April 2019 - Assassins, Space Monsters, and Armageddon

Well, I managed to get the Very Worst cold and we’ve had our first tornado of the season. How is your spring going? Here are some of the things I enjoyed in April…

MOVIES + TV

Avengers: Endgame
I can’t quite say that all of it made sense and I was not very happy with the way the filmmakers kept using someone’s weight as a joke, but I still overall enjoyed the spectacle and experience of Endgame; an appropriately epic and satisfying conclusion to 11 years of movies. I have a weird aversion to rewatching most MCU movies (with some exceptions), but I could definitely watch the final battle a few more times.

Killing Eve
This was one of those situations where “I’ll just watch one episode” turned into accidentally staying up until 3am binging the entire first season. Killing Eve is an amazing showcase for some phenomenally talented actresses and I was enthralled. The show follows the increasingly obsessive relationship between Villanelle (Jodie Comer), a sociopathic assassin, and Eve (Sandra Oh), the MI5 officer who is trying to stop her. It is full of spy intrigue, tense situations, and a surprising amount of humor.

VIDEO GAMES

Prey
I started this game when it first came out in 2017 but got stuck at a difficult bit and ended up taking a very long break. I started it up again in April and had a much better time. The developer, Arkane Studios, is very good at creating beautiful, haunting locations that are incredibly fun to explore (they also created the Dishonored series). Despite having a more-or-less silent protagonist, the game manages to tell a really interesting story through the environment (an art-deco space station in the midst of an alien outbreak), well acted non-player characters, and various emails and audio-logs you find along the way. If you like really creative first person stealth/action games, put this one on your list.

Far Cry: New Dawn
I also blazed through Far Cry: New Dawn this month, which, in contrast to Prey, is one of those games where a silent protagonist doesn’t work well at all. Throughout the entire game I kept wishing I was playing a character who actually reacted to things and had a story. That being said, I still had fun playing it. New Dawn sticks to the tried-and-true Far Cry formula of taking over enemy bases, battling with charismatic, ruthless villains, and accidentally setting everything on fire as you mash buttons in a mad dash to escape a wildlife ambush involving two bears and a very angry wolverine. It’s not an outstanding game, but it’s fun junk food. Plus, bonus points for battle companions Horatio, a wild boar, and Timber, a very good dog.

BOOKS

Bloom (Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau)
A coming-of-age story (with a smidge of romance), Bloom is a lovely graphic novel written by Kevin Panetta and beautifully illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau, which focuses on Ari, a young man full of young-man-angst who desperately wants to do more with his life than work at his family’s struggling bakery.

Good Omens (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman)
Many years ago, my family and I listened to the Good Omens audiobook while road-tripping to Canada and I accidentally slept through a large portion of it. Car trips make me sleepy. Since Amazon is getting ready to premier a new cinematic adaptation, I figured this would be a good time to properly re-read the book while actually awake. I’m a fan of both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and I really like this combined work. It’s silly and satirical and smart and just an all-round fun book full of memorable characters and clever writing. It’s kind of hard to concisely describe the story, but basically it’s time for Armageddon, the four horsemen have been summoned, the Antichrist is an 11-year-old boy, and a demon, an angel, a witch, and a novice witch-hunter join forces to save the world.

A Duke in Disguise (Cat Sebastian)
Cat Sebastian is one of my favorite historical romance authors. Her books are full of fun twists on HistRom tropes and always feature positive LGBTQ+ characters and happy endings. A Duke in Disguise is the second in her Regency Imposters series, but you don’t have to read them in order (this one actually takes place first). Our main characters are Verity, an anarchist newspaper publisher who has decided to print a steamy adult novel, and Ash, the engraver, and long-time family friend, who she hires to do the illustrations. Oh, and Ash is secretly the lost heir to a dukedom. 😬

What It Takes (Jude Sierra)
This was my first Jude Sierra book but after I finished it I quickly added the rest of her work to my “to-read” list. What it Takes follows two boys, Milo and Andrew, best friends since childhood, who grow up together in Cape Cod. Milo’s father is emotionally and physically abusive, and Andrew is Milo’s sanctuary and support. But as they grow up, emotions and attractions become confusing and ultimately they part ways for college. Years later Milo returns home and the two men are forced to deal with a whole bunch of emotional baggage as they try to reconnect and address their long-simmering love. Be prepared for lots of angst, longing, and warm, squishy feels.

An Unconditional Freedom (Alyssa Cole)
So last month I went on at length about how great Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series is and this month I will tell you about how great her Loyal League series is. Alyssa Cole is great, is what I’m saying. An Unconditional Freedom is definitely the darkest book in this series, which follows a group of spies in the civill war trying to fight the confederacy. The main protagonist in the story is Daniel, who was born free but kidnapped as a young man and sold into slavery. When An Unconditional Freedom begins, Daniel has been rescued and is working for the Loyal League, but is haunted by his past and can’t see beyond his all-consuming need to burn the world down. He is paired with Janeta, a new recruit from Cuba who is secretly working as a spy for the South. This is a tough story to read but ultimately very hopeful. My one complaint is that I found Janeta’s naiveté about slavery to be, at times, hard to swallow. Her character was really hard to sympathize with for a good portion of the book and I did a lot of really long frustrated sighing. But the book is about growth and change and that’s definitely what she does. It just takes a while to get there.

ART

Show prep continues, so April art was lots and lots of drawing and planning. Here are some robins!

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