaneously to Scarlet, a fairytelling retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in this world when her grandmother, an ex-military pilot, goes missing and she ends up meeting a fighter called Wolf who joins her in her search as they trace down the leads. Much like an escaped Cinder who finds companion with Thorne in search of Scarlet’s grandmother as well. More characters and an expanded storyline fills up Scarlet as these two join paths with some help.

Cinder built up a wonderful foundation and world building in the first book, setting up the politics of the story, the feud between Lunar and Eastern Commonwealth, Queen Levana’s plot against Emperor Kaito and Cinder’s basic character and backstory. The strong foundation sets up a great platform for Scarlet to jump off from as its main story is adding more depth to Cinder as she is the key focus of the entire plot that’s being constructed but still having room to discover more with Scarlet’s side especially since her story doesn’t unfold until they do find her grandmother and know what secrets she hides that links to Princess Selene. The whole progression of events is well-paced and pretty adventurous as the dangers pick up one after the next for both Cinder and Scarlet. Scarlet’s story is pretty good since it uses this world to give a decent twist to Wolf who plays into a genetically modified soldier giving them wolf instincts.

To be fair, these stories are fairly straight forward. On one hand, its good because the world takes precedence and its a very easy read to pick up and get into the story quickly. Even if this is the sequel, its not hard to follow where it picks up from the first book and catch up a little on the context fairly easily. If there was something to criticize, Scarlet’s story does have its moments which feels a little bit like the typical love dramas especially in dialogue when things start to take a more romantic take on her and Wolf. The whole thing gets a little soapy and cringe-y at times. However, the story never does forget that the end game is to set up Scarlet and Cinder’s meeting as they join forces to set up their next step to fight against Queen Levana.

Despite its slight shortcomings, Scarlet is overall a fun read. It sets up a decent platform for the next book as well. As an ending thought, I’m definitely enjoying the world the most as they take these fairy tale retellings and puts them into a sci-fi future. Hopefully, I will be taking a look at Book 3 sooner rather than later.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale (The Handmaid’s Tale #1)
By: Margaret Atwood

Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy

This is the story of Offred, one of the”Handmaids” whose purpose is to breed. In the new social order in which women are told they are being controlled for their own good, Offred lives in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is sent out once a day to the food market, chaperoned; she is is not permitted to read; and she is hoping the commander makes her pregnant, because if not she’ll be sent to a toxic work camp, or end up as a sex slave in Jezebel’s. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, and a husband and a child. But all of that is gone now… everything has changed. – Goodreads

There’s no doubt that I once bought this novel at the TV series height and wanted to read what it was about in anticipation for when I would get the chance to watch it. Until this very day, I haven’t watched the series yet but here we are, the first book of this series done as well as the first Margaret Atwood book done and dusted. While I want to say that I had in incredibly great time with it, it definitely was not the case. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of Atwood’s most known and popular titles (according to the blurb in Goodreads) and its no surprise that it was adapted into a TV series considering its premise and characters. It is quite suitable content to make for some engaging and compelling TV series. However, as the book itself, there are certain things that aren’t quite to my own preference.

Before we start with the cons, let’s start with some of the good stuff. The Handmaid’s Tale creates a wonderful dystopia future. This future is harsh and takes away the basic rights of women decreasing fertile women to simply being emotionless and obedient birthing machines as their life from what they eat to their lifestyle to their purpose being derived solely from being impregnated by the Commander of their household. What does make it more messed up is that they are doing all this in the presence of the Commander’s wife just like a substitute body. The dystopia world has its underground guilty pleasures and as Offred, the main character starts to be asked to do things against the norm from the Commander and his wife separately, she starts seeing these hidden elements of this dystopian world. That part of the story is where most of the fun is as Offred’s experiences from past and present do shed light on how the situation came to be, how she got to where she is and her observations from the things happening around her.

The issue with the writing itself is that it is very descriptive, at times a little bit overly descriptive that makes the pacing feel a little dragged out in parts. At the same time, the writing also tends to jump around between the past and present a lot. While the story itself doesn’t have an issue, there are times that it takes a while to know exactly which is in the past without warning. Especially in the beginning when learning about all these characters around Offred and their connection and purpose, etc. Perhaps its that I prefer a little more obvious structure in the writing structure and style which makes this element something that doesn’t appeal to myself as much. Its also that as I get older, the amount of structure and description also makes for a great deal of the read experience itself. Over the course of the novel, it does slowly become easier to catch on the past and present since the characters are more familiar. Just for a simple example, there was one part that bothered me was this whole meeting that was supposed to happen and then it goes on this whole detour of a few chapters before it actually happens.

With all that said, The Handmaid’s Tale is an okay reading experience. Overall, it has a really good world building and the dystopia concept is pretty well-executed especially since it is the first book of two and does build a good foundation, seeing as the story does end on a cliffhanger of sorts. The writing structure and style isn’t exactly something that I’m a big fan of but if you don’t mind those elements I mentioned above, then this might be up your alley!

Goodreads score: 3/5

What’s Up & Adventures – February 2022

Welcome to the February 2022 What’s Up and Adventures! To be honest, February 2022 wasn’t all that eventful. I spent A LOT of time doing overtime for work like every year and it had a few winter storms in Montreal so freezing rain and snow and all the fun winter stuff that we get. Aside from that, its just been the basic February month as I slowly get back into the groove of things. Next month might have some fun stuff in the planning and some of the those goals to cross of my list from the beginning of the year so I’ll have updates on those then.

With that said, two little things to talk about for February 2022 Adventures (feel free to add air quotes to Adventures) since it wasn’t exactly anything super crazy but still, its something…

Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger

February 1st was Chinese New Year. This year is the Year of the Tiger which means its also my Chinese zodiac year (which isn’t exactly a good thing if you are superstitious). I had the usual decorations and got a lovely bouquet of flowers. However, Chinese New Year wasn’t exactly a great time as well since we got some bad news right before the New Year with news of my grandmother’s passing (non-pandemic related, just age).

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022

Ultimate Decades Blogathon is going on right now as it enters its second week. This year its featuring selections of films from myself and my fantastic co-host Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews and a wonderful line-up of guest entries with their choices of releases in a year ending in 2. The entries are rather expansive with one of them over a century old.

If you missed the entries, you can check out the list updated daily HERE.

That wraps up the Adventures portion of this post. Let’s move on to the What’s Up February 2022!

What’s Up – February 2022

Books

Currently reading: The Handmaiden’s Tale, The Hate U Give

Finally started up my reading of 2022 as I started off with the first book on my TBR pile of physical books sitting on my bookshelf, in an effort to finish up all those books this year or at least make some good progress with it. I haven’t seen the TV series for The Handmaiden’s Tale but I did pick up this book when the show was pretty popular. Its just never filtered through any of the streaming services so I haven’t caught up with it. I’m still fairly early in the book but its pretty decent so far.

As for The Hate U Give, I honestly just started it up because it was what I had on Google Play Books while I was waiting for an appointment. Its pretty decent as well. I have watched the film but never got around to reviewing it although I did like it quite a bit.

Films

  • Wild Beasts (1984)
  • The Girl Next Door (2004, Review)
  • The Tinder Swindler (2022, Review)
  • The Hustle (2019, Review)
  • Falling For Figaro (2021, Review)
  • Arachnophobia (1990)
  • Letters to Juliet (2010, rewatch, Review)
  • Tall Girl 2 (2022)
  • Love and Leashes (2022, Review)
  • Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
  • Resident Evil: Damnation (2012)
  • Ali Wong: Don Wong (2022)
  • Resident Evil: Vendetta (2017)
  • Into The Beat (2020)
  • Step Sisters (2018)
  • Porco Rosso (1992, Review)
  • Deep Rising (1998)
  • Drug War (2012)

I’m actually quite impressed with how I’ve moved forward with movie watching this month. A good portion of it is for an upcoming of Movies and Tea which is very early in production right now. However, I did start back up my double features originally starting them off in alphabetical order with a focus on teen and comedies since last month (although I think I forgot to mention it) but this month, its fallen away from it as movie watching intentions have changed a little.

With that said, my biggest recommendations would be Korean rom-com Love and Leashes and the creature feature Deep Rising. Both films are two that I’ve immensely enjoyed this past month.

For March, I’m actually thinking of working through some of the Netflix Asian film selections so I’m compiling a list to catch up on some of the titles before they eventually disappear from Netflix.

TV

  • Shining For One Thing (2022)
  • All Of Us Are Dead (Season 1, 2022) Review
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 4, 2012)
  • Catching Killers (Season 2, 2022)
  • Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness (2021 rewatch, Review)
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 5, 2013)
  • Fishbowl Wives (Season 1, 2022)
  • Luke Cage (Season 1, 2016)
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 6, 2014)
  • Iron Fist (Season 1, 2017)
  • The Defenders (Season 1, 2017)

Currently binging: The Wolf

Oh boy, has TV been great! This month started off strong for a good half of the month with Chinese drama Shining For One Thing which was such a wonderful series that was not exactly what the trailer was but at the same time, added so many cool elements to it and some points to ponder. Much like Korean zombie series All of Us Are Dead which had some flaws but was a pretty fun one as well. Season 2 of Catching Killers is also a great one if you like the Netflix crime docuseries. The other part of the month went to sporadic watching of jumping back into Rupaul’s Drag Race for a few seasons and then with the Netflix Marvel series leaving Netflix in March, I tried to at least get “phase 1” (as I call it, not sure if that’s how its separated) ending with The Defenders watched in the final week of February. I’m leaving out Fishbowl Wives because that TV binge is coming up very soon so you can just read it then.

Games

  • Code Vein (unfinished)
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope (Shared Story mode)

Currently playing: Bloodroots

In terms of games, I tried out Code Vein before it left Xbox Game Pass. I do admit that it is a lot easier to get into as a souls game however, still the learning curve is quite high since there’s a lot to ponder. Much deeper than the normal games that I play. I have been streaming co-op with my friend BrandelSavage on Twitch and trying out the Shared Story mode for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. We played through it once with a rather unsuccessful result of killing almost everyone so we are currently doing the second run of it. There’s probably one more stream of it left this coming Friday. You can see both our perspectives since I do stream my perspective over on my own channel. The Dark Pictures Anthology is pretty great if you like horror stories and it’ll be nice to see what other horror genres they plan to do in the planned 8 episode run that they have especially since Episode 4 is supposed to be released sometime this year.

That’s it for this February 2022 Adventures and What’s Up!
What have you been up to?
What are you reading/watching/playing/binging?

2022 Upcoming Plans!

Its 2022! After spending an entire year in the pandemic last year, life has definitely changed from watching new releases to just real life in general. Routine and everything has definitely taken a shift. Its the new year and we can only hope that we will hopefully escape the pandemic in some form in the coming year.

With all that said, yesterday we wrapped up with a 2021 overview and today is to share what to expect in 2022. Not a whole lot of change in general but for those new to the blog, it will give a general guideline of what to expect. I will try my best to achieve the majority of it but some things may not actually pan out. Its just how life works in general. If 2021 has taught me anything, its to just let things flow.

Enough of that and let’s move on to the actual plans!

BOOKS

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2022: 15 books

Last year was a massive fail in terms of reading. So I’ve basically opted to half the goal from last year. This goal feels overall attainable. One book or so a month seems pretty doable in general. I recently did a clean-up of my books and the goal is to go through the physical TBR books sitting on my bookshelves.

MOVIES

Movies will be basically the same thing as this year. I truly don’t believe new theatrical releases are in the horizon in terms of actual theatre visits so I’m going to focus on Netflix, Shudder and Digital rentals for most new releases. At the same time, this year’s big change is to take a year off of festival coverage. I will talk briefly about some life changes below as we get into some personal plans.

  • Focus on Double Features format
  • New releases or screeners get single reviews
  • Marathons:
    • February- Valentine Romance
    • October – Horror
    • December – Holidays
  • Ultimate Decades Blogathon: annual blogathon that I co-host is back and announcement post will be coming in a few weeks
  • Movies and Tea Podcast: podcast that I co-host will simultaneously be shared here as we dive into more director filmography and themed seasons

TV

All TV binges this year will focus on Netflix content for the greater part.

Where will the Chinese-language dramas that I consume go? That’s in the next section below!

TRANQUIL DREAMS PODCAST

After a few months of hiatus, the podcast will be making a return. This time, I’m going back to the original concept of what I had initially wanted to do with the podcast: Chinese-Language Dramas!

The podcast still needs some structural elements to be finalized but I will be covering Chinese-Language Dramas. What does that mean? Mainland Chinese, Taiwan and Hong Kong TV dramas. The main focus will be those accessible on streaming services since they are becoming more and more available on Netflix alone and I feel like it doesn’t get talked about enough since there are a few gems in general.

I am debating to have a Chinese and English version but that’s a whole other discussion which I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to quite yet in terms of time and editing alone. I do also have another idea for moving the once Sunday lists here as a monthly podcast segment but its a little more work so still under consideration.

MONTHLY SEGMENTS

Mostly the same:

  • Music Obsessions: first weekend of every month
  • Adventures & What’s Up: combined together at month-end

PARTIAL REVIVAL: BAKING THROUGH DISNEY & STUDIO GHIBLI

Look, Baking Through Disney is behind us. There’s no point in dwelling on something that probably won’t happen at this point. I bake desserts pretty much once a year. I’m not saying that it won’t happen again since I have been having the thought lately (due to some upcoming changes) but it won’t be happening in a good part of this year. However, I’m going through a bit of a burnout on horror films which makes the movie portion for horror marathon a big maybe whether I will do it by October or not. Maybe I will be out of it but other factors come into play (also something mentioned later in this post).

With all that said, I’ve been missing animated films and think its a great time to jump back into it so I do want to review Disney films preferably in the order of the ones I have access to or can rent (unless Disney+ has another cheap subscription month), very much like how the original project was structured minus the baking and creativity part. With that, I do also want to go through the Studio Ghibli films seeing as they are mostly available on Netflix right now. Perfect timing and all.

PERSONAL LIFE GOALS (AND A LITTLE UPDATE)

Most of the blog stuff is pretty much updated above so we will do some quick personal life goals. Last year’s workout goal in general worked at its best during the summer. This year is a little bit more different.

Let’s start with the update and real life news/update that may create the biggest change for my life and blog. I’m pregnant and due in a few months so anything in the second half of 2022 will be a big unknown at this point. With that said, the life goals will be very much oriented towards this new change.

  • Eat healthier: For obvious reasons, this is already underway. I am in the process of boosting calcium since lactose intolerance doesn’t exactly help in that department. Along with that, also boosting fruit consumption since I was very bad at that last year.
  • Streaming Once A Week: After that one stream last year in March, I’ve been thinking of streaming regularly for a while but never really had the right timing. So, I thought I’d take baby steps and set in one stream every weekend. I will probably do an official announcement once I finally take the step to start it up.
  • Set Up the Nursery & New Office: The news above basically means I’m working on clearing out my current office to transform into the nursery. I mean, this is a gradual to-do list. There’s a general plan right now so this kind of links to the above goal since I do want to transition to the new office area in the house before streaming. Less hassle that way.

FINAL GENERAL NOTE FOR THE BLOG

I’ve been slowing down on writing this past year. A lot contributed to it. With the new changes in life, I don’t foresee writing frequency increasing and I don’t want to stress over it. The goal is to get a post up every 2 to 3 days. Plus, after a decade of blogging, I do want to jump into some new projects hence the solo podcast with this new structure and also streaming. Maybe when those things happen, I will also want to write more. It will take time for a new routine to build in so some of the newer things will be lesser frequency. Either way, I am going to maintain the quality instead of quantity.

2022 will hopefully be a great year despite the craziness in reality!
Happy New Year and Wishing Everyone All the Best!

Do you all have some new projects? Feel free to share it in the comments!

Want (Want #1) by Cindy Pon

Want
By: Cindy Pon

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?  – Goodreads

Want is a dystopian sci-fi novel set in a future where the oxygen is no longer good to breath. Viruses and pollution allow only for the most wealthy to be able to travel in suits that circulate good air for them to breathe while the majority who are poor need to live short lives and deal with the horrible environment that surrounds them. The story itself isn’t just a dystopian setting but there is a secondary plot involving the romance between the main characters of the story as they sit on different sides of the situation, a little Romeo and Juliet but a little less dramatic and a lot less tragic. The main plot being the one that does have much more resonance than the romantic angle which seems much more basic.

The story takes place in futuristic Taipei setting. The setting itself is the center of where the “evil” big corporation is located despite its international stance with the wonderful technology that its created for the rich and as it starts to expand to the normal everybody in order to achieve better living. However, the ploy does run a little deeper as the main character Jason Zhou and his friends starts to infiltrate into their operations as he dives into a growing friendship with Daiyu. The whole technology layout and the big Jin Corp building as well as the layout of the city between the rich and the poor area is well-described as well as the world/city setting is rather immersive to read. Its one of the bigger elements of the story especially in the big showdown when the big plan unfurls as it dives into the whole structure of this prominent building in the city.

Another element of this is the friendships between Jason Zhou and his friends. These characters are built really well. There are certain friendship connections and romances and a lot of them are fairly subtle until the big situations happen. All of the characters also have very distinguishing traits where gives them their own set of skills worthy of being a part of this group. The whole infiltration plans one by one also reveals a lot about each of the characters that Jason works with which makes them not dispensable. Of course, the focus is on Jason since he gets to be a character torn between knowing about the struggles of the poor and trying to go through this whole revolution/payback against the big evil corporation while at the same time, he has an undercover identity and gets closer to Daiyu who may be the daughter of the CEO of the corporation but also is a fairly upstanding character overall.

Overall, Want is a pretty decent dystopian sci-fi novel. While the romance sometimes seems to drag out a little, the most exciting part is the world building as it focuses on the Taipei setting but also the economic and social issues of the world. The focus on the technology is also pretty cool plus this future doesn’t feel completely a leap in imagination as the world we live in together struggle with potential causes of what could happen in the future.

Book Tour: Ekleipsis: The Abyss by Tamel Wino (Review)

Ekleipsis: The Abyss
By: Tamel Wino

Expected Publication Date: October 29th, 2021
Genre: Horror/Anthology

SYNOPSIS

Ékleipsis: The Abyss is the second short story collection by the award-winning author.

Tales of depravation and insanity are woven together with unrelenting style and depth, scrutinizing human nature’s degeneration when compromised by tragic, vicious circumstances.

These complex, wretched individuals and the irremediable conditions they are desperate to claw out of—or into—invoke the unfathomable question: What devastation are we truly capable of when left with no way out but down . . . into the obscurity of the abyss?

” It is at times appalling, strange and outright frightening, but Wino’s way with character development is outstanding. The display of artistic creativity and character creation really sets “Èkleipsis: The Abyss” apart in the field of short story collections.”
Reader Views

“The stories are well-packaged and generally have the feel of watching a syndicated crime drama. Fans of this form of entertainment will likely enjoy these well-crafted stories about everyday people whose lives are shattered by lunatics.”
The US Review of Books

“Wino’s writing is vivid, unsettling and filled with brilliant hints that contribute to the exhilaration of its pacing. Ékleipsis: The Abyss is a clever and creative horror offering worth checking out.”
―Independent Book Review

” Tamel really captured that essence of society and the dark side of people. Readers will appreciate the dark undertones of this horror anthology. Ekleipsis: the Abyss will surprise you more that you can imagine.”
―Literary Titan

Add to Goodreads

Available on Amazon

REVIEW

Ekleipsis: The Abyss navigates through six different stories of insanity and vulnerability as it goes through the horrors of human nature. The six stories all differ in the content and the skeletons that are hiding in each of their closets making them all relatively intriguing reads. As with most anthologies, there are always stories that stand out more than others. Looking quickly over them, they each do have their own sense of unsettling and sinister moments.

You can group the stories into two different styles. The first three stories having more resolved endings, while the second half consisting of the last three stories all have more a open-ended approach. Right off the bat, it starts off with “Marlene” which feels like a much more familiar tale of paranoia and delusion. Its one of the more normal unfolding of its premise but does show its craft and the writing that makes its a rather fun read and sets up a great tone for the rest of the stories to come. “No Place Like Home” takes a turn to dive into a warped family unit full of replacement, manipulation and suspense. Its one that does grab rather well but the ending does feel a little abrupt. However, the premise is rather solid. “En Prise” is where the strength of dialogue and tension truly builds the best as it lingers around two characters that are developed really well through their conversation. The conversation is an odd and dangerous one and yet, so intriguing as its almost like two people seeing whose bluff works the best and who is actually telling the truth and whether this tactic will work in the end. Its both a clever approach and very well-written.

The second half of the anthology kicks off with “All Day and A Night” which is a rather intense story as prison guards talk about their extreme schooling program to tame the new inmates to two people on a hunting trip when things during the trip take a turn for the worse when things get out of their control. In terms of story development, this one does take a more predictable path however, the whole descriptive element of very vivid right down to the ending. “Blue Devils” is a different type of story and probably in the whole group feels like it falls a little short. Its premise is rather similar, the description is done well and yet the characters also feel a little empty. It is still a dangerous situation and there is some intensity to it but it all feels fairly familiar that it loses its exciting element a little. The whole anthology ends with “The Descent” which dives the deep into human nature/psyche as the main character experiences this hero complex or adrenaline rush that changes his perspective of life and finally spirals into something much more insane. In some ways, this one does pack a lot of surprise especially in how it ends.

Ekleipsis: The Abyss is really quite an outstanding horror anthology. Human nature is a great premise for horror as a lot of other horror writers have proven before as its hard to grasp the extremities that the darkness and instability and insanity can take a person. There’s a good variety demonstrated in each of these stories which also dive into different settings and premises. It keeps the read very refreshing as it moves from one story to the next. Each has decently executed twists and while one or two felt like it had some little issues, the overall feeling was still a rather entertaining and intriguing read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tamel Wino is a Canadian fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on degeneration of sanity and morality. He studied Health Sciences and Psychology, which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Joe Hill, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.

When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic shows and traveling.

Ekleipsis | Facebook | Instagram

GIVEAWAY

Giveaway: Signed copies of Ékleipsis and Ékleipsis: The Abyss
a Rafflecopter giveaway

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

October 25th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight)
Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight)
The Faerie Review (Review)
Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Spotlight)

October 26th

Rambling Mads (Review)
Phoebe’s Randoms (Spotlight)
Stine Writing (Spotlight)

October 27th

@tiny.bibliophile (Review)
@bookaholic__reviews (Review)
B is for Book Review (Spotlight)
Sophril Reads (Spotlight)
Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight)

October 28th

Tranquil Dreams (Review)
PoptheButterfly (Spotlight)
Sadie’s Spotlight (Spotlight)
I Smell Sheep (Spotlight)
Gryffindor Bookish Nerd (Review)

October 29th

@rosyreadz (Review)
Nesie’s Place (Spotlight)
@authormalmccartney (Review)
Haddie’s Haven (Spotlight)

Book Tour Organized by:

R&R Book Tours