Monday, January 4, 2016

Best in Movies, Music, Books, and My Final 2015 Wrap-Up - December 2015


HAPPY NEW YEAR!


I do know it's January 5th, and that I'm, as usual, late to the party. However, I really like the monthly wrap up hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction, and I'm not going to get a little thing like being behind get in my way! For info on the link up and how to join, click here. (All images belong to respective copyright holders and are used for effect, and zero financial gain)

Despite the capslock above, this is how I feel about it being 2016
December seemed like it was gone in a second, and hardly marked due to a suspicious lack of snow. I wasn't complaining, as I had to drive just about every day, but I did miss the snow for Christmas and Cross-Country skiing purposes. Other than Christmas, work, more work, and Star Wars, my December was pretty quiet. I did manage to get up a few more posts and reviews, which was a wonderful thing.

I normally stick pretty much to books for the blog, and that isn't going to change, but I already did a comprehensive year in books post (more about that later), so I thought it might be fun to cover some other areas in my December recap. After my post rundown, I have some very short Top 5 for the Year lists of things other than books (and videos/gifs/etc). Also, since this was my first "official" blogging year, I have a few questions for you at the bottom of this post.

December Book Reviews:


  1. Abomination by Gary Whitta - 4 stars
  2. Winter by Marissa Meyer - (4.5 stars) & Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho - 4 stars
  3. Dragonfly by Julia Golding - 3.75 stars
Only four reviews (sigh), but I read a lot of books! Also, I wrote about 8 more reviews for a local publication, so I suppose I shouldn't feel too bad?


Writing Related Posts:


Only one distinctly writing related post in December, my Beautiful Books entry for NaNo project, The Butler Did It - but there was a very long snippet to prove I was actually writing!

Tags/Awards/Etc.:


I finally got around to a few more of these - all very fun tags from my kind fellow bloggers. Naturally, my answers involved writing, silliness, and multitudes of gifs:


#1 revealed some random facts (including how many siblings I have), and no one even tried to guess all my dragon gifs. Consider yourself challenged.
#2 brought out my rarely-revealed more sensitive side as I had to express the things I'm thankful for.
#3 explored how my family celebrates Christmas, and introduced the hunt-for-the-pickle challenge

YEAR END POSTS:


  1. Top 10 Books I Read in 2015 - It was definitely a challenge to narrow them down
  2. Top 10 New Favorite Characters in 2015 - Not as hard as #1 - still hard
  3. 2015 in Books, and What's Next for 2016 - okay, so this was posted in January, but it is a comprehensive look at my entire year in books for 2015, so it works. This was a template put out by Jaime from The Perpetual Page Turner, and it had a ton of fun questions.

So that was it for me on the blog in December - but I hope to get more posts and reviews up in 2016!

Also, now that it is 2016, here are a few short lists of the non-book bests of 2015, a list of the top albums I listened to, and my general randomness:


Top 5 Movies for 2015:

I'm not much of a movie person. I watch them, enjoy them, and typically forget I saw them. If I didn't forget, you know I liked it! So here were my favorite movies I saw in 2015 (and reasons):

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - 9 out of 10 stars.

 I am a Star Wars girl, and I was waiting for this with a mixture of excitement and dread. As you can see by my rating, I loved it. It was fun and exciting, and a great theater experience. The new characters were wonderful, the classic characters were epic, and it was so. much. better. than the prequels.


2. Boruto: Naruto the Movie - 9 out of 10 stars. 

Seriously, I loved this movie. The animated action sequences were breathtaking - so beautiful that the fighting was pretty much my favorite part. And then there was the Sasuke-Naruto partnership/broship where they both deal with being dads and warriors and awesome.


3. Ant-Man - 8.75 out of 10 stars. 

Ant-Man was hilarious. But it was also a stand-out from the other MARVEL movies in the past few years. After Winter Soldier and Avengers, it might be my 3rd best MARVEL film ever. It was like reading an old comic book - fun, colorful, just sweet enough, with great action and delightful characters.

4. Creed - 8.5 out of 10 stars. 

Well made, directed, and acted, with a ton of heart, Creed was definitely one of the most compelling stories onscreen this year. I am a confessed Rocky fan, but I felt like Creed broke new ground with confidence, while staying true to what made the originals good. My biggest qualms with the film were moral ones, to be honest.

5. Cinderella - 8 out of 10 stars. 

Surprised you, didn't I? While I seriously considered The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mockingjay: Part II, I just liked Cinderella a little more. I really like Disney films, and I felt that Cinderella actually improved on the animated classic. It was charming, sweet but not saccharine, competently acted and directed, and absolutely beautiful. I love costume dramas and epics, and the costumes in Cinderella were exquisite. Also, I went with my little sisters, who were all completely in love with the movie, and that definitely helped.

I really didn't see a lot of movies this year, and there were a few I missed that I wanted to see (The Martian, Far From the Madding Crowd, Macbeth, Mad Max: Fury Road, etc), so I suppose I'll have to add them to my endless list of things to rent.


Music:


As for music, I continued my trend of zero rhyme or reason to my music tastes. Thanks to this handy Nerdist article about how Spotify tracks us all and ranks the most uniquely popular songs to a region, I know that my current playlists have more in common with citizens in Johor Bahru, Malaysia than they do with Grand Rapids, MI (closest city) . . .


Also thanks to the stalkerish quality of web music services, I also know my most listened to bands, albums, songs, so I'm putting that information overload to use by listing them here!


My most listened to playlist: Jupiter Jive (linked to Spotify)



Featuring dance-y hits from all over the world, and whatever attitude-filled tracks I decide to throw in, my JJ playlist was my go-to for writing, driving, dancing, cleaning, etc., and I listened to a lot of stuff that wasn't really my thing, before. If you don't know, Jupiter Jive is the dancing thief whose existence shapes a lot of my current WIP - The Last Coffee Shop. Much like his personality, the music on this list has pervaded my life, writing, and this book for the past year.

Most listened to soundtracks: 

Tie Between The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies  and the Attack on Titan (Anime) soundtrack


Despite my mixed feelings on the movies, I have nothing bad to say about Master Howard Shore and his epic compositions. They are splendid for writing to.



The Attack on Titan soundtrack is a brilliant international fusion of instruments/musical styles. Not only does it fit the multi-national anime well, it provides a varying and haunting soundscape that is perfect for writing post-apocalyptic fiction.

Top 5 Most Listened to Songs in 2015:

Yes, they're all on my Jupiter Jive Playlist

1. Collar Full -   by Panic! at the Disco


2. Fools Gold - by Fitz and the Tantrums

3. Dance With Me Tonight by Olly Murs

4. Work This Body by Walk the Moon


5. Fantastic Baby by BIGBANG

That last one is a leeetle embarrassing - considering that I racked up enough listens in 2.5 months of 2015 to make it my fifth most played song of 2015 . . .

Top 5 Most Listened to Albums in 2015:

Jupiter Jive stuff, mostly.

1. All This Bad Blood by Bastille
2.Vices and Virtues  by Panic! at the Disco
3. More Than Just a Dream by Fitz and the Tantrums
4. Dark Before Dawn by Breaking Benjamin
5. Talking is Hard by Walk the Moon

Top 5 Bands/Artists I Discovered and/or Got Hooked on in 2015:


1. Smallpools - an indie pop band whose song Street Fight was about my 10th most played song.

2. Ella Henderson - British X-Factor songstress with an incredible voice. Ghost was my 6th most played song this year.

3. Amaranthe - Swedish symphonic metal band with 3! vocalists and a great sound. I just couldn't believe I'd never heard of them before.

4. BIGBANG - Kpop/hip-hop sensations that I had consciously avoided listening to but was aware of for years. But, like a virus, I managed to catch fandom in record time. To be honest, I'd sort of avoided Kpop because everyone I knew who listened to it was basically addicted. And now . . . EXO, SHINee, Shinhwa, fill in the blanks - raises hand - I'm a fan. But I have a marked BIGBANG preference. Try one of their older songs, Blue, for a gentler introduction.

5. Abraham Mateo - this Spanish pop singer is the newest addition to my instant-like list. He may resemble a brunette Bieber, but don't be fooled - the kid can sing AND dance like a boss. His lovely vocals caught my ear when I was listening to a New Latin Beats playlist. Check out I'm Feeling So Good for a song you can dance to.


So that's it for movies and music. As far as 2016 goes - the movie I'm looking forward to the most is Captain America: Civil War. I'm also pretty excited about Doctor Strange though. And music, who knows? I just listened to a song by a Malaysian band that needs more investigation!


In books, I have some reviews lined up for releases that I'm really excited about. And of course, once I know more to share about my own book release, you won't hear the end of it.

Before I go, I have a three simple questions for you readers. As a newer blogger, I still feel really clueless sometimes, and I am always happy to receive advice!


1. Is there anything at all that you think I could be doing better, or should be doing? Honestly.

2. Is there anything you'd like to see, in particular, on my blog?

3. How often do you actually read book reviews (not just mine, any reviews!)


Thanks a bunch for reading, commenting, interacting, and for making 2015 a welcoming year for me in the blogosphere!


Happy Reading - May 2016 Bring You Many Bookish Joys!
-RH