Monthly TV – April/May 2016

The Night Manager (20-23 04 16) – You watch this mini series for two reasons: the scenery/cinematography and the actors. Hiddleston, Laurie, and Coleman are the stars. I think Coleman is the best actor, but Hiddleston and Laurie are excellent. Hiddles is just pretty. The story and writing have issues. It’s not something to write home about, but this is a pretty, pretty series.

Daredevil Season 2 (last week of May) – I think the first season of Daredevil was so excellent and so good in terms of being distinct. I loved the actions in S1 more. I find S2 hit or miss for me. The law drama aspect did not work. I liked the Punisher. I didn’t really care for the Hand stuff. I really liked Elecktra and Matt’s chemistry. I did feel that Matt got very annoying most of S2 as he kept lieing to everyone and himself. I look forward to Elecktra’s return, but I’m not sure Matt’s character development is moving at a good pace.

Jessica Jones (last week of May into first couple of days of June) – As a followup to Daredevil, I finally watched the first season of this show. It was good. I do adore David Tennant and he was chilling in this. I really liked the writing, but I did feel that the search for Kilgrave could have been cut short by one or two episodes. Still, a very strong start.

Monthly TV – March 2016

House of Cards (March 25?-29, 2016) – A good season of the show. I enjoyed it. Maybe a bit more than the last. I love how the characters are fascinating, vulnerable, and vile at the same time. Claire’s mother was a great addition to it.

Cooked (March 29-April 3, 2016) – A Netflix documentary series based on Michael Pollan’s book Cooked. I have been more into food than ever lately if you’ve noticed so this was right up my valley especially the episodes about bread and fermentation. It was not the best documentary series I’ve seen about food, but it is a great companion to the book in many ways. I think most people interested in food would like it and definitely for those of us who have read the Pollan book.

Monthly TV – February 2016

Mr. Robot (Feb 3-5, 2016) – I had heard a lot about this show when it was airing last summer, and I kept seeing Rami Malek photos. He is photogenic and has a certain quality about him. There is something mesmerizing about him. He’s amazing in this and deserved all the praise. I really hope he gets more high profile roles. The soundtrack is one of the best I’ve heard from a TV show. Let’s get with the Positives: Rami’s acting; the music; the female characters and their interactions with one another; interesting shooting style; a couple of twists; Tyrell and Joanna for the most part and general creepiness. Christian Slater is decent, not fantastic. Writing is fine. Not-So-Good: Angela’s storyline; drug dealer storyline; how Tyrell and Joanna’a storyline ended, and the finale was a bit anticlimactic. It was a good show and very addictive. I adore Rami, but I don’t necessarily feel this should be watched by everyone. Watching the show makes you very paranoid though. It is very creepy.

The Good Wife (Feb 9-19 , 2016) – See here.

The Duchess of Duke Street (Feb 18-27, 2016) – A 1970s period piece show I knew almost nothing about before I started it. This is an enjoyable show. The protagonist Louisa Trotter (née Leyton) can be an abrasive and blunt character, but somehow Gemma Jones gives her enough pathos, charisma, and vulnerability to make you root for her every time. I admired the character actually. I think the show was best when it was focused on Louisa’s life especially the romance and relationship with Charlie. I loved how the show was able to convey their relationship over years and the impact they had on one another. There was that one strange episode which was basically Jane Eyre, but otherwise, I adored this show. I wish I had someone to share it with.

Bimonthly TV – August and September 2015

Select TV shows, more specifically marathon TV shows, that I watched in August and September. I am going to try to limit myself to one to two (if I have holidays) TV series a month from now on unless I am sick or on holiday.

Episodes (August 2015) – As someone who isn’t a completeionist and find it difficult just to make time for all my consumption and hobbies, I dropped this after watching two seasons. Yes, it had funny moments and I did enjoy the acting. However, I grew a bit wary of the industry jokes and watching Leblanc’s character make an arse of himself. I’ve heard the later seasons get even better so maybe I will revisit. In the mean time, I do think it’s an enjoyable and underrated comedy.

Breaking Bad (August – 20 September 2015) – This show grew on me. I know a lot of people loved it, but I was not particularly engaged with it the first couple of seasons. In fact, I felt like I was watching more because of its place in pop and TV culture rather than because I liked it. It isn’t to say that I disliked it in the beginning, but I didn’t love any of the characters. I think I started to like the show with S3 and S4. The latter is my favourite season because I liked the Gus and Mike characters. At this time, I had grown to appreciate the Jesse Pinkman character and Aaron Paul’s acting. I really liked the characterization and acting in the series. Even the sparse, southwest landscape and direction grew on me. I even managed to feel pity for Walt in the last two episodes! From the beginning, I found him weak and immoral. I never rooted for him until the last episode. I didn’t enjoy the villains or the bleakness of S5, but I did really like the ending. I do not necessarily think it’s the best show ever or even for everybody, but I am glad that I watched it.

Ongoing Shows this month:

  • Great British Bake Off
  • Great British Menu
  • Switched at Birth – I’m back at it, though I still think the show still has many issues
  • The Flash – A couple of reruns so that I am caught up for S02. New show for me.
  • The Muppets – It’s not perfect, but I’m enjoying it a little bit. It’s got major nostalgic factors for me.

Sunday Salon: Summer’s Back!

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Hello! It’s been awhile since I did a Sunday Salon. I’ve missed it, but life has really gotten in the way.

This weekend has been hotter than the standard here. I love that it’s sunny and bright out, but I like to be in the shade or indoors in this kind of weather. It’s relaxing so I like to read! I read one book yesterday and anticipate more day.

I officially started my job this past Monday. The job is the same one I’ve been doing for a year now, but I was made an employee. This is good for me since I now have some financial security and benefits to boot! Working full-time on this project has been tiring though and does not leave a lot of room for me to keep all my hobbies.

It’ll be easier if I just do a quick run down on things:

Books: I hope to read one more book today and start another. I really have not been reading much this year, but hopefully I can catch up this summer to complete my humble 52 books goal this year. I just have too much other stuff going on in my life.

TV: Was off for a couple days for Canada Day and spent that time and this past week watching: “Sense8,” “New Amsterdam,” “Humans,” “Unreal”, and “The Borgias”. I recommend them all in various ways. Two are airing now.

Movies: I went to see Magic Mike XXL in a cinema VIP lounge experience. As someone who no longer really goes to the cinema, I loved the comfortable and bigger seating. So much so that it makes me think I’ll do it again this year. Movie was really fun as well.

Food: I usually bake at least once or every other week, but I didn’t this past week due to the weather. Made a really nice Orange Ricotta loaf the other week though. I haven’t baked bread in over a month. I made a really good black bean and quinoa salad for lunch last week. Now I’m a bit stumped on what I will eat this week for lunch.

Fitness: I’m not running 🙁 A couple weeks after I completed my half-marathon in May, I noticed some pain in my inner calf. I think it’s a minor stress fracture. I’m going to go to physiotherapy soon to check it out. I have a 10K in early September that I still hope to run. In the meantime, I am trying to ride my bike and I’ve been doing some yoga.

Knitting: Finally finished those socks I started in September. No photos yet. I am really not knitting anymore.

Travel: Maybe heading down to the USA for a couple days in August. I am also planning a holiday back to the UK in the autumn. Hope to get that finalized soon. I can’t wait to travel abroad again!

Real Life: Work has complicated things and I had some issues with my neighour the last two months. I really hope things will be calmer now. My friends and family are still very important so I am prioritizing them more in the warm months.

Whew! I think that should be a long enough update. I will continue to blog about my books. To those of you still reading this blog, thank you!

Have a happy week!

Sunday Salon: World Cup and Chores

Sunday Salon

Hello, all!

Since last Salon, I haven’t had time to think about the blog very much. In fact, I didn’t even know the comments were broken and a visitor kindly contacted me about it. Thanks, Susan!

Yesterday, I finally did write a couple of posts on some books I read in May. I have a couple more posts to write then I’ll have caught up for those posts. I am still not reading though. I’ve been too busy.

I’m working at home these days which is not something I have done in awhile. I made progress this week, and did some cleaning and laundry as well. In fact, I still have to clean some more.

Knitting: Haven’t done any in months. I have to be careful otherwise my muscle memory will forget like it did five years ago. I’ll have to make time for it.

Fitness: Started running again on Thursday and I ran this morning. Just 4km each time, and today was better. I’ve got a 5km race in September, but I find running in summer difficult because of the heat. Hopefully I can get back to doing a regular 6km on weekends.

TV: Finished the new season of “Orange is the New Black”. I enjoyed it, possibly more than season one.

Later today, more chores, maybe some gelato, but now, finish the Netherlands vs Mexico World Cup game. I would have posted this post much earlier if I hadn’t been watching. I’ve got a soft spot for the Dutch!

Have a great week!

Sunday Salon: February Blues

Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone!

I have not been reading very much lately. I’ve been too busy and tired to read most days. Some readers like to read to unwind, but I am really active and like a book to take me away for hours and hours. Time of which I do not have lately.

As for my book of today, I am still undecided. I could read my Classics Spin book (Kim by Rudyard Kipling), but I think I will err on my two pile of library books. Goodness, I am glad I have not bought any fiction for awhile. I’m trying to hold out until June as well.

One of my reading goals this year is to read more out loud. I think it’s an interesting exercise as it could help improve my public speaking and normal conversation. It seems a lot of words and stories were written to be read out loud such as poetry. I hope to do more of that this year.

Knitting: Haven’t started. The chart is the most complicated one I’ve encountered yet. I gave up colour coding it. I think I will cast on today or this week to get it started.

In terms of fitness, I signed up for a 10KM next month. I don’t have the proper time to train for it and complete it to the best I could. I am running more though. This week, I ran 6k and 5k. Perhaps by the time the race arrives, I can do that three times a week. Swimming is not going as well as I would like. I can just barely front float and glide. No actual swimming to be done yet. I’ll be glad when the snow starts melting so I can ride my bike again and run more without muddy shoes.

This weekend, I watched season 2 of “House of Cards” which I enjoyed even more than S1. You can see my review of House of Cards season 1 and a review of the British series.

What are you doing this weekend?

Orange is the New Black

My third Netflix show this month. I’m just going through them based on recommendations and why not, so far all of them are entertaining,

In general, I do not like prison shows or movies. They can be excessively violent, but I heard great reviews of this show. Furthermore, I heard it wasn’t too violent and that it was humanistic. I’m also interested in female centric shows. There are a lot of male centric or shows with large male casts, but this show is a rare thing which is rather sad. Besides Captain Janeway is in it!

If you enjoy good acting and good character development, this is a great show. It is real and tells stories of women who are marginalized in society. It does not make them into stereotypes or tropes. There are strong friendships and relationships. There is a large cast of characters and I was interested in almost all of them except one notable example. This is rather rare for me because I often find that with ensemble shows, I only really like a couple of characters and am largely indifferent to the others. With this one, I was engaged with most of the characters early on.

Notably, as much as I find Piper the protagonist annoying, we are supposed to and the show does not hold back from being critical of her. I’ve never warmed to Laura Prepon even though I adored “That 70s Show,” but I think the casting worked perfectly for her here. I adore Kate Mulgrew so she was pitch perfect here as the matriarchal Red. There a slew of great characters and actors. I think the only one who truly fell short for me was the born again Christian meth head girl who came off as one note for me. The writing also kept pushing her as an antagonist. The character was overdone and I am not enamoured by the actor either.

All in all, this is probably the best of the Netflix shows I’ve seen in terms of writing. While it is intense at times, it is done because it is real and honest. I look forward to where they will take the show the next season.

Watched January 26, 2013.

Sunday Salon: January Catch-up

Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone! It’s been a busy time for me, both with work and personally. I have been recovering from this cough that I’ve had for a month. It was very cold earlier in the month, but we had a milder week. Still, I’ve felt a touch of the January blues with my work load and personal responsibilities.

Today, I am going to read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

Yesterday, I went on my first run in about 5-6 weeks. It felt good, but the last 1km of the 6km was a bit tiring! I hope to get back to shape for my first 10km race in two months time. I started swimming lessons which were really difficult for me. I didn’t go this week, but I really hope I get proficient soon as I want to become at least decent at it.

In book news, I read Georgette Heyer’s The Talisman Ring over a week ago. It was average and had some nice Heyer moments, but nothing worth a blog post.

This week, I watched Netflix’s Norwegian-American comedy show “Lilyhammer” based on a friend’s recommendation. It is quite funny and I enjoy watching a foreign show with a touch of American influence. Sometimes, it was a bit too violent and dark more than funny, but still entertaining.

How is your January shaping up?

House of Cards

This post reviews both the original UK “House of Cards” trilogy and season one of the American (2013) version.

House of Cards Trilogy (1990-1995)

The first series in this trilogy is a perfect miniseries. Francis Urquhart as played by Ian Richardson is one of the best antihero characters on TV. He is perfectly smooth, Machiavellian, and yet rootable for me. It is simply amazing how he played this part. It’s pitch perfect and nothing is wasted in the first series. I definitely think the first series is one of my favourite mini series ever and Urquhart is one of the most interesting TV characters.

Continue reading “House of Cards”