Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc.
Lauren’s Book Pick: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) – It’s been over a month of me putting off this book review for whatever reason, so I am just going to put a little, super vague blurb here so I can wash my hands of the responsibility without having to go into too much depth about how I continue to be bummed by the series’ choice to angstily romance cousins. I don’t care how distant they are; I don’t like it. That said, the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series continues to do so much right outside of this unfortunate shipping, and outside of Chaol’s obnoxious holier than thou hypocrisy. What Queen of Shadows does give us is more badass women that are impossible not to love as much as our lead, Aelin (Hello Lysandra! I swear, if we don’t get a teamup by series end with all of these women I will light the books on fire – symbolically of course, since they’re digital…), and one hell of a late act that had me giddily shoulder dancing between tears as characters take all the hope and expectations we’ve put into their storylines and make the absolute most of them. Seriously, as much as I hate the main romance, I absolutely love everything else about the fantasy series you most certainly should start reading immediately, if you have yet to do so.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Dawn of The Dead (2004) – I have been internally debating whether Train to Busan or Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake is my favorite zombie movie since I saw the former, and after watching them fairly close to each other this October I gotta give it to the latter. Train to Busan has a better core cast overall, but 2004’s Dawn of the Dead still has a few genuinely great characters. And honestly it’s just so much scarier. It wasn’t the first movie to have running zombies, but it is the one that ruined shamblers for me forever. Each and every action sequence moves at a breakneck pace that’ll get your heart racing, the camera work and score elevate the tension to even crazier heights, and it’s all bookended by two of the best scenes in any zombie flick to date.
Lauren’s Music Pick: The Haunting of Bly Manor Soundtrack – I don’t know if it’s because I was so overwhelmingly distracted by my favorite Sheryl Crow song being weaponized against me by the finale of the show, or the fact that Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night” has been constantly repeating in my brain, well, all through the day and night for about a week after I first watched the series, but I am ashamed to say that it took the Bly Manor twitter account recommending their show’s album for me to actually check out what The Newton Brothers put together. And oh boy do I feel like an idiot for being so close to completely missing out on something that is so perfectly splendid, fully embodying all the beauty and emotion that the show has to offer. The songs flow perfectly from one to the next, presenting a world full of fairy tales and gothic romances with the spins of the music box and runs on the piano keys, with sorrowful hope and melancholy being the throughline that holds it all together. Which should surprise no one given how much of it alludes back to the song that starts the whole series, “O Willow Waly.” Honestly I’ve been listening to this and The Haunting of Hill House soundtrack so much this week that they’ve begun to run together (the similar sounds and repeated use of the theme not helping the blending), so you should probably just go ahead and listen to both yourself.
Lauren’s TV Pick: The Queen’s Gambit – Admittedly even with the countless people singing its praise, chances are I wouldn’t have given The Queen’s Gambit a chance had it not been for Anya Taylor-Joy leading the cast because it’s basically a blend of two film genres I tend to shy away from due to their often repetitive, predictable stories: the sports genre with this underdog story of a chess savant fighting her way through the competitive ranks, and the music industry/biopic genre with the drug addicted star often being the one getting in her own way of success. And even with the typical tropes and hardships forming this story, it was impossible not to be riveted through all 7 episodes of the miniseries because it is just so well made, with strong, enjoyable characters dragging you along with them. Seriously, I haven’t been this invested in a game of chess since the Pixar short Geri’s Game. I may not have understood most of what was happening on the board, or the strategy the players were sharing with each other from episode to episode, but they sure made me care about it regardless.
Ben’s Video Game Pick: Spider-Man: Miles Morales – Like 2018’s Spider-Man game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales blends crazy superpowered brawls and threats with the more relatable issues of its titular hero’s everyday life, all the while taking a page out of Into the Spider-Verse, highlighting what makes the teen a unique webslinger just as capable as Peter Parker. Miles’ “venom” and cloaking abilities alter the gameplay from what we got controlling Peter (other than web swinging around NYC, which is still perfect), and Miles’ ethnic background is a huge part of who he is, yet they still both follow that “with great power comes great responsibility” mantra that ends up creating so much drama in their lives, making them true heroes. Developer Insomniac has delivered yet another spectacular Spider-Man title with incredible gameplay and a story that is almost guaranteed to please any and all fans of either webhead.
So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!
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