Hi, friends! How’s everything going? I hope everything is well and if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon!
Today I am…*checks calendar and winces*…well, it would appear I am running late…again. I haven’t had the best of reading years this year, but I was inspired by Sophia at Bookwyrming Thoughts to do a twist on the mid year book freakout tag (originally created by Chami and Ely) that takes into account movies/series, podcasts, and music! While I haven’t been reading much, I have consumed so other entertainment media! So let’s take a look at some of my favorites and least favorites of the year so far…
best read of 2022 so far
So, if you’re aware of the fact that I’ve been in a reading slump and only read The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake in the past year, then this one probably seems obvious. That being said if you read my recent review of this book, you also probably know that I did genuinely love this book! I am so obsessed with the characters of this book, each for their own reason! And that ending? *screams* If you haven’t yet read this book, you should definitely get on that asap!
top five most anticipated books of the second half of 2022
💀 Belladonna by Adalyn Grace This gothic fantasy looks so intriguing and I’ve only seen rave reviews for it, so I can’t wait to get my grubby little book goblin hands on it!
✒️ Babel by R.F. Kuang Who isn’t excited for this dark academia start to beloved author R.F. Kuang’s second series? Plus I’ve only seen rave reviews from readers and reviewers with ARCs, especially readers of color! I’m so eager to finally get to this one, I can hardly wait!!
👁️ The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake As I mentioned above, I’ve fallen for the characters, world, and plot of The Atlas Six. And after that twist of an ending I’m ready to find out what’s next for the gang!
🔦 The Luminaries by Susan Dennard I subscribe to Sooz’s newsletter, so I’ve been hearing a bit about the behind the scenes of this monsster hunter novel for years now and it’s got me hyped! The cool thing about this book is it first started as as “choose your own adventure” Twitter poll thread run by Sooz! I never saw the thread until way after it had ended and The Luminaries was announced, but I’m so excited to see what’s become of it in the book!
🔥 Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn Legendborn was one of my favorite books of 2020 and the Black girl representation warmed my heart! I’ve been positively desperate to see what’s next for Bree and her friends after the events of book one, so you can bet this upsoming release is at the top of my TBR!
movies & series
favorite movies/series of 2022 so far
First up we have Netflix’s adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse series, Shadow and Bone! I loved this series so freaking much!! As an adaptation I thought it was done impeccably, largely because it stayed true to the core of Bardugo’s original characters. Because of this, even when the events of the series differed from those in the book, the characters reactions still felt very authentic. I even liked the new plotline for the Crows (which was the major difference from the books)! All of the characters were so intriguing and loveable too—the acting and directing was on point in that regard as well. And the plot progressed and played out perfectly! I’m so excited for season two and I can’t wait to be back in Netflix’s version of the Grishaverse!
Next up we have Hulu’s original series, Only Murders in the Building. I’ve been obsessed with mysteries ever since watching Knives Out and starting Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series, so when I saw Hulu’s trailer for their mystery/dramedy Only Murders in the Building, I just knew I had to check it out! And my hunch that I’d love it was correct! The show follows three tenants of an NYC apartment building who decide to start a true crime podcast all about their attempt to investigate a mysterious death in their building. Of course, hilarity and hijincks ensue, but danger isn’t far behind as they may have stumbled onto a mystery that’s a bit more than they can handle. This show has that rare quality of being both funny and mysterious and slightly thrilling and I can’t get enough of it! If you’re a fan of mysteries, definitely add this on to you’re list! I can’t wait to dive into season two!
My next series obsession is The Wheel of Time. I’ve never read the original books by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, so I can’t really comment on the series as an adaptation, but as a series on its own I’m positively obsessed with it! I think the show does a really good job of building its pace, plot, and characters and keeping you intrigued and interested without overloading and overwhelming you. I’m someone who’s loved the Lord of the Rings film franchise since I was a kid and I feel like The Wheel of Time really spoke to that part of me. Plus, I love how the plot really works to subvert some of the classic fantasy tropes. And that ending?! Aaaaaah—I need to know what happens next! I know the show has gotten mixed reviews from fans of the books, but it definitely has a fan in me and I can’t wait to see where future seasons take the story, world, and characters!
Last but certainly not least is WandaVision. Honestly I’m probably the last person to finish this series and I’m pretty sure most everyone knows about it, but just in case…WandaVision is a MCU limited series that’s a genre mashup all about Wanda Maximoff (a.k.a. “Scarlet Witch”) and how she enchants an entire town to play out sitcoms starring her, Vision, and their “family.” As a content warning: the series is very much about struggling with overwhelming grief after suffering great losses, so if that’s a trigger for you, you may want to tread with caution. As for myself, I, like Wanda, have dealth with a great deal of loss in my life and still to this day struggle with the resultant grief a great deal, so I really appreciated the way the show represented those things. I found Wanda’s character and motivations quite empathetic, albeit heartbreaking, and I found myself rooting both for and against her. I also enjoyed the way the show mixed genres, from sitcom to sci fi and drama—it added some necessary fun! The ending was bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Wanda and everyone else in the MCU.
Honorable Mention: The Sandman (Netflix)
newest favorite characters of 2022 so far
Given what I said about relating to and empathizing with Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision in the above section, it’s probably no surprise that she’s a new favorite character of mine. I love the complex nature of Wanda, how she’s not a real villain, she’s just a good person who’s grieving and tying her best to make it through in any way she can but in her effort she’s ended up affecting other people negatively. It’s a great metaphor for the old saying “hurt people hurt people” but showing how hurt people can even hurt others unintentionally. I love Wanda in all her good hearted, grieving messiness, and I’m looking forward to finding out what’s gonna be next for her.
Another new favorite character of mine is Bela Malhotra from The Sex Lives of College Girls. Bela is a hilariously awkward extrovert who’s eager to lose her virginity and who you can’t help but love! At least, I couldn’t help but love, probably because I saw parts of myself reflected in Bela. Not in the “eager to lose her viginity” part, but more in the “awkward extrovert who’s eager to make new friends and sometimes really messes it up” kinda way. Bela reminds me of the fact that no matter how old you are, inside all of us is an awkward teenager who just wants to be liked and seen as cool, and I love that about her character!
most disappointing movies/series of 2022 so far
The most disappointing movie for me this year was definitely Death on the Nile. I just found it so incredibly boring—plus I guessed half of the solution to the mystery by the middle of the film! I usually enjoy mysteries, but I just felt like this one was rather simple and the way that the film was shot didn’t add any suspense. I also felt like the characters were rather basic and lacked in depth.
most surprising movies/series of 2022 so far
I’m not a massive fan of comedy or even dramedy, so I was surprised to find myself really loving the new HBO Max show produced by Mindy Kahling, The Sex Lives of College Girls. The show is about four college new friends navigating their way through the highs and lows of their freshman year of college and their newfound sex lives that comes with the territory. The show gives me major Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants vibes, but ten times more comedic! When I think about it, it’s probably not strange I enjoy this show considering I love the other show Kahling’s produced, Never Have I Ever. Anyhoo, the characters of this show are so endearing and the shenanigans they get into are hilarious and typically heartwarming. I haven’t heard many people talking about this show, but it definitely deserves more views!
movie/series that made me a weepy mess
I’d be lying if I didn’t say the answer is clearly Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. I’ll admit: it wasn’t my thing (I’m more into action and adventure, fantasy, and sci fi and not so much into “artsy films”), but one thing this film did manage to do was get me to cry. Look, as someone who grew up for a long time with a Chinese stepfather and stepbrothers, I can recognize how Everything, Everywhere, All At Once is a deeply Chinese American film, especially in its themes. And in that way, as someone who’s not culturally Chinese, the film is not for me and thus it’s not really here nor there whether I ultimately “get” it. That being said,one thing I did get and that got me was the depiction of mother/daughter relationships and also the depiction of having depression as a young person. That part hit me right in the heart. And so, yeah. I cried. Like, a lot.
movies/series that made me happy
I think at this point there isn’t anyone who doesn’t think that The Summer I Turned Pretty is the most summery series of 2022, and I’d have to agree. It’s also a series that has made me so happy whilst watching it. This series follows Belly, a teen girl who’s “blossoming into herself” and her two (and a half) love interests—two brothers named Conrad and Jeremiah—during a summer where their lives start to become increasingly “entangled.” The Summer I Turned Pretty has me so nostalgic for teenage summers and that feeling of puppy love and first love. I also love how the show explores both romantic relationships and friendships and gives each type of relationship equally as much weight and importance.
top three most anticipated movies and series of the second half of 2022
💍 Rings of Power As I mentioned previoiusly, I’m a big fan of the Lord of the Rings film franchise, so even though this production isn’t quite fully associated with those films, I cannot wait to see it! Especially after enjoying The Wheel of Time, I’m feeling confident in Amazon Prime’s ability to pull off a fantasy of this scale!
🗡️ The Glass Onion (Knives Out 2) Knives Out quickly became one of my favorite films after I saw it back in 2019, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating the sequel! We don’t have many details save for the title, that it’s gonna be released this fall, and that it’s being produced/distributed by Netflix, but I have high hopes!
🕸️ Wednesday I’ve always loved The Addams Family and Wednesday Addams is a favorite of mine, so I was thrilled to hear she was getting her own show—and with Latinx representation to boot! The recent photos and trailer have me so hyped up for this upcoming release and I can’t wait to finally see it!
best fiction audiodrama of 2022 so far
My favorite fiction audiodrama podcast this year has hands down been an Audible exclusive podcast, Moriarty: The Devil’s Game. It’s a podcast that delves into the backstory of notorious villain, James Moriarty, from the Sherlock Holmes universe. It picks up with Moriarty—a renown mathematician—finding his fiancee dead and becoming a suspect in her murder. Desperate to have his name cleared and to find his fiancee’s killer, he writes to Sherlock Holmes, but—and here’s the twist—Holmes is immediately convinced of Moriarty’s guilt! The podcast has a super interesting plot, intriguing characters, and top-notch production. Sadly, it’s only available to Audible members for free, but if you have an Audible subscription then definitely check it out.
best educational and/or news podcast of 2022 so far
I grew up in and still live about fifteen minutes outside of Washington, D.C., so it’s probably no surprise that I’m a politics obsessed news junkie. I mean, national and international policy changes have an even greater affect on people in my hometown area given that most everyone works for the government in some way or another. Which is why those of us who grew up in this area are keenly aware of just how imperative it is to be an active participant in government at every level—local, state, and federal. And that starts with being informed. Which is where Pod Save America comes in. A podcast hosted by former high level Obama staffers (jargon translation: former high level White house aides/employees), Pod Save America keeps you updated on all the latest political news, big and small, from the perspective of the Democrat party. As an active progressive Democrat (*cough* Marxist *cough*), I find this podcast invaluable (and surprisingly progressive for former Obama staffers…but that’s a tangent for another day…). The podcast hosts do a great job balancing their analysis of political news and policy decisions between liberal and progressive and between an activist mindset and a political mindset. Overall, if you’re a Democrat, Social Democrat, Independent,or even a recovering Republican (*whispers* or a budding Marxist like me 😉), I highly recommend this wonderful podcast!
Now that I’ve gushed over politics, it’s time for me to discuss yet another nerdy interest of mine—history. Specifically, Dark History, a podcast hosted by true crime YouTuber Bailey Sarian that’s all about the weird, kooky, and downright dark history of random topics! From MKUltra to the Americans With Disabilities Act (a.k.a. the “ADA”) to things as seemingly mundane as banana companieas and even popcorn, Bailey covers the eerie and/or tragic history of it all. One of the things I love about this podcast is how Bailey really is able to show how the dark events of our past still continue to haunt us with lingering effects to this very day. She also does a good job of honoring the victims (both past and present) of these events by leaving no stone unturned when telling the (his)story. But that certainly doesn’t make for a dour or depressing time, either—she definitely adds some much needed (respectful!) humor into the mix as well! Listening to Dark History has reminded me just how interesting history is and that, as always, truth is often stranger than fiction.
best comedy podcast of 2022 so far
I discovered Sarah Schauer and Brittany Broski’s YouTube channels this year and fell in love with their content, so when I saw that these comedic cousins had a podcast together called Violating Community Guidelines, I figured I’d give it a listen. And let me tell you, that was a great decision! The podcast is about all things internet-related and the hosts are hilarious! Like, I legit laugh out loud (and not a tiny nose huff laugh, mind you—an actual “hahaha!” laugh!) when I listen to episodes! And as two people who grew up during the dawn of the internet age and who have made their living off of being comedic “influencers” for a good while now (first on Vine and now on YouTube), I can’t think of any better suited hosts. If you’re looking to add some laughter to your life, I highly recommend this podcast!
top five favorite songs of 2022 so far
🎶 “SUNDOWN” by Jack Harlow I’m a big fan of music of any genre that has that get down funk and groove and this is one of those songs for sure!
🎶 “Otro Atardecer” by Bad Bunny ft.The Marias I’ve enjoyed Bad Bunny’s music for a while now and I discovered this song right at the beginning of summer, which is perfect since it has such a summery vibe!
🎶 “Quiet On Set” by Remi Wolf This is a song that I can’t really explain why I like it other than that it’s catchy, hahaha!
🎶 “I’m A Lady” by Santigold I’ve been a big fan of Santigold since I was a teen and this song is actually an old favorite that I “rediscovered” this year.
🎶 “my strange additction” by Billie Eilish I’m kinda split down the middle when it comes to all of her music. I generally enjoy her more upbeat songs and feel kinda “meh” about her slower song. Anyhoo, this kooky, upbeat song of Billie’s has been a hit with me.
favorite new (debut or new-to-me) artist of 2022
I’ve really been digging Blu DeTiger lately. I discovered her via Tik Tok and Instagram and decided to take a deeper look into her music, which I found myself really enjoying!
most disappointing song or album of 2022 so far
Weirdly enough, I don’t have one? I don’t tend to linger much on music that isn’t my taste, so I honestly can’t think of any album or song that’s been super disappointing…
most surprising song, album, or artist of 2022 so far
I’ve been shocked to find myself really vibing with Doja Cat’s music this year! Previously, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the few snippets I;d heard of her music, but this year I dug more into her discography and I’ve found myself really enjoying her stuff!
song that made me teary-eyed
I went over this in my post about lyrics that hit me hard, but Gretta Ray’s cover of “The Deepest Of Sighs, The Frankest of Shadows” brings me to tears every. single. time.
song that made me joyful
“Dum Tak” by Dana Salah ft. NASIR never fails to make me want to dance!
listen to the playlist
spill the beans, friends!
- What are some of your favorites of the year so far?
- Do you have any disappointments of the year so far?
- What are you still looking forward to?
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