Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Jessica Jones 2 A Breath of Fresh Air

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Jessica Jones season two felt like a breath of fresh air to me, especially when compared to the other Marvel shows on Netflix. I think all of the Marvel shows to this point have felt a bit bloated, like they could use a few less episodes to make things tighter, and even though I felt that way about this season of Jessica Jones as well, it was less of a problem. The second season of this show was fun and compelling and went in a new direction- and I think it worked. 

This isn't going to be a review as much as it is a discussion post- I just want to talk about a few things that made this show stand out for me. And naturally there'll be a few complaints as well, but by and large the good far outweighed the bad. This is going to be spoilery, so if you haven't watched season two yet, or don't want spoilers, you might want to come back after you've seen the show.  

The thing I liked the most about season two was the lack of a big bad villain. Last season we had Kilgrave, who was of course played phenomenally by David Tennant, and while he makes an excellent villain, I thought it was nice here that the show explored themes of family and redemption, rather than having yet another slow build to a showdown with a villain. Tennant does of course make a brief appearance as Kilgrave, in moments late in the series when Jessica is doing battle with herself, and those moments are electric. And Janet McTeer was phenomenal as Alisa (Jessica's mother)- her performance made me root for her character even as I was a little scared of her, and disgusted by some of her actions. 

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Jessica goes through various stages of grief and denial throughout the season, as she struggles with the fact that her mother is still alive, even if she is a danger to those around her. And the scenes late in the season with them together- running together- were so well done. The stakes were so personal- Jessica is pulled in so many different directions even as she tries to reconnect with her mother she didn't know was alive- and it was refreshing to have that be the focus, rather than the usual superheroics and dastardly villain. 

I think the Marvel shows can learn from this- give us more intimate dramas, more nuanced storytelling, rather than the standard formula. I don't think everything worked however- the Trish storyline was a little weak for me. I liked the dynamic between Trish and Jessica, and I think they work off each other really well, so to see them as possible antagonists was a little disappointing. I mean only time will tell what season three will bring, but they look like they're set up to clash. And frankly the decision Trish made, both to seek out powers of her own, and to shoot Alisa right in front of Jessica, were problematic for me. 

The Jeri Hogarth subplot took up a lot of time and seemed unnecessary as well. I get the showrunners wanting to use Carrie Anne- Moss and provide her a springboard, but it didn't really bring anything to the table. And the competitor PI played by Terry Chen was a great addition to the cast, but in spite of some great moments with Jessica and an alliance with Hogarth at the end, it didn't really add a lot either. Still it was nice to see this alumnus of The 100 appear on the show. 

I thought Jessica was a little one note in the early going- I mean she drinks, she passes out or engages in casual sex, she's pretty rudderless- but by the end she showed real emotion, real conflict as she struggled not only with the actions of her mother, but also her burgeoning relationship with Oscar. Which, can I say, I am totally here for? The ending especially was poignant. Jessica may have lost, but she's also gained, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. 

You know what else worked for me? The setting and the general vibe. There was a noir-ish cast to the music, especially when Jessica was alone or wandering the streets of New York City, and her occasional voice-over just added to that. I thought it worked great, and even though several of the Marvel shows have utilized NYC well as a setting, it really seemed to be front and center here. It just added so much. I read somewhere too that the episodes were all directed by women, and as I reflected on that, it made a lot of sense. There was a definite lack of male gaze or gratuitous nudity, and the violence level seemed more reasonable too- again I think Netflix should take note and learn from this. 

For me this was easily the best Marvel show yet on Netflix. It broke the mold a bit, took some liberties perhaps with the formula, and for me that's all good. I hope we see more storytelling like this in the future, and more women directors running the ship. 

Can't Wait Wednesday #14/ Midweek Stuff

 So here's a midweek round up of what I'm reading watching, etc. Plus Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Wishful endings. So sit back, raise a cuppa, and see what's new! And share what you're up to.  

This week my Can't Wait pick is Number One Chinese restaurant.         

Number One Chinese Restaurant

What I'm Reading

The French Girl

What I'm Watching

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Misc Stuff

Tomorrow my first Movies That Suck post will be up. Here's a, um, taste. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR


 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back to The Broke and the Bookish so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR. These are always interesting because it can be hard to narrow it down to ten, you know? I didn't have too much trouble with this one, and it was nice looking ahead, so let's take a peek.      

Before Mars (Planetfall, #3)

Sounds suspenseful 

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Sounds refreshingly different

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers, #3)

A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet is one of my favorite books, so life will stop when this one comes out. 

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, #2)

Book 2 of Murderbot

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3)

Book 3 Murderbot

The Extinction Trials: Exile

I need this sequel like, um, yesterday! 

The Lies They Tell

I liked Grit by this author so looking forward to trying her new book. 

Girls' Night Out


The Underwater Ballroom Society

The cover alone is a good reason to get it, but underwater ballrooms?  

The Girl I Used to Be

I'm a sucker for these secrets-from-the-past-will-come-back-to-bite-you-in-the ass kinda books. 

The French Girl

Tuesday Tagline #83

The Honeymoon

There's trouble in paradise   

Monday, March 19, 2018

People Like Us

People Like Us

People Like Us is a boarding school mystery with a Pretty Little Liars vibe. Kay Donovan is the queen bee of a clique that runs the place basically, or they think they do. Along with her friends she is definitely at the top of the social ladder, but that changes quickly after a death at the school. The night of a school dance turns deadly when Jessica Lane is found dead in a lake on the school grounds. At first it seems like a terrible tragedy, but when Kay receives a message from a blogger threatening to spill her secrets, she has to choose between her friends or herself. 

Kay has secrets in her past, as befits a good YA book, but they're of the tragic variety. Something terrible happened and she carries a ton of guilt about it. She's also out for a soccer scholarship, her one ticket to escape the poverty she comes from, so she's under a lot of pressure too. The blogger meanwhile seems to know everything about certain events, things her and her friends did to another student, so Kay feels like she has no choice but to go along. I liked Kay, in spite of her history- even though she's a "mean girl" she was also sympathetic to me. I'm not sure other readers would agree, though, and one of the interesting aspects of this book for me would be- how do other readers react to Kay? 

I liked this book but I had some issues with it. For one thing, the mystery was different than I was expecting. Some of the things felt like they happened way too fast, which I'll get into in the spoiler section below. One thing I liked was that the author tried to really make it feel like they were at school. I mean, they had to actually study for exams, and it took time, you know? Not just a brief mention. Sounds like a little thing but the little things matter. So there were good and bad things here. It also felt a bit disjointed, in terms of the events and certain consequences, and that threw me a bit.  

Kay's best friend Brie and her ally Nola were both interesting characters. Kay has a thing for Brie but Brie has a girlfriend of her own. Kay feels like her and Brie have been on the cusp of a relationship several times, but it never happens. And Nola is a student who's an ace at hacking (naturally) and is able to help Kay try to get to the bottom of things. But everyone is also a suspect here, and the fun part of the book for me was trying to guess whodunit. And why. The whole blog angle was fun too, although a bit over the top? 

So all in all I'd say this is worth a read, with the caveat that it has a few realism issues. It's also, again, not exactly what I was expecting. I went back to read the synopsis and it's pretty accurate, so it may just have been an issue with my expectations, but it just didn't flow for me quite as easily as some of these kinds of books do. I thought Kay turned on her friends awfully quickly as well, at times, and that again affected my enjoyment. But otherwise this has a lot to recommend it, and I think anyone who enjoys a YA murder mystery should give it a look. 

Spoilers/ Discussion

I have a few additional thoughts. Kay and her likability were kind of fascinating to me, I'd love to know how other readers react to her and her choices. Several of her choices were problematic for me, not least the ease with which she turned on her friends, especially Tricia and Tai. On the one hand I truly believe she felt like she had no choice, but it was so sudden. And the realism issue with Tricia and how fast she was expelled from the school. It all happened in more or less a day? Also when you have multiple murders, why is the school still open? I can see it still operating perhaps after Jessica's death, but when Maddy is found dead in a tub on school grounds, just days after the first murder, I kinda think school might have closed for a while? 

The relationship between Kay and Brie is obviously a central part of the book, and one thing I liked was the way the author had me questioning everyone at one point or other. There were times when I thought Brie was the culprit, or Nola, and just about everyone else!  

The scavenger hunt angle played a bigger role than I thought it might, although it's clearly there in the synopsis so again that may just be me. I think I was just expecting a different story- maybe looking for the clique elements to play a bigger role? Kay made enemies of her friends so quickly that she became a pariah very early on, so rather than the clique dynamics I was expecting, this played out more as a murder mystery. Still, I enjoyed it, and some of the twists were a lot of fun. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sunday Post #237

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Date 
I had a good week although the weather has been iffy. It's still been cold and we're supposed to warm up- finally- I'll believe it when it happens. St. Patrick's Day is this weekend- is anyone doing anything fun to celebrate? I feel like March is totally flying by... 

I finished People Like Us this week and thought it was pretty good. My review will be up Monday. Obsidio came out this week so of course I had to jump on that! I loved it. A solid conclusion. And I also finished up Jessica Jones S2.     

Last week I reviewed Logan's Run (the movie) as well as The Rule of Mirrors. I also had a discussion post on nudity in film/ TV and got a ton of fun comments. This week I'll have my first Movies That Suck post- I'll be looking at Lake Placid and on top of all that- a discussion post on Jessica Jones 2.           

People Like UsThe Rule of Mirrors (The Vault of Dreamers, #2)Image result for logan's runThe French GirlRelated image

Song of the week 


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Hawkeye: Kate Bishop, Vol. 1: Anchor PointsSunburn


Here's a teaser from my first Movie That Sucks.

From Game of Thrones 


I like this one for the mysteriousness of it. It makes me think of an abandoned stronghold somewhere in the north of Middle-earth. It just has that vibe- and who is the figure holding the torch in the entrance?    

This one has a completely different vibe- maybe something like Beorn's house from Hobbit?  

This looks like trouble


And... my comic of the week was

Black Bolt vs. Medusa - Ryan Stegman