What’s Up 2020: Week 13

Moving right along now into Week 13 of 2020! This week’s recap was the first official week of self-isolation. While life didn’t change much except for moving work to my home office and its been a whole more of deliberately staying at home, the good thing is that writing is definitely more on track and I’ve found more time to do other things in these different categories. On the positive side of things, we’re progressing!

READING

Blackthorn

Currently reading: Blackthorn

Blackthorn is moving forward FINALLY! I’m finding time to read again, although not quite as much as before. However, I’m definitely hitting the meat of the story as I hit almost halfway. I do plan on finishing it soon as I have another book to start reading very soon in preparation for the next blog tour.

PLAYING

where the water tastes like wine

Currently playing: Demon’s Tilt, I Love Hue, I Love Hue 2, Happy Color, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

Definitely moving forward with a lot more games this week. Still mostly focused on mobile for relaxation and then checking out other games on Xbox Game Pass for PC. I’m debating to keep it a little longer than the three months since I have a few other games to check out that might take some time to finish like Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Guacamelee 2! As for this week, I started up Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, an indie game that is really narrative and part choice-based to direct the story in a different way. I just realized that the game is fairly long (like 10 hours) and I’m only like an hour into it so I still have some gaming to give more thoughts on it. On another note, I’m trying to use this time to get more gaming posts up. First line of business is the revival of Mobile Games Roundup!

WATCHING

aliens

  • A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
  • The Guardian Brothers (2016)
  • Aliens (1986, rewatch)
  • Alien 3 (1992, rewatch)

A ton of rewatches this week and really only one new watch. I had postponed The Guardian Brothers so long that I felt like I wanted to rewatch it to get a review out. We’re really ahead for Movies and Tea recordings so you can kind of guess who we chose for Season 5 seeing as I went ahead to revisit some Alien movies. The husband actually did watch all the first 4 but I actually fell asleep (because of fatigue and not the movie’s problem) for Alien and then I’m not a fan of Alien Resurrection so, no surprise, I actually dozed off also. Either way, it helped to catch the little details. I’m actually surprised that I haven’t reviewed the Alien franchise yet. I had thought that I did so I might be doing a Sunday Lists posts to rank the movies thus far!

BINGING

The Circle Brazil

  • The Circle Brazil (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Skate Into Love, Me To Us, Youth is You 2, The Singer 2020, J-Style Trip

Lots of TV back on the radar now. Three Week Event of The Circle Brazil wrapped up and its still such a great concept as a show. With different countries and different players, the game changes and its a refreshing way to see the outcome. Its great since The Circle France is around the corner and what’s even better is that now I can watch it with more ease as I understand French!

As for currently watching, J-Style Trip released its next episode with guest star JJ Lin exploring Singapore in a 2 part trip. The first part is whats available and pretty fun since I’ve liked JJ Lin as a musician as well and fits so well since he had just did a live online concert with friends for his birthday. I finally got started with Me to Us and I love it SO MUCH! Not hard to since I can’t help but fangirl over Nicholas Tse who in his late 30s is still AWESOME! So much style on stage! As for Skate Into Love, this series is one of my most anticipated this year since I like Janice Wu as an actress in TV series and she was pretty quiet in 2019 and so far, its been really fun! Its supposed to be the part 2 of a trilogy following Ashes of Love (review). Plus, its only 40 episodes, which is fairly modest for Chinese dramas.

That’s it for Week 13’s recap! 
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 12

Week 12 everyone! I’m guessing everyone is starting to settle into having more time at home. Last week, aka this week that we’re covering right now, was my last week having to commute to work and under a lot of stress of how to make as many preventative measure as possible so that actually affected a lot of writing. However, I did try to stay on track with doing as much as I can. Next week will definitely bring some difference hopefully as work shifts home.

READING

Blackthorn

Currently reading: Blackthorn

As I’ve mentioned before, most of my reading is done via commute. Due to the preventative measures during commute, I actually stopped touching my devices on the bus so hence, no reading was done. Blackthorn is still on my mind and as this goes up, I’m back to reading. However, absolutely no reading progress last week. I’ll talk more about it in next week’s update!

PLAYING

Demon's Tilt

Currently playing: Demon’s Tilt, I Love Hue

Not too much of change in the gaming department either! I actually have been pretty obsessed with these two games. Pinball games just bring out the challenger in me apparently and I keep wanting to beat the game and beat my own high score. I’m actually improving in it which is pretty nice. Hopefully that I don’t peak at a certain point, but that tends to happen. We will see as I do also need to move on and play something else.

At the same time, I Love Hue is perfect for downtime. While I’m still loving this one, I realized that they recently released a sequel called I Love Hue Too and I can’t wait to try it out! I’ll report back next week to talk about it once I give it a go.

WATCHING

blair witch project

  • The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  • Blair Witch (2016)
  • Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel (2018)

Unknowingly, we ended up watching all horror movies this weekend. The one thing that was unexpected was finally catching up (for both myself and my husband) to the very talked about The Blair Witch Project when it was first released and probably put found footage films on the map back then. I still remember hearing all kinds of talk about it back then about the shaky camcorder style and such. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only person who hasn’t caught up with this one. While I can’t say that I’m completely enthralled by it, there are quite a few things that I did like about this one.

Of course, this was all lead by my husband’s random choice to start 2016’s Blair Witch thinking it was 1999’s Blair Witch Project so we just decided to rent the first and check both of it out. Of course, we also decided to continue on with the Hell House LLC franchise onto the second movie, which isn’t as good as the first one.

BINGING

restaurants on the edge

  • Restaurants on the Edge (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: The Singer 2020, Youth is You 2, The Circle Brazil, Skate Into Love, J-Style Trip

TV binging is just all kinds of new things that updated daily or weekly with one to four episodes depending on the series. The Singer 2020, Youth is You 2 are both variety shows from Mango TV and iQiyi that I watch via their international apps. I’ve been watching those the past while so nothing new there. Still very fun. The Circle Brazil aired its 2nd week of its 3 week event (so it will all wrap up next time) and you can see the difference of the competitive vibe in this one compared to the US version. I’m going to talk about it once the whole thing ends. Its definitely a fun concept. J-Style Trip is also a new Taiwanese variety show with Jay Chou and his buddies exploring the world. Suitable for now as a lot of us are sitting at home. Its pretty fun especially since the first episode is was Jam Hsiao, a musician that I’ve really been loving the past few months, but its only updated one episode per week. Good things come in small doses, I guess, and makes us appreciate it more. Finally, a series I’ve been waiting for to start finally aired called Skate Into Love and its update daily and 5 episode in and I LOVE it!!

We switched things up a bit this time and talked about the currently binging before what I finished. Restaurants on the Edge is a Netflix series about making over restaurants. Its something of a Queer Eye concept but targeted at restaurants around the world as the three hosts help with making over the interior design, food as well as bringing in the culture for the owners and the vibe of the restaurant. Its really nice because it may be a makeover but its so much more than that, which is what I appreciate about the show and I’ll talk about it more in the TV binge. Working on that soon..but as usual, the TV binge is piling up right now.

That’s it for this What’s Up 2020 for Week 12!
What are you reading/playing/watching/binging?

 

To Dream is to Die (Dead Dreamer #1) by Sarah Lampkin

To Dream is to Die (Dead Dreamer #1)
By: Sarah Lampkin

to dream is to die

Eighteen-year-old Brenna Whit is entering college as a freshman and starting to meet new people, but she hides a dark secret. Because of an accident that happened three years ago, her spirit wanders the Fade whenever she falls asleep. It’s something she wants to keep hidden from the world, but when she sees someone watching her in spirit form, she fears the secret’s out. With new friends, possibly new enemies, school, and a new crush, Brenna has too much to worry about for just her freshman year of college. – Goodreads

Feeling a lot along the lines of young adult shows, To Dream is To Die is the first book in the Dead Dreamer series. As a first book, it does a lot of things right especially in setting up a foundation quickly. The author Sarah Lampkin quickly lets us know the situation and what is the new situation that our main protagonist Brenna is in with her new phase in life, moving into her dorm in college and then revealing that she essentially doesn’t sleep and wanders in her spirit form instead, an ability that she has because of her near death experience. A secret that she soon has to divulge to her new friends, Aeria and Damon who the latter actually is also learning about his own abilities.

First books of series are always a little tricky. The author needs to be able to show off these characters and their charm while giving them a situation that lets them learn about their dilemma. Here it is set up very well and paced in an intriguing way as everything links to each other but also having pieces of the puzzle that need to be figured out and revealed gradually and more characters coming into the mix. At the same time, what helps this all is using chapters that switch their different narratives. Its mostly in the narrative from the point of view of Brenna but when the situation temporarily changes, it switches over to her friend and it adds a unique touch.  These types of narratives is something I personally enjoy a lot in novels as they help execute storytelling elements so well and let the readers connect with the characters better as well.

Every character here from Brenna, Aeria and Damon all have their value in the story while adding in some more supporting characters that get involved in the situation and the supernatural/paranormal elements of demons, fairies, spirits and possession. All three are fairly strong characters. There’s a lot to discover about their spiritual plane called the Fade, whether its the history or the mysteries, it really only feels like the type of the iceberg has been discovered. Book one shows that there is so much more room for the story to grow and expand and it’ll be interesting to see where they take the sequel which is already available.

Overall, To Dream Is To Die is a well-paced page-turner. Its paranormal and fantasy elements are pretty creative and intriguing to discover in this new world that Sarah Lampkin has created. At the same time, she also brings to life some strong characters. Its definitely one to follow as well as for myself, catch up with the second book.

*Book received in exchange for honest review via R&R Book Tours*

What’s Up 2020: Week 9

Week 9 is already behind us! This past week has been crazy busy. Hopefully, a little break happens following this week and things start picking up again. Still, a few things did wrap up today so that’s always good. I do apologize for movies being rather inactive this week, not really sure what happened there.

READING

to dream is to die

  • To Dream Is To Die (Dead Dreamer #1) by Sarah Lampkin

Currently reading: The Celestial Assignment

As I work hard on getting things back to normal, I managed to wrap up To Dream Is To Die which actually turned out to be quite a fun read. I have a few little issues with it but the world and the story itself is pretty decent. I’m working on the review right now which should be out soon. In the meantime, I’ve started a short story (which I don’t think even counts as novella) and I’m pretty much like 60% done as I’m writing this. Lots of book reviews coming up as I have a few other commitments to work on before the end of March.

PLAYING

snake pass

  • Snake Pass (incomplete)

Currently playing: Reigns: Game of Thrones, Thimbleweed Park

I’m pretty much completely focused on Xbox Game Pass for PC subscription at the moment. I had downloaded Snake Pass to realize that it was leaving the Game Pass so tried to get in a little time which resulted in one gaming session before it left at the end of the week. However, I have the general idea of how it feels. With that said, I’m still working through Reigns: Game of Thrones and have started Thimbleweed Park as the latter is going to leave Game Pass soon as well so scrambling to try and finish that one.

WATCHING

Your Name movie poster

  • Your Name. (2016, Review)
  • Black Panther (2018)

I already apologized above for the lack of movie viewing. Its really mystifying how quickly the week passed and no movies happened. It could have to do with other busy things and just deadlines and work taking over and zapping my energy. Either way, both of these were decent viewings with Your Name strucking a chord more for myself, which was great because it was my choice for the concluding review for Ultimate 2010s Blogathon.  I’m having a hard time committing to watching superhero movies and that is why Black Panther took me a while to get back to however, its a nice change in pace for Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ll keep other thoughts for when I do the double feature which I should pair with Avengers: Infinity War when I get around to watching it (hopefully soon).

BINGING

love is blind

  • Love is Blind (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: The Singer 2020, Eternal Love of Dream, Our Song

Love is Blind wrapped up with a finale episode giving the conclusion of the 5 couples and whether they went through with their marriage and at the same time, answering to whether the experiment worked for them. I’ll talk more about this show when I do the TV binge, which is in the works. I just lost a bit of interest once the blind love experiment section ended which pretty much the results of this deemed the experiment inconclusive. Either way, I’m mostly watching Our Song right now as its the only TV show that has finished and catching up weekly with the other two shows. I’m trying to start another series on Netflix but haven’t quite decided which yet.

Week 9 ends with a lot of writing plans in the horizon. 
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 8

Welcome to the continuous hectic weeks of February! We’re heading towards the end of February and this obviously recaps the week prior so its just still a bit nuts. I’m trying to keep up with everything as much as I can. Some things popped up as well while wrapping up other little things.

READING

to dream is to die

Currently reading: To Dream Is To Die

Reading is still pretty good. I’m managing to keep up with the whole reading on the bus in the morning routine. It gives me a good lead on a lot of the reading and with sufficient time and not too long books, which is mostly the ones I have coming up, most of it is on track. Plus, reading in the morning is always a great way to start the day. I’m still reading To Dream Is To Die. Its definitely picking up and the story is panning out better. I have some little issues right now with dialogue but I’m not even halfway so I wonder if its deliberate. We will see whether its a character thing or just something less to my liking.

PLAYING

reigns game of thrones

  • ClusterTruck

Currently playing: Reigns Game of Thrones

Like I said last week, I’m going to try this week to make the most of the Xbox Game Pass for PC that I have up until April. Before any big games, which I just don’t have time to commit to right now, I’m playing games in little doses. The first that I installed and then removed within less than half an hour was the desire to try out ClusterTruck which is a fairly simple control type of game but also a tad frustrating to get through levels at a certain point. I figured that I’d seen most of what it had to offer so uninstalled it. If I was in the right mindset, I would probably have played it longer but unfortunately, I’m just not. So, I moved onto something newly added which is Reigns: Game of Thrones.

I’ve reviewed the previous two Reigns games and go back to play them on my phone every once in a while. Playing Reigns on PC is a pretty neat experience as it feels more cinematic, which makes me wonder if its just the Game of Thrones angle that adds to it. I’m still unlocking characters and figuring out how to do it so probably will be working on this for the next week or so. It feels more objective oriented so its pretty fun.

WATCHING

FIRST-LOVE-Poster-1382x2048

  • Life of Pi (2012)
  • The Swan Princess (rewatch 1994)
  • Battle of Jangsari (2019, Review)
  • Bait (2012)
  • First Love (2019)

Between Movies and Tea which brought viewings, rewatching The Swan Princess as its great to pair as background viewing and the fantastic two screeners that I got over the past week, its been really good on the viewing front. Everything has been a nice surprise overall. I won’t talk too much about Life of Pi as that’s a Movies and Tea recording and then I got to catch up with Bait which has been on my watch list for a while and it didn’t disappoint. My movie of the week has to go to one of my screeners, although both are pretty good, First Love is awesome! Its full of a good balance of fast-paced action, crime fights between yakuza and triad, clueless pairing getting caught up and some incredibly funny and quirky characters. Its fun and exciting to watch.

BINGING

Find Yourself

  • Dad Where Are We Going (Season 5, 2017)
  • Find Yourself (2020)

Currently watching: The Singer 2020, Love Is Blind, Eternal Love of Dream

TV binge definitely is what I wanted to have accomplish.  I ended up wrapping Dad Where Are We Going 5 and Find Yourself, both were pretty decent watches. If anything, Find Yourself was overall just a fun little watch with a lot of pink hearts floating around a lot of the scenes. It was a bit frustrating in the middle but still managed to pull itself through in the end.

Due to the coronavirus in China, The Singer 2020 actually has changed its structure to an online format with its designated audience watching live as the singers perform in their respective cities and studios/homes. Its an interesting way to do it but still manages to keep it interesting. Other than that, Love is Blind should be wrapping up in the finale this week. I’m still uncertain how I feel about it as its more of something I’ve been watching in the background. While Eternal Love of Dream is at the phase where I’m saving up episodes so skipped a week to pile up more to watch in a binge when I have more time.

That’s it for What’s Up!
What have you been watching/reading/playing/binging?

Blog Tour: When Stars Are Bright by Amber R. Duell (Review/Giveaway)

When Stars Are Bright
By: Amber R. Duell

when stars are bright

Publication Date: January 7th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult/Fairy Tale Retelling
Publisher: Crescent Sea Publishing

SYNOPSIS

For Lina Holt, a Dutch seventeen-year-old with a flair for singing, 1930 is going to be her year. Her long-time boyfriend is about to propose and her mother will finally realize their relationship isn’t a passing phase. But when a stranger snatches her from her backyard, everything changes.

Lina is thrust into the spotlight of a New York vaudeville show where she’s paired with Nik, a mysterious pianist. The two bond during rehearsals and it doesn’t take long before Nik puts himself at risk to confess a hidden truth. Without Lina, the show is in its last season and there’s no way she’ll be allowed to slip through the owner’s fingers. Not when she carries fairy magic in her blood—an gift that turns her song into a dangerously addictive drug.

If Lina ever wants to return home, she must learn who to trust before she’s forced to remain a prisoner on stage forever.

WHEN STARS ARE BRIGHT is a historical Thumbelina retelling with a touch of magic.

Add to Goodreads

REVIEW

I’m a big fan of fairy tale retelling stories.  The ones that I have read are usually rather unique and have their own twist. However, Thumbelina is not one that I’m familiar with so in this case, I can really only base it on the historical setting and its young adult story elements.

While the story itself is rather predictable in its foundation, there are quite a few decent elements used here. For one, the fantastical elements used such as injecting the magical bits in its characters and the different abilities that these characters have especially the show crew that the main character Lina meets as she learns about her own abilities in this world that is unknown to her. Have the moment for its characters reveal their own abilities and then using this and the situation that they are pushed into gives the character a good level of development, which is always a good element to have in a young adult story. The 1930s historical setting is also one that almost always fascinating to use as it gives it a lot of charm as well as its societal conflicts to revolve around.

While Amber R. Duell has written quite a few books as well as some book series, this is the first book of hers that I’ve read and its definitely a fun book to read. Its a good world to dive into. The characters here focus mostly on Lina and Nik and it navigates a lot as their friendship grows and she starts to slowly trust him more despite her unfortunate situation that causes her to end up in the show in the first place, hoping to find a way home. Of course, things are what they seem on the surface, especially the people that she meets. Its in these little moments of character building that the story shines at its best.

The endgame of the whole thing does do a good job at giving it a decent set-up. The ending itself is rather bittersweet, probably more bitter than sweet, but that all depends on how you connect with Lina’s story in the first place. At the same time, there is a good deal of cleverness at the end that makes sure to add in the element of the fairy tale retelling that was a pleasant surprise.

Score: 3.5/5

Where to Buy:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber R. Duell

Amber R. Duell is an award-winning young adult author, Navy wife, and mom of 2 awesome boys. She has been a #WriteMentor mentor since 2018 and is a co-host on the live broadcast show Young Adult Edition. Red Bull keeps her kicking.

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

GIVEAWAY

Giveaway: Win a paperback copy of When Stars Are Bright!

Enter HERE

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

February 17th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Gwendalyn’s Books (Review) https://gwendalynbooks.blog/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Tales of Natural Spoonie (Review) https://talesofanaturalspoonie.com/

February 18th

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com
C Vonzale Lewis (Review) https://cvonzalelewis.com/index.php/blog/
Life’s a Novelty (Review) https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/
Once More with Reading (Review) https://oncemorewithreadingx.wixsite.com/welcome Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/

February 19th

I Love Books and Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com
Cup of Toast Blog (Review) https://cupoftoast.co.uk
Bibliophile Ramblings (Review) http://lego–ergo–sum.blogspot.com/

February 20th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Review) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1 Crossroad Reviews (Review) http://www.crossroadreviews.com
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Port Jerricho (Review) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

February 21st

Ghoulish Life & Reviews (Review) https://ghoulishspirit.wordpress.com/
Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com
Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/
Vick’s Bookish Writing (Review) https://vicksblogcom.home.blog/

Blog Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

 

What’s Up 2020: Week 6

In a blink of eye (or at least it feels that way), we’re looking at Week 6 that has passed us by. As we get into February and things are still quite busy and probably won’t stop for the rest of this month at least, other things are moving along fairly okay. Let’s see whats up.

READING

when stars are bright

Currently reading: When Stars Are Bright by Amber R. Duell

Nearing the halfway point with this current read, When Stars Are Bright is a rather interesting novel set in the 1930s. It says that its a Thumbelina retelling but I don’t really know since I don’t quite know that fairy tale in the first place. Probably should do some research at some point on that. However, I can say that this book is a decent read and it’ll be interesting to see where the character will go from this point.

PLAYING

life is strange 2

  • Life is Strange 2

Currently playing: Overcooked 2, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

As we get back into gear for Game Warp Podcast, the next game is Life is Strange 2 on our list of games to review. Life is Strange and games from Dontnod Entertainment has been a staple in the podcast gaming roster so the episode should come out soon-ish so I won’t talk too much about it. This is a different game from its previous games set in the same universe, some things done better and some things not quite at par.

With that said, I’ve been on a gaming kick as I picked up the deal for $1 Game Pass for 3 months for PC and am getting ready to look at some of those games. Before that, this weekend, I finally decided to start up Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which has some unique mechanics that needs some getting used to. I literally started the game not too long but I don’t think its a long game so will have to find time to wrap that up at some point.

WATCHING

La La Land

  • La La Land (2016, Review)
  • Bumblebee (2018)
  • In My Dreams (2014, Review)

A quiet week of movie watching as I got caught up in having a hard time to decide what romance to watch for Valentine’s Day marathon as romance in movies just wasn’t really feeling it. Landed on La La Land, which was a surprisingly fun movie for  Oscar fodder and then the husband chose Bumblebee as the weekend movie (along with a few other ones on Shudder that I fell asleep so I’m not including it here), which was a ton of fun as well.

BINGING

Find Yourself

Currently binging: Who’s The Murderer 5, Eternal Love of Dream, Where Are We Going Dad? 5, The Singer 2020, Find Yourself, The Little One 2

I’m watching and started watching too many things that I’m starting to forget things here and there. Luckily, one of them will be ending next week and I have a few that is just updating on weekly basis and then, one for viewing in between as its an older season. Ending series which will wrap up in a week is Who’s The Murderer 5 which has been a fun and wild ride with some nice boosts in the quality of their cases. Eternal Love of Dream and Find Yourself is currently dramas that are playing that I’m watching via Youtube and Netflix respectively. They are updated weekly about 6 episodes or something. As for variety shows, The Little One 2 and The Singer 2020 literally just started with one new episode a week. Finally, Where Are We Going Dad? 5 is the older variety show that I’m watching just because its cute and fun. I’m not going to lie that everything I’m watching right now is pretty decent. My fave does go to Find Yourself which has started off really strong, but I’m a bit worried might lose its steam a little if the main couple has the fate that I’m thinking they will have. Hoping really hard that it doesn’t get frustrating…

That’s it for the Week 6 recap!
What have you been watching/reading/playing/binging?