Updated: Jan 31, 2020
Wow-ee it's been a while since I've done a Monthly Nerd Life Update!
For those of you new to the That Nerd Life blog, whereas the rest of the month I post reviews and insights about all things nerd-culture, the "Monthly" Nerd Update is where I share a broader snapshot of the books, movies, games, and more that I'm enjoying that month.
Since it's been so long though, I have a feeling this month's update will be more of a quarterly overview, as I have a BUNCH to share with you all! So, let's get to it!
It turns out that a person can watch A LOT of movies in three months. Back in September, on my birthday, I went and watch It: Part II. Although I generally enjoyed the movie and thought the plot was well done, I had some issues with It: Part II on a social level, regarding some ways the movie abused sexual orientation, culture, and gender roles.
Despite my concerns with It though, the movie excited me enough to become the lynchpin for my horror movie marathon in October. My partner and I had a months-worth of Halloween festivities planned, including a variety of movies. We watched some of our favorites, like Young Frankenstein, Beetlejuice, Shaun of the Dead, but we also watched some movies we'd never seen before.
The first on our list was the 1985 cult classic Re-Animator, based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story of the same title. The movie follows two medical students—one, a little more deranged than the other—as they discover how to re-animate dead tissue and thus bring back the dead. It's gory and over-the-top, but if you enjoyed Sam Raimi's Evil Dead and Peter Jackson's Dead Live, then you'll die for Re-Animator.
Keeping in the theme of horror, I also watched two Netflix Original films: Eli and Before I Wake. Now, I can't say that either of these films are now included on my list of favorite horror movies or anything, but I thought they were worth mentioning for two reasons.
Reason #1: It has been a loooong time since I've watched a horror movie that I haven't been able to anticipate every action and outcome, but both of these movies continued to surprise me, especially Eli.
Reason #2: I found the plots to be fairly unique. In Eli, we are introduced to a child named Eli—go figure—who suffers from a deficient immune system that makes it impossible for him to be outside. In the hopes of living a normal life someday, he enrolls in an experimental treatment program meant to make him better, but when he begins seeing ghosts, he starts to wonder just what treatment he's receiving. As for Before I Wake, I just loved the idea that this kid's dreams came to life, whether they were pleasant or not. I've always been fascinated with dreams, and have frequently wondered how to incorporate them into books, so from a writing standpoint, it was cool to see.
Now that I've raved about these two movies though, if any of you are interested in watching them my one caveat is that the acting is subpar. But, if you're about to watch a horror movie, you probably expect that already.
My partner and I have FINALLY got all caught up on The Walking Dead, and just in time for the new season! I am still salty about Carl's death—which is no longer a spoiler since that was a number of seasons ago now, so don't go getting all mad at me—but I must admit, the new season is growing on me. I'd still love to see the writers do more with some of our new characters though, rather than using them as zombie- and Whisperers-fodder. Although I'm enjoying all of the Alpha and Beta time, I'd still love to learn more about Kelly, Connie, Magna, Yumiko, and Luke, characters that were introduced back in like season 8 but I still don't know much about.
Last month the ninth season of American Horror Story premiered! Since I spent the entire year thinking that I had to wait for season 8, Apocalypse, to premiere on Netflix before I could watch it though, the first couple weeks of October consisted of me watching Apocalypse and having my mind utterly blown. They finally tied all of the stories together!?!? Oh my goodness. I couldn't breathe, I was so excited! I'm sure I wasn't the only person to notice that there was no mention of Asylum, Freak Show, Roanoke, or Cult. I wonder if they are saving them for crossovers with future seasons? Anyways, after I finished Apocalypse I discovered that I actually DO have access to season 9 episodes thanks to my partner's extravagant Comcast package! Which means I've been singing camp songs, roasting marshmallows, and biting my nails the rest of the month as I watch the gang evade a serial killer at Camp Redwood in American Horror Story: 1984. Eek!
Oh! And can we talk for a second about my favorite character this season: Brooke! I'll try to keep this spoiler-free. Mostly I just wanted to say that finally they give actress Emma Roberts a character that isn't detestable and, is actually quite relatable! With only just one episode left, I think it's safe to safe that no matter what happens she will remain my favorite character this season.
It just dawned on me that you're probably wondering at this point "Sheesh, don't you watch anything lighter? Or are you constantly submerging yourself in death, gore, and destruction?" Hey now! Don't judge me! I can't help that I love that dark shit!
That being said, I have been watching something a little lighter on the heart...a little. Is anyone familiar with The Good Place? Sure, it's a series about death and the afterlife so it's not super light, but it is SUPER funny. With stars like Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, it's apparently a match made in heaven—HA! See what I did there? No, but really, this show is FORKING amazing! It's four seasons in, so hopefully, I'm not spoiling anything for anyone by saying: I thought this show was going to slowly deteriorate once Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani found out they were actually in the bad place. But to my surprise, each season it just keeps getting better! How do they do it!?! Magic. It must be afterlife magic.
Anime & Animation
RWBY season 7 premiered today! Talk about a phenomenal opening episode! And although I already missed predicting one of the major plot twists of the season, this show remains my favorite non-baby thing in existence right now (and if you don't know why RWBY is so amazing, read here).
If I thought a person could watch a lot of movies in a quarter, apparently said person can read even more books. Like...so many. According to my Goodreads page, I've read ten books since my last monthly update! I don't want to bore you with all of my fan-girling about each of them, but I will give you some highlights. For the rest, you'll just have to follow me on Goodreads.
During my last monthly update I told you all that I was developing a new author-crush on Seanan McGuire. I am happy to report that my love for her has only grown since then! After breezing through the first two books of her Wayward Children series, I devoured Beneath the Sugar Sky (#3) and In An Absent Dream (#4). As usual, both were great, but I think In An Absent Dream might be my favorite book of the series thus far! The problem now is that I'm all caught up, and Come Tumbling Down (#5) isn't scheduled to release until January 7. I'm sobbing. What am I supposed to do in the meantime?
I guess the answer is to keep reading a book series I'm only mildly interested in... So, after seeing all of the great reviews for the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, I finally decided to start reading it. Truth is, at first I was really intrigued. I loved the main character's voice (which I think I mentioned that in my last monthly update, but whatever I enjoyed about her and the story died by the end of the book. However, for some unknown reason, I kept reading the series. By now I've read Unravel Me (#2), Ignite Me (#3), and Restore Me (#4). I think I'm convinced that I'm missing something, and if I keep reading I might reach the "aha" moment that makes this series "so great". Until then, the jury is still out for me though!
The last book I'd like to gush about for a minute was a book that was a little out of my general repertoire. Internment is a YA dystopian fiction-that-could-be-non-fiction book set in a future version of the United States where Muslim families are sent to internment camps. I said it in my review and I'll say it again: this story is so important right now. It's a reminder of the line we as a country are treading, and a call to action to ensure that we don't become more complacent. Seriously, read this book, and read the letter from the author, Samira Ahmed, at the end. SO powerful.
Comics & Graphic Novels
I mentioned last time that I started reading Sandman, but I have unfortunately hit a standstill with it. I'm sorry, the story just isn't gripping me and it's preventing me from reading other things that I would/do enjoy. So, I set it aside for now and picked up a new graphic novel of interest.
With my infatuation with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TV show, I decided to pick up a copy of the comic! That being said, I'm still reading it. There's just something about motherhood that has made it extremely difficult to find time to read graphic novels anymore, and it's so frustrating! When my kiddo was an infant, I'd read them to him while he ate, slept, laid on his tummy, and it was great! Now though he would rip them out of my hands if I tried!
Maybe I need to jump-start a comic reading goal. Maybe that would help. As a Virgo, setting goals is basically the only way I am inspired to do anything. Okay, here we go! My goal for finishing The Chillding Adventures of Sabrina is to finish it by the end of November. So let it be written, so let it be done.
Next on my list, as I get myself re-excited about comics, will be to read the fourth installment of Monstress. If you aren't familiar with this series, it's phenomenal and the artwork is entrancing. I also wrote what I think is a pretty great review of the third volume here.
But, I'll admit, this story is a hard one to get back into after such a long hiatus (it can take the series months before new issues release), because it is so intricate. I'll have to read some synopsis before I dive back in, but, I know it'll be worth it!
And, to make sure this also gets completed, I think it also needs a deadline. And I'm feeling a bit optimistic so I'm going to slap on the same deadline as Sabrina and say I'm going to finish this one by the end of November too.
Video Games, Board Games, & Other Games
Before you keep scrolling, if it wasn't clear by now, I am kind of a dork.
Yes, the picture above is an overlay of my face over Kratos' face. Yes, I spent way longer than I should've to create this picture. Yes, creating that photo was absolutely unnecessary for this blog post, but totally worth it.
If the photo above didn' distract and disturb you too much, you've probably figured out by now that I am still playing God of War 4. Actually, I took an embarrassingly long hiatus. Since I'd been playing it with my brother, I just left my Playstation at his place. But then my partner, our kids, and I kept getting sick over and over again, so my Playstation was stuck at his place, while I was stuck at home. But we just started playing it again. Yesterday to be exact. My brother and I had a Friday night game night, baby-free.
We spent most of the evening getting distracted by side missions, but then we worked out way down into the caves of Jotunheim and I am 99% sure that the next time we play, we are going to load just outside a boss fight with what I expect will be a giant spider. Which means it'll be my brother's turn to play.
As part of our family Halloctober festivities, I ordered a new board game called Shadows in the Forest. In the game, players play as either shadowlings who must hide in a forest and go undetected or as the lamplight that is searching for shadowlings. It's a family game so we plan on playing it with our five-year-old. I'll tell you all how it goes, but I have some high expectations for the fun it'll bring us!
Lastly, I mentioned this in passing on Twitter: I'm organizing a Murder Mystery Party at work! It's basically the highlight of my job right now—I freaking LOVE party planning! Notice all of my exclamations? That's how serious I am about this. I'm collaborating with three coworkers, which has made it both more challenging and easier because it takes more time for deliberation on decisions, but it also gives us more "man"-power to pull it off. So far, we've settled on a theme: zombie virus outbreak, and we've determined the flow of the tasks/puzzles/games for stage one, but we are a little stuck on stage two. We're scheduled to facilitate it on November 15th though, so we better hurry and figure it out! I'll be posting a how-to and maybe some other updates about it afterward, so keep your eyes peeled.
Cosplay & Costumes
How have I NOT posted about my Rose City Comic Con (RCCC) cosplay yet!?! Aside from the brief reflection I wrote about being a cosplaying new mom? I spent an entire month talking about it non-stop on Twitter and Instagram and then poof, nothing. Well, I cosplayed as Yang from the anime RWBY this year! You can find my tutorial for this Yang cosplay here!
This is the first cosplay I've done since my pregnancy, so I was nervous, disoriented, and, predictably, a little dissatisfied with the final outcome, but when I reflected on the experience, I realized my convoluted emotions were likely a normal component of my new identity as a mom. So at the very least, I'm glad I did it just to have gotten back into the swing of things.
That being said, my original plan was to use my RCCC cosplay as my Halloween costume this year, but since I wound up not really liking it, and since we had an opportunity to do a family costume instead, I opted to do something else.
My kiddo received a hand-me-down dinosaur costume when he was like three months old. I held on to it, unsure when it would fit him, but as luck would have it, it was a perfect fit for him come Halloween! SO, my partner and I decided to do a Jurassic Park themed family costume, where our son is a dinosaur, my partner is Dr. Ian Malcolm, and I am Ellie Sattler.
Everything used for these costumes were hand-me-downs, purchased from thrift stores, or came straight from our own closets. All-in-all, I'd say this was a family costume win!
Does Halloween count as a fandom, because that is all I was thinking about last month! I'm serious. I got sooooo much Halloween time in last month between the movies, baking, creating, games, I think this year I finally got my fill of Halloween stuff. What a relief! I hate spending the next eleven months mourning the passing of the season and anticipating the next one. Maybe this year I'll actually be able to make it through the other holidays without thinking about a single pumpkin! We'll see.
As November starts though, I'm really getting sucked back into everything RWBY. Like, I need to surround myself with my RWBY gear while I have another RWBY marathon and talk with my friends about the awesomeness of RWBY.
Gear & Collectibles
Speaking of RWBY... I never got to show off my RWBY figurines! I bought them a few months ago, and I WENT ALL OUT! The last time I bought a RWBY figurine, I decided to just buy one because I was going to slowly collect them over the months. But then, when I finally got the money to buy another...THEY WERE SOLD OUT AND THEY HAVEN'T MADE ANY OTHERS SINCE! I wasn't taking that chance this time. I couldn't just have team RW or team BY or something... So now I have a complete set and I love them. Look at them! Aren't they the cutest!?
As you all know, I went to Rose City Comic Con in September, and if anyone is also a con-enthusiast, you know how many trinkets and memorabilia you tend to leave conventions with. Well, this year, I seriously reigned myself in, partially because I was dealing with some strange comic con ju-ju, but also because I am BROKE. However, I couldn't leave without something. All I purchased were these two pins (well, three, but one of them I pre-ordered and it's still not here yet).
Anyways, I think they're pretty sweet. I've seen a lot of Link gear in my days, but never something quite like this! And that Michael Meyers, trick-or-treating, in a cat costume!?! I can't even.
Phew! You made it through a three-month recap of my life as a nerdy parent. Congratulations! You deserve a prize, though I'm not sure what yet. Hmmm, maybe I should create a point system. You just earned 10—nay, 25 Jessaca points! Points can be redeemed for advice, words of encouragement, and nerdy suggestions, just contact me on social media, email, text, or in person.
Until next time, Stay nerdy!
author of The Awakened series
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