Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Series I'm Caught Up On/Finished

I have always liked to read series. You get to know the characters and the world and get attached to it way more than with standalone stories. During my life I have read a lot of series and I thought to share those I'm caught up on or finished entirely.

  • Harry Potter (naturally)
  • The Lord of the Rings (on top of the trilogy I've read Silmarillion and the Hobbit)
  • The Inheritance Cycle (that did not deliver)
  • The Princess Diaries (even my dyslexic sister has read it through)
  • Pure Dead (was there a clear plot, I'm not sure)
  • Artemis Fowl (I should reread this series)
  • Molly Moon
  • Shamer Chronicles (from Lene Kaaberbøl who is behind the W.I.T.C.H. comics)
  • Chronicles of Narnia (another quite obvious)
  • Ingo (because mermaids)
  • Aaro Korpi (from Ilkka Remes, a Finnish detective novel author)
  • Arthur-trilogy (that dragged)
  • Oman keisarien aikakirjat (A finnish fantasy series, a direct translation could be the Emperors' of Oma Chronicles)
  • Bromeliad-trilogy (by Terry Pratchett, my first touch to his works)
  • The Magic Thief (a good basis but left me wanting a bit more)
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians (I should reread these and write a series review)
  • The Heroes of Olympus (I love Percy and Annabeth)
  • Twilight (I wanted to be able to critize them so I had to read them)
  • The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence (when will the next book come out??)
  • The Hunger Games (again, obviously)
  • The Wolves of Mercy Falls (Maggie Stiefvater's writing is one of the most beautiful)
  • Inkworld (I don't see the greatness of Dustfinger)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (perhaps the first book would have been enough)
  • Divergent (unpopular opinion but I liked the ending, that was brave)
  • A Song of Ice and Fire (I fear the last two books will feel like nothing after the series ends)
  • The Night Angel trilogy (oh so tragic and violent)
  • The Raven Cycle (how come so many authors struggle to end their series properly?)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Top10 TV Theme Songs!

As it is known I watch too much TV and have watched for years. Every once in a while I come across a show with a great opening theme song. In my opinion a great theme song is not necessary but it adds to the greatness of the show. A great theme song captures the essence of the show and is recognizable, preferably keeps playing in your head after you hear it. For some time it seems to me that shows have stopped using actual songs and almost any themes, they just flash the show name and that's it. It makes me a bit sad since a great theme song is an essential part of the experience. I decided to list my top10 favorite tv show theme songs of all times and precisely songs, not just ten-second-tunes.

10. Freaks and Geeks
This series is so bittersweet in whole. It's absolutely great series and it was cancelled way too soon. The theme song, Bad Reputation by Joan Jett is speedy and fun as the series itself and gets you into that Freaks and Geeks mood right away.

9. H2O
I used to watch H2O when I was around 15 years old so it gets its place on this list heavily because of nostalgia. And the song No Ordinary Girl sung by Ellie Henderson is quite good, gets you to sing along and excited about mermaids.

8. Firefly
This is a more recent discovery but sadly also a show cancelled too soon. So much injustice in the world... Anyway the theme song The Ballad of Serenity by Sonny Rhodes gives me all the space cowboy feels I need. The perfect song for walking slowly on a prairie with your stetson.

7. Los Serrano
Nostalgia is a thing on this list and Fran Perea's Uno Mas Uno Son Siete falls into that category. I used to watch this too when I was around 15, they would air it every summer for many years. I love this crazy show and it brings so many good memories and moments with it.

6. ER
The suspense in this show is real and so is the theme song. The name of the song is just Theme from ER and the composer is James Newton Howard. The song is purely instrumental but that doesn't take anything away from it. I was so disappointed when they changed it to that dull tune for the last season, never change a theme song that has been playing over a decade!

5. The Big Bang Theory
Some of my enchantment towards TBBT has faded over time but the theme song, The History of Everything by Barenaked Ladies never fails to suck me in. Impossible to sing along but BANG it's just so much fun to try and fail every time. Never gets old.

4. Suits
Suits is a cool badass show and so is their theme song, The Greenback Boogie by Ima Robot. Harvey is kind of cowboy rock-star lawyer who couldn't care less about anyone and the theme perfectly depicts that. Living the high life just the way you want without anything in your way.

3. Game of Thrones
If the show is epic, so is the theme song. Powerful and dramatic, raises you from your seat and even with no lyrics you can't help but hum along. I especially love the ending when it drops to the last few quiet sounds. Close to perfect if not that, there's nothing else I can say.

2. The O.C.
This show might get the most nostalgia points ever because this was the first show I actively followed and was a fan of. I still have the theme song California by Phantom Planet in my iPod and every time I hear it it's just as good as the first time. I recently rewatched the whole show and it made me realise how much I miss it and how awesome it was at the time.

1. Friends
High nostalgia score for Friends too. I had a hard time deciding between Friends and the O.C. but eventually I had to place Friends and I'll Be There For You by The Rembrants as #1 because it still works. And yes, I clap.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Parks and Recreation | Complete Series Review

Because the weather here was rainy and I had a little flu I spend last week watching Parks and Rec seasons 4-7. I had watched seasons 1-3 earlier in the spring and now I was in the mood to watch the rest. And I loved every second of it. (Should go without saying but this post contains spoilers from the outset and throughout.)

Parks and Rec was originally planned as the Office spin-off and the style is similar but in my opinion that's where the similarities end. I liked Parks and Rec a thousand times more than I liked the Office. My main problem with the Office was that I could not stand Michael Scott and when he left, I liked the last season a lot more than the previous 8 seasons. With Parks and Rec I loved every main character and the whole team working at Parks Department.

Almost every single character works with any of the other characters. Leslie and Ron have good relationship, Leslie and Ann are the best best friends though they are so different, April and Ron have excellent dynamics, Andy and April are a fittingly weird couple, Leslie and Ben are cute, Tom and Donna treat themselves properly... I could go on for hours.

It was heartwarming to see some of the characters grow so much during the seasons. April becomes an adult with actual professionalism, Tom learns how to be a real entrepreneur, even Ron softens a little. The bigger plot lines never felt boring or unnecessary but were interesting and all the little humor here and there just made me love everything so much more. The running jokes never got old but always made me laugh. Maybe not the Jerry being laughed at because that's really not cool.

My only complain has to do with Ann and the Lot 48. I felt like something was missing after Ann and Chris left. Leslie works fine on her own or with any of the other characters but her relationship with Ann was special. Also the thing that brought Ann and Leslie together was the Lot 48 and the biggest plotline of all was building a park on it. On season 7 we learn that yes, the park has been built and it's awesome but we didn't get to see that. I'm a bit annoyed by that but what can you do. I wasn't the biggest fan of the three-year timeskip either but watching the last season now was amusing since it's almost the same year.

The last episode got me emotional with all the happy endings. I waited Ann and Chris to return the whole season and when the team had their last gathering at the old office and they weren't there I started to get disappointed but then they appeared and I got something in my eye and I was so happy for Leslie and the whole gang. It was the perfect ending and I loved it from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Silicon Valley Season 3 | Review

I have not talked about HBO's Silicon Valley before on my blog so first of all let's just say that I love it. It's like The Big Bang Theory but not so "invasive", there's no audience laughing and humor is bit more subtle. Character types sometimes remind me of TBBT also, there's the awkward Asian, the weird buddy of the Asian guy, the tall guy who is not quite normal and the center character who has the closest relationship with the only female. Obviously all the guys are extreme nerds but the angle is a bit different since they are IT-engineers, not scientists.

Enough comparing. I love all the characters of Silicon Valley and I love the plot though I understand very little about the actual IT-stuff they talk about. The dynamic in the group is great though I sometimes wish Erlich would shut his mouth. I have shipped Richard and Monica since the first episode but it seems the writers are not gonna pair them up. Shame, really, they would make such a great couple, they already have a great relationship.

Now I'm going to talk about some specific things in season 3, so if you do not want to get spoiled, stop reading now!

I thought they would finally succeed with Pied Piper when the beta was great but I had the same thought as Monica, that all the people who loved it where IT-nerds who understand it, not ordinary people without excessive knowledge about coding. I didn't like that they cheated with the users but they got through that and now it's nothing anymore. I'm not sure what they are going to do with Pied Piper now that they will focus on the videochat, is the file compressing thing forgotten? I loved that Big Head and Erlich bought them and not Gavin Belson, can't wait to see what they will do next season. Hopefully Monica joins Pied Piper, I'm not sure whether she was actually fired from Raviga or not.

Erlich wasting Big Head's money got on my nerves quite heavily, I can't stand sloppy personal or corporal finance. It's not even that complicated, you just have to have more income than what you spend. Actually making it happen is the challenge but throwing a million dollar party is definitely not the way to do it. At the other end of the spectrum, Gavin bringing in all the animals was hilarious and the board putting him on the roof was funny as hell. It's been a while since I watched the first two seasons so I probably missed some of the running jokes but even now this show is one of the best comedies. Please air the fourth season as soon as possible!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child review

There has been (of course) a lot of talk about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, some good and some bad. I'm one of those who was quite happy with the original seven books at the time, the story ended well and everything was fine, though naturally I was sad I had to say goodbye to my favorite fictional world and all the characters. So I had some mixed feelings upon hearing that they were going to publish a new story and in a play format. Still I bought the book and read it in one sitting and I must say despite everything it was like returning home because that's what Harry Potter is to me and will probably always be.

Now I'm going to get into spoilers so if you have not read the book, go read it! You have been warned, THE SPOILERS START NOW!

The first scenes of the play were a bit confusing since we go through three years very fast and I must admit, I was bothered when the lines weren't exactly like they were in the last chapter of the Deathly Hallows. The story got a lot better and clearer once it stopped skipping years. I didn't mind the play format, it made it very fast-paced, and since the world is familiar to us all we don't need long descriptions but sometimes I would have wanted to hear what the characters were thinking instead of just what they said out loud.

About the characters: Scorpius and Albus are the best thing in the book. Their friendship is so heartfelt that the book proved itself with that only. I'm not sure how I feel reading about Harry & co as adults but they weren't bad either. The alternative universe Ron & Hermione were my favorite thing after Scorpius and Albus, this just proves that they are meant to be, no matter how J.K. regrets pairing them. Also I have never really liked Snape, not even after all his heroism, but here the two second we saw him I actually enjoyed his character.

Now I enjoyed reading this greatly but I can't overlook some extremely fan fiction like things. Don't get me wrong, I love fan fiction but I expected them to come up with something little more true to the original series. Voldemort having children has been a subject in fan fiction as long as I have been reading them so I yelled out loud when I read that. That is so out of character for Voldemort! He planned on living forever by making the horcruxes, he did not want to have children! Bellatrix would have probably done it in a second but Voldemort, never. In addition, I'm not sure I like all the time-traveling either, it worked out okay but still not my favorite thing.

Besides the characters I loved the humor in the story. Scorpius having a huge crush on Rose was sweet and Rose saying that Scorpius doesn't look like Voldemort because he has a nose... I laughed. My favorite fan fics are those that pair up Rose and Scorpius and this gave me more than I could have hoped for.

If it weren't for all the fan fiction traits this book would be a 5-star-read, no question about it. Since there are those very out of character things I can't account this into canon with the original seven. Instead I consider this as expanded universe, very much worth reading.

Monday, August 8, 2016

July Wrap Up

Pokémon Go was published in July and though I didn't mean to start playing it, seeing my brother play made me want to try also and then there was no coming back. Pokémon Go took a big chunk of my time I'd otherwise spend reading but despite that I managed to read five books.

The first two books I read were Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. I wrote a whole series review about The Raven Cycle, so I'm just going to say here that I enjoyed the series but wasn't fully satisfied with it.

After finishing the Raven Cycle I read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. My interest for this book was sparked by Once Upon a Time which introduced Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as new characters in season finale. I wanted to be familiar with their original story before the new season premieres in September to fully appreciate the plot and easter eggs. The book itself was very short and quick read, though the construction of the book was very different from what I expected.

Then I got to the second book in my favorite new series the Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Scarlet's character wasn't as good as Cinder but still the overall story keeped me very interested and excited and I surprisingly liked Thorne very much after his and Cinder's relationship stabilized. Wolf and Cinder went a bit too Twilight for my taste but other than that I enjoyed the book a great deal and am looking forward to getting into the third book.

The last book I had time to finish in July was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum. Once Upon a Time was the reason to reading this, too, because the Wicked Witch of the West has been a character since season 3 so it's about time to get some insight on her. The book itself was a nice children story, though I kind of saw where it was going the whole time but it turned out a bit different than what I thought.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Monthly Recommendations | 1 Year Celebration

So Monthly Recommendations group is 1 year old and for celebration the topic for this month is to recap all the past topics and recommend one book for each. Obviously I have only done this for a couple of months so most of these are totally new to me, which is fun. I skipped the few topics I've already posted recommendations for, because this post is long enough even without them. Here are the topics and my recommendations:

An underrated book
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick is a book that even underrates itself. It has the potential to be much more but it's way too short and all the things are just starting when it ends. In short, the book takes place in an alternative reality where Nazi Germany and Japan won the WWII and rule the world. America has been split in half between the winners. Luckily, Amazon has made it into an incredible tv show that hopefully tells the whole story, not just the beginning. The first season at least fulfilled all my hopes and expectations and the wait for the season 2 has already been too long.

A book set in school
I'm going to cheat here a bit and recommend a series which has not so much focus on school setting but learning to be a magician, and that is Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones, the first book being The Lives of Christopher Chant. If you liked her book Howl's Moving Castle, you should definitely read the Chrestomanci books as well. The main character is Christopher, who has nine lives and is discovered by the great magician who holds the position of Chrestomanci and takes Christopher as a sort of apprentice to learn to use his talent and preserve his lives, which is something he is not very good at.

A creepy book
I'm in the middle of the Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and though it's supposed to be this childhood fairytale, it's seriously creeping me out. The main character is a 7-year old boy whose neighbours are somewhat mystical and he accidentally releases this evil spirit at their farm that starts to torment the neighbourhood. As said I haven't finished this book yet so I don't know the whole story but I have a bad feeling about it.

A trilogy
I feel like Brent Weeks doesn't get enough recognision so I'm going to recommend his Night Angel trilogy. The story is about an orphan boy Azoth who wants to become a wetboy (like an assassin, but better) and is trained by Durzo Blint, the best wetboy there is. As the story progresses, Azoth meets people from his past and gets in very lethal situations and finds out what makes Durzo Blint so legendary. Azoth becomes best friends with the heir to the throne, Logan, who is my favorite character of the series as he is the total opposite of Azoth, little naive but learns how the world works and grows to be a leader.

A book you think others should read ASAP/before the end of the year
This is my other cheat since I have not read either of the books I'm recommending for this topic. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is becoming a movie by the end of this year so I really need to read it before that happens. Similarly Starz is making a tv series out of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and I must also get to that but luckily the show will start airing in 2017, so I still have time.

A fantasy book
There are many great middle grade fantasy series, Harry Potter being the crown jewel for me. Very close to Harry Potter in my books is Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. The series has seven books and all of them have the feel of the Philosopher's Stone which I love. The world is fascinating and every single character is lovely. More people should read this series.

A book with little to no romance
I feel like all young adult or adult books have romance so I have to make a cop out and recommend middle grade book, that is How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. The movie is based on this but the plot is totally different, in the book the vikings have this rite that when they are at a certain age they capture their own dragon to train.

A standalone & survival story
I will combine the last two topics and recommend Airman by Eoin Colfer, the writer of the Artemis Fowl series. Airman tells the story of Conor Broekhart, a young inventor who dreams of flying like a bird in 1880s but is wrongfully imprisoned and must adapt to prison life at horrible prison island while planning his escape. This is another character driven book that I love and that would deserve to be read more and made into movie.