I must admit that I spend the majority of my free-time either blogging or watching Netflix, when I’m not being cannon-balled by a little pug, that is. As such, the majority of things that appear here are only found on Netflix, but, to be honest, I’m sure most of you have Netflix and share my obsession too!
Making A Murderer (Netflix)
I started this on a whim one day, after trawling through the documentaries on Netflix, and was instantly hooked. The first two episodes, which deal with Stephen Avery’s first arrest are the most interesting, with the middle section dragging somewhat. For anyone who doesn’t know, Making A Murderer is a true-crime documentary detailing a murder court case. The accused man, Stephen Avery, had previously served 20 years in jail for a rape crime that was overturned when DNA evidence provided concrete proof that he wasn’t the rapist. A year or so after being released from prison, a young woman is found dead on Avery’s property, and he is the last person to have seen her alive. His lawyers argue that the police planted evidence on Avery’s property and that his suspected accomplice, his young school-age cousin, Brendan Dassey, is coerced into giving a false confession. The storytelling is masterful throughout, as you’re constantly changing your mind whilst watching it as to whether Avery is guilty or not guilty. Honestly, part of me hopes that it does turn out to be some massive police cover-up that’s found out years down the line, as that will make for an explosive third season! (The second one is already in the works, mostly following the story of how Brendan Dassey’s conviction was overturned due to a coerced testimony and he was then re-sentenced following a new trial). This is the ultimate binge-watch TV, and I’d highly recommend it!
Friends (Netflix, DVD, TV)
I think I’ve spoken about how happy I am that this on Netflix before, but I’m still loving it. Sometimes, after watching something horror or crime-heavy like some of the other programmes on this list, it’s nice to pop on an episode of Friends just before bed to wind down. Since re-watching, I can confirm that Ross and Joey are trash, but Phoebe is good people.
American Horror Story, Season 4: Freak Show (Netflix, DVD)
I’m so gutted that I only have one full season of AHS that I haven’t watched now (Hotel), as I absolutely freakin’ LOVE this show and everything about it. From the imaginative stories, to the actors and the intricate philosophies behind the season arc. Freak Show is, as you’d expect, set amongst a Freak Show in Florida in the 1950s. Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) is in charge of Elsa Mar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, but she knows that freak shows are a dying breed. Over the years, she has taken on a manner of disfigured and disabled individuals (who she calls her ‘monsters’) and offers them a home and a family. However, a con artist discovers that people pay high prices for ‘freak’ specimens and infiltrates the group, hoping to sell one of them to the highest bidder. There’s also a very strange side-story featuring a killer clown who abducts children who is absolutely terrifying. If you’re new to American Horror Story, and the word ‘horror’ in the title is putting you off, I’d suggest starting with Seasons 3 and 4, and then arching back to 1 and 2, as these middle series are much more plot-driven with barely any jump-scares.
Witless – Series 2 and 3 (BBC3 iPlayer)
I remember watching Series 1 of Witless years and years ago when it first aired, and being so annoyed that it seemingly ended mid-episode. Well, I happened to chance upon the next 2 series on BBC iPlayer, and they’re just as good. If you like BBC3’s comedy and female-driven comedy, then you’ll love this. The episodes are 25 minutes long with 5 episodes in a series, so very consumable. The basic plot is that two friends are based in witness protection after witnessing a gang shooting, but soon take matters into their own hands so they can get back to their ‘normal’ lives quicker, with disastrous consequences.
I literally never ever visit the cinema, as I don’t usually have the attention required to sit through a film. There are some exceptions of course, and thankfully, Black Panther is one of them. If nothing else, I salute it for casting black actors and using African names throughout, something that may seem patronising, but so so few Hollywood films have managed to do this. (Think Scarlett Johannsen’s casting in Ghost In The Shell, or the character of Misa Amane in Deathnote being changed to Mia Sutton in the Netflix film and you’ll start to see where I’m coming from). Also, the female characters in this film are BADASS and I want to know them and worship them and be them. Shuri is a better Q than Q ever was in the Bond franchise and Okoye is the fiercest warrior ever, and I almost want to take Krav Maga back up again so I can be her. I’ll definitely be asking for this on DVD for Christmas so I can watch it again and again.
Ah, books, I’m always surrounded by books, whenever Morrigan isn’t ripping them out of my hands, anyway. Prices given are Waterstones prices correct at time of publishing. Here’s everything I read from January – March this year (a blog post reviewing EVERYTHING I’ve read in 2018 is going live real soon, so this is just a taster!) :
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend (paperback, £6.99)
OK, so this is technically a kid’s book, but bear with me as this is the best book you will read this year. Which is a bold claim, as it was published in paperback in January, and I read it in March, but that’s just how good this book is. Remember how you felt the first time that you read Harry Potter, when you felt warm and enveloped and included in this fantastical world? That’s how Nevermoor will make you feel. Morrigan Crow is doomed to die on her 11th birthday, but Jupiter North whisks her away just before midnight through the clock-face and into the world of Nevermoor. He then proceeds to enter her for 3 ‘Trials’ so she can become a member of his society, known as the ‘Wundrous Society’. If she fails, she’ll be sent home, back to the monsters…
Honestly, all you need to know to understand how great this book is, is that I named my dog after the main character in it. Miss Morrigan Princess Nugget is, first and foremost, a love-letter to Nevermoor and the warmth it gave my soul, when I didn’t have any of my own. I give all of the credit for my mental health recovery in February to my dog, and this book.
Almost Love by Louise O’Neill (£12.99, hardback)
Louise O’Neill has previously written 2 Young Adult novels, which were both hard-hitting and fantastic. This, her first ‘adult’ novel that deals with the subject of obsessive love, is a teensy little bit of a let-down compared to her other works. Don’t get me wrong, I finished the book and wanted to keep reading, but it was missing the imagination of her previous two books, and it never really ‘got going’. Girl meets older man who uses her, girl becomes obsessed with man, relationship breaks down and girl never really gets over it, destroying her next relationship in the process. Girl is also fairly unlikeable, as she’s intolerably mean to both her closest friends, her boyfriend and her father whilst taking little responsibility for her own actions. As an individual who’s not particularly likeable myself (and I say this with as much flippancy as possible), I didn’t find Sarah, the protagonist, too hard to relate to, but I’d imagine that some readers would struggle. What is done really well, however, is the description of Irish culture, most notably how modern Dublin is portrayed, compared to Sarah’s home-town of Dunfinnan, which she sees as horribly backwards. If, like me, you love O’Neill and/or Irish literature, this is worth a read. If not, you might not be so kind towards this book as I’ve been here.
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (£8.99, paperback)
I completely dismissed this book in hardback – it didn’t sell too well and the blurb was less than enticing. Even a Man Booker short-list accolade couldn’t tempt me. Now that it’s out in paperback, with a pretty new cover and more descriptive plot synopsis on the back cover, I was instantly won over. Set in America, it’s told from the point of view of a 14-year-old girl, Linda, who lives out in an abandoned commune in a run-down cottage in the woods. She is ostracised from her peers at school and border-line neglected by her parents, although they don’t actively mis-treat her. The turning point comes when a young family move in across the way from her family’s cottage – a man, a young mother and a 4-year-old boy, Paul. They take Linda in, allowing her to babysit the little boy and join their family, until tragedy strikes. I was halfway through this book before I stopped turning the pages and checked the time – it’s written extraordinarily well.
And that’s it! What have you been enjoying lately? I’d love to know – let me know your recommendations in the comments! See y’all real soon. P.