And That’s a Wrap: February and March 2022 Edition

Another month is over and, as usual, that means it’s time for a reading wrap-up! Let’s jump in, shall we?

February this year wasn’t a huge reading month but I finished an ARC I had, re-read a favourite, and finished a fantastic 1000 page novel that I’ve had on my TBR for like 5 years, so you’ll hear absolutely no complaints from me!

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive 1#) – Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★

I finally did it. I read the first (giant) book in The Stormlight Archive and it was fantastic. The first few chapters were slightly disorienting but after that, I enjoyed myself so much. The world-building is vast and impressive, and I loved the way the drama and action of the story ebbed and flowed over the course of the book. The climax, in particular, was so darn good – I just couldn’t stop reading. However, my favourite part was definitely the characters – they’re so well developed and it was really interesting seeing how their paths intertwined. I’m really keen to read the next book in the series so you can bet Words of Radiance will show up in one of these wrap-ups later in the year.

One Night on the Island – Josie Silver ★★ | Review

I really enjoyed Josie Silver’s One Day in December so I’d hoped this would be a similar experience, especially considering the cute blurb, but it was not to be. The setting for the book, a beautiful and remote Irish island complete with sweet locals, was great and I liked the story’s ideas of self-love and self-partnering (despite them feeling at odds with the romance). However, for something marketed as a romance, the relationship between leads Cleo & Mac seemed underdeveloped and downplayed in favour of their individual journeys. It also felt undermined by Mack’s unresolved marriage situation. Additionally, my warmth towards the characters themselves was…rocky. In the end, not for me.

Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney | Review ★★★★★

I love this book and it held up just as well the second time through as it did the first. I’d been planning on rereading this right before watching the adaptation (due in May) to refresh my memory but I got so excited about the prospect that I’ve done it several months early! Ah well. Worth it. Conversations won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but this is easily one of my favourite standalones.

Migrations – Charlotte McConaghy ★★★

I didn’t end up liking this as much as McConaghy’s most recent release, Once There Were Wolves, but it was a decent read. It’s slowly paced and tonally bleak due to its focus on humans’ devastating impact on the natural environment and the MC’s backstory. It’s about a woman named Franny who is desperate to find a place on a fishing vessel to follow the last migration of the Arctic Terns towards Antarctica. I know a lot of other readers have really loved Migrations and I can understand why that might be but I feel as though it took me a while to really understand Franny as a protagonist or the connection between her and her husband, something that was crucial to the emotional weight of the story. It’s very different from a lot of other books I’ve read, and I have this inexplicable feeling that I might enjoy it more in the form of the adaptation currently in the works.

March was a pretty good month for me reading-wise. I read 8 books (why are kindle books so much easier to read quickly??) and went on a brief historical-romance trip while waiting eagerly for the second season of Bridgerton to release on Netflix. However, my reading buzz came to somewhat of a screeching halt after reaching one book in particular. It won’t be hard to guess which from the star ratings.

The View was Exhausting – Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta ★★.5

I picked this up on a whim while at the book store one day. I had a good feeling about it and after seeing some Evelyn Hugo comparisons (the acting, fame, secret relationship vibe minus the historical setting), I was even keener. As it turned out, TVWE was okay but unmemorable. I didn’t dislike it but it didn’t inspire much of an I-need-to-keep-reading headspace. It’s about an actress called Whitman who has an on-off again fake relationship with a party boy named Leo which they utilise whenever her public persona needs a refresh. The characters were fine, although I can’t say I grew particularly attached to them and I found Whitman frustrating in the second half. The chemistry between Whitman and Leo was decent and I did want them to be happy together, but far from one of my favourite romances. Honestly, I don’t really have all that much to say about this one.

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons 2#) – Julia Quinn ★★

I had a lacklustre reaction to the first Bridgertons book (despite loving the Netflix series) but I was determined to try this anyway. I liked it slightly more than book one and enjoyed Kate but the big problem is that Anthony’s still an ass. Might be because he says things like: “I don’t like being denied my rights” when Kate asks to hold off having sex for a week. I get it’s historical but jeez…my ovaries just shriveled. There are also a couple of story elements that feel a little silly, like why Kate & Anthony get married. Don’t get me wrong, though, there was fun stuff, too – Kate’s troublesome corgi, Newton, the Bridgertons playing aggressively competitive Pall-Mall (like croquet), and Colin being an absolute shit-stirrer. Not sure if I’ll read book 3 but one thing’s for sure, if I have to read the word “rake” again for the 1000th time, I will gouge my eyes out.

The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke 1#) – Tessa Dare ★★★★

After my disappointing experience with The Viscount Who Loved Me, I thought I’d give popular romance author Tessa Dare a try and, you know what, this was really good! As far as historical romance goes, it felt more on the modern side but I liked that because it meant we avoided a lot of the toxicity you often find in the genre. The writing was really funny, even slightly satirical at times, but so easy to get sucked into. I liked the characters, especially our heroine Emma, and thought the interactions between her and male lead Ash were sweet and fun. I wasn’t swooning or shipping as hard as I have with other romance couples but it was cute, fast-paced, and humorous so I’m definitely up for more. If you like rom-coms with historical flavour, this is a good choice.

The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke 2#) – Tessa Dare ★★★★

I’d heard that a few people were disappointed with the second entry in this series but I actually enjoyed it slightly more than the first! Shocking, I know. I liked the setup for the story, the characters (especially the child wards of our male lead, Chase, one of which kept “killing” off her doll in a new way every day), the banter and chemistry, and Tessa Dare’s once again engaging and fun writing style. Clearly, I should be reading more of her books in the future.

Dead Silence – S. A. Barnes ★★★

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super vibing with this at the beginning. It took a little while to get into the swing of things and I wasn’t sure what to make of the characters or the split timeline. Yet, once I got toward the middle, it seemed to find its footing and I began to enjoy myself. I feel like it manages the cross-over between sci-fi, horror, mystery and slight romance fairly well. The world-building is comprehensive enough to support the story and there are a couple of good creepy moments. I thought the twist and explanation for events were pretty reasonable but the fact that a couple of things were left unexplained was annoying. I also wish there’d been more development to the side characters to increase the emotional impact of the story.

Hook, Line, and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters 2#) – Tessa Bailey ★★★★.5

I loved this. Surprisingly, even more than the first book! It’s the perfect combination of sweet and sexy. The romance was super enjoyable and the chemistry between Fox and Hannah was fantastic. I adored them together – the intimacy, the trust, the ease of their interactions! – but also I just really liked both of them as characters. The growth and development they undergo over the course of the book alongside their somewhat slowburn romance was so nice to see, especially Fox overcoming his negative perceptions of himself. Plus, the smut was pretty fire, too, just in case you were wondering. It’s probably not the best example of friends-to-lovers because the friendship isn’t exactly “solid” but I’ve never been a huge fan of that trope so no bothers here.

The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake ★★★ | Review

Finally, after what feels like forever, I read The Atlas Six. I wish I could say it was everything I was hoping for but, unfortunately, not. While I really liked the premise and found the characters interesting (despite some being underutilised), the writing style and I didn’t fully gel. I also wish that there had been slightly more structure to the magic system and the book’s plot aside from a few decent twists. Some more emotional conversations between the characters rather than the frequent, but admittedly captivating, attempts at power play would also have gone a long way. Still, I’m intrigued enough to read the sequel.

Norweigan Wood – Haruki Murakami ★

There were several points during this that I should have DNF-ed and I regret not doing so because…oh, boy. Would someone please explain how this book was so popular that Murakami fled Japan to get away from the publicity? I don’t think I’ve ever had such an emotionally negative reaction to a novel before. Anger, disgust, boredom, frustration, disbelief – I ran the gamut. I mean, good lord, the red flags! The depiction of women, slight paedophilic vibes to some descriptions (actual paedophilia in one scene), handling of mental health, asshole MC that every character feels the need tell us is such a nice guy, suicide used FOUR times and not well, the constant (& pretentious) book/music title drops…I almost want to write a review just to rant and rage. I actually thought this was going to be fantastic but, plot twist, one star it is.


It’s been a lazy start to 2022 for blogging and of the limited posts that I’ve uploaded, a chunk of them have been book reviews. Admittedly, I don’t have a problem with that because, well, book blog. I’m hoping to up my posting frequency in April (the public holidays should help) but we’ll see how that goes since there will be a few things going on in my life over the coming weeks. Here are the posts from Feb & March that aren’t already linked above, just in case you missed them:


In life news, I’ve got a new job! I’ve been in my current position for several years now so I’m very excited (and a little nervous) about trying something new. My new role is in a different city from where I am now so over the next few weeks I’ll be getting ready to move, finding an apartment, buying furniture, and all that big stuff.

As far as non-bookish entertainment stuff goes, when it comes to TV I’ve been watching:

  • Love is Blind, S2: Bit of a frustrating experience this season and the editing is wild!
  • Arcane: League of Legends, S1: Why did I wait such a long time to watch this? It’s so good! The art is amazing and I really enjoyed the story. Such a bummer that season 2 will take so long to make. This is proof you can make good adaptations of video games if they’re done right.
  • Bridgerton, S2: I binged this like crazy. It was very different from the book, in some great and less problematic ways, but also some…not-so-good ways. There were too many subplots, I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle, and they dragged out the will-they-won’t they a tad too long. Some more post-marriage time would have been nice. However, the chemistry between Anthony & Kate and the last few minutes of the season, *chef’s kiss*.
  • Nevertheless, S1: I’ve never watched a K-drama before and my sister recommended this to deal with my boredom/post-Bridgerton depression (watching Pride & Prejudice helps, by the way). I’m not really sure what I think at this point or whether I want to continue but it’s always good to try different things.

For movies, the list is short. I went to see The Batman and loved it (despite all the people in the cinema trying to ruin it for me). So worth the wait. I’ve always wanted to see Batman actually act like his ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ moniker so this was right up my alley and I could definitely see the Seven, Zodiac, Bladerunner type influences. I also watched Deep Water on Amazon prime with Ben Affleck and Anna de Armas, and the only two things I’ll say are 1) the kid was adorable and 2) it’s 2 hours of my life I will never get back.

Gaming-wise, my The Sims 4 addiction has returned in a big way and kind of killed the progress I was making with Pokemon Legends: Arceus and Guardians of the Galaxy *sigh*.


And that’s it for February and March! I’m hoping you’ve all conveniently forgotten that I just skipped January when it comes to wrap-ups but what can I say, it wasn’t very eventful. I hope you’ve all had a great first quarter of the year and that more good things are yet to come.

First Lines Friday | 04.03.22 | Deciding My Next Read

This week, we’re trying something different – well, different for me at least! First Lines Friday! Previously hosted by Wandering Words, this weekly feature asks us to judge books by their opening lines rather than their covers. Normally the feature asks you to choose a book, copy out the opener, and then get people to guess which novel it belongs to before finally revealing the answer. However, I’m going to change things up and do three! As I’m currently in between books, I thought it might be fun to choose my next read based on its opening lines. So, let’s get into the 3 options I’ve selected:

OPTION ONE

The two would-be jade thieves sweated in the kitchen of the Twice Lucky restaurant. The windows were open in the dining room, and the onset of evening brought a breeze off the waterfront to cool the diners, but in the kitchen, there were only the two ceiling fans that had been spinning all day to little effect. Summer had barely begun and already the city of Janloon was like a spent lover—sticky and fragrant.

I hear ‘would-be thieves’ and already my brain is excitedly screaming: HEIST! I also like that this opening already gives me a sense of the world I’m soon to read about.

Any idea what the book is? No? Well, here are three clues:

  1. It’s an adult fantasy.
  2. It’s the first in a trilogy.
  3. The author has described it as ‘The Godfather with magic and kung-fu’.

OPTION TWO

When Red wins, she stands alone.

Blood slicks her hair. She breathes out steam in the last night of this dying world.

Well, damn. Isn’t this dramatic as hell? I love it.

Ringing any bells for you? If not, these hints might help you out:

  1. It’s a sci-fi novella
  2. The story involves time travel and a f/f romance
  3. It has two authors.

OPTION THREE

And last but not least…

Anthony Bridgerton had always known he would die young.

Oh, not as a child. Young Anthony had never had cause to ponder his own mortality. His early years had been a young boy’s perfection, right from the very day of his birth.

Anthony, stop being so darn melodramatic. Jeez. I like the fact that this opener seems to support my assessment by pointing out just how perfect his life has been for the most part.

Okay, be honest, do you even need a hint to guess this one? Still, for consistency’s sake…

  1. It’s a sequel.
  2. It’s a historical romance.
  3. The series name is in the quote above minus an ‘s’.

The (Not So) Big Reveal

*Drumroll*

1. JADE CITY – FONDA LEE

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.

The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.

When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.

2. THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR – AMAL EL-MOHTAR & MAX GLADSTONE

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.

3. THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME (BRIDGERTONS 2#) – JULIA QUINN

This time the gossip columnists have it wrong. London’s most elusive bachelor Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry—he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate’s the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams…

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate’s determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself…


Did you guess any of the three correctly? Which book do you think I should read next?

Page to Screen: 8 Book Adaptations I’m Looking Forward to in 2022

Book adaptations – sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re disasters you wish you could permanently erase from your memory. Still, we live in hope that our favourite books will not only make it to the big or the small screen one day but that they’ll be something worthy of the amazing novel they’re created from. While 2021 certainly featured some great ones, 2022 has some promising movies and TV shows on the way. Here are nine of the adaptations currently expected to release this year that I’m most looking forward to seeing:

The Time Traveler’s Wife (TV Limited series, HBO)

Audrey Niffenegger’s Sci-fi romance, The Time Traveler’s Wife, has been one of my favourite books ever since I was in high school. Then again, I haven’t re-read it for years now so here’s hoping that’s still the case. It follows a man named Henry who has a condition called Chrono-Displacement Disorder which causes him to spontaneously time travel to moments within his own timeline – past and future. Because of this, he meets, falls in love with, and eventually marries an artist named Clare. The book details their lives and the impact Henry’s condition has on them. I found the 2009 film somewhat of a letdown so I’m really looking forward to seeing what HBO is able to do with a six-episode limited series in the hands of Steven Moffat, especially since my favourite Doctor Who episode was not only written by him but inspired by this exact novel (It’s The Girl in the Fireplace, in case you were wondering). The series will star Theo James and Rose Leslie, which I’m not sure how I feel about, but I’m keeping an open mind. It’s due to release sometime in the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring.


Conversations with Friends (TV Limited Series, BBC 3/Hulu)

I think you’re all aware just how much I adore Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney so when I say this is the adaptation I’m most excited for on this list, you won’t be surprised. This book is another one of my favourite standalones and it’s about two friends/exes, Frances and Bobby, who meet a writer named Melissa after one of their spoken poetry shows and start to spend time with her and her quiet, actor husband, Nick. Soon after, Frances begins an affair with Nick which changes her perspective on a lot of things. I absolutely adored the adaptation of Rooney’s second novel, Normal People, and many of the people who were involved in that production have returned to work on CWF so I’m really hopeful the series will be another winner. It’s due to release in the US in May and, like Normal People, will consist of 12 episodes of approx. 30 mins each.


Daisy Jones and the Six (TV Limited Series, Amazon)

I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about this adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s popular 2019 novel for a while now (ever since Reese Witherspoon’s production company bought the rights), but it seems as though the TV series will finally be released this year. The book is a fictionalised oral history account of the rise and split of a popular band in the 1970s and takes some inspiration from Fleetwood Mac. Production was massively delayed due to Covid but they were finally able to start shooting in September last year, which is exciting! The casting looks super solid too – Riley Keogh will play Daisy and Sam Claflin has been cast as Billy, the band’s lead guitarist, writer and singer. I’m interested to see how the music from the book gets translated into the series and the way the documentary-style storytelling will be approached. I know a lot of people are looking forward to this one so hopefully they aren’t disappointed!


Blonde (Film, Netflix)

I confess, I’ve had this brick-sized book by Joyce Carol Oates sitting on my desk TBR pile for many months now but I’m determined to read it before the adaptation comes out. There’s been a lot of talk about this movie in recent weeks due to the announcement of its US NC-17 rating but I’m super intrigued to see how the movie turns out. It’s a fictionalised and highly edited account of the life of Marilyn Monroe and, at a times, a very dark, violent and ugly one. Then again, Marilyn’s life wasn’t exactly sunshine and daisies. I have no idea if this is going to be something I enjoy, the book or the movie, but there’s just something about Marilyn that draws me in. Ana de Armas will be playing Marilyn and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from her in the past. I’ve heard there were some challenges in navigating her Cuban accent but I really hope she nails the role.


House of the Dragon (TV Series, HBO)

Even after the nonsense that was season 8 of Game of Thrones, I’m still looking forward to this adaptation of Martin’s Fire & Blood. Am I going in with measured expectations? That would be a yes, but we’ll see how things go. It could be awesome, it could be the biggest flop ever. Who knows? This series is set 300 years before the original and deals with the lead-up to the Dance of Dragons – a civil war within the Targaryen house that killed many dragons and severely weakened the Targaryens, contributing to their eventual downfall. I have no idea how much money HBO is throwing at this, it must be a lot considering how many dragons will have to be involved and the scale of the conflicts, so here’s hoping it looks pretty spectacular.


Bridgerton, Season 2 (TV Series, Netflix)

As if this wasn’t going to be included. This is another case of an adaptation where I have the book but just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet (I’m hesitant after my issues with the first book). Gotta love a good guilty pleasure watch. But yay for a diverse heroine and good, old-fashioned enemies-to-lovers tale. The story revolves around Anthony finally deciding to get married and setting his sights on a woman named Edwina. However, her older sister Kate has heard all about Anthony’s rakish ways from Lady Whistledown and wants to keep Edwina as far away from him as possible. But then oopsie, they fall for each other instead. I wasn’t a big fan of Anthony in the first season/book – he’s somewhat of a pratt so fingers crossed this season and Kate can redeem him. Season 2 will release on March 25 and you can bet I’ll be bingeing it.


Where the Crawdads Sing (Film, Netflix)

Another adaptation, another book I haven’t read. I’ve been wanting to read Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdads Sing for a few years now, probably because it was all people could talk about for a while, but never got around to it. Now the movie is coming out in June and I’m feeling the time crunch. This is another one of the projects being produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine company and I’m excited that they’ve cast Daisy Edgar Jones in the lead role because I loved her in Normal People. I’m also expecting some beautiful scenery after what I’ve heard of the environments in the book. The novel is about a girl named Kya who lives in the wilderness as she was abandoned by her family when she was young. Treated as a social outcast, she becomes the prime suspect in a murder when a popular boy from town is found dead.


The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (TV Series, Amazon)

This is the 2022 adaptation I’m most conflicted about. As some of you may know, I’m not a big fan of Tolkien’s books but I’m completely nuts for Peter Jackson’s film adaptations. So, my dilemma is that while I’m intrigued, I’m still very unsure about how good it will be. Amazon has thrown absolutely enormous sums of money at this first season – legit, $465M was spent – meaning at the very least I have high hopes for the production quality. The story itself is based on Tolkien’s collection of appendices rather than an actual novel, which suggests there will be a lot of jigsaw puzzling and creative license going on to form the narrative. It seems to be dealing with the second age, covering Sauron’s rise and the forging of the Rings of Power. This could prove to be super interesting but I guess we’ll have to wait until September to find out.


Which book adaptations coming out in 2022 are you most excited to see?

And That’s a Wrap 2020: Book Adaptations I Watched

If there’s one things that’s for certain, it’s that Hollywood will always turn to books instead of trying to come up with their own original ideas for movies and TV shows. Sometimes they’re good and others…err, let’s just say we’d prefer to forget them or hope for a remake.

Due to Covid 19’s impact on cinema access, 2020 was a difficult year when it came to movie releases but for streaming services like Netflix, it was golden. Here are the book adaptations released this year that I got around to watching (the titles with a star next to them are those I’ve read the book for):

Little Women

Film | Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Synopsis: Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms.

While this movie came out in most countries in 2019, in Australia it wasn’t released until New Years Day 2020. I really enjoyed this one and have rewatched it several times since I first saw it in cinemas. The cast is fantastic and it was definitely the start of my obsession with Florence Pugh. The score is gorgeous, the costuming is great and it’s 100% pushed me to want to read the novel. We just have to overlook Emma Watson’s frequent accent breaks…


To All the Boys: PS. I Still Love You ★

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020) - IMDb

Film | Based on P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Synopsis: Lara Jean and Peter have just taken their relationship from pretend to officially official when another recipient of one of her old love letters enters the picture.

I was super excited for this release because I love the books and really enjoyed the first movie. I have to say though, I was kind of disappointed. While Jordan Fisher as John Ambrose is perfection casting if I ever saw it, the movie feels like it’s trying too hard a lot of the time and there are some frankly bizarre direction choices at points (the THREE different aerial shots of a car driving at the beginning, Lara Jean randomly lip-syncing down a school hallway, the bizarre floating kiss at the end?). On the whole though, the movie (as well as Lana & Noah) is still charming enough to be enjoyable, it just isn’t one of my favourites.


Emma ★

Film | Based on Emma by Jane Austen

Emma (2020) - Movie Posters (2 of 2)

Synopsis: Beautiful, smart and wealthy, Emma Woodhouse navigates her way through misguided matches, romantic missteps and the challenges of growing up — all to finally realize the love that has been there all along.

I saw Emma back in March and little did I know that it’d end up being my last trip to the cinema for 2020 (thanks Covid). There are a few changes from the original novel, especially in the later parts of the film, but they’re not entirely unwelcome in that they add humour, modernise the story slightly, and give audiences more insight into some of the characters. I enjoyed this movie. It drags a little around the middle (similarly to the book) but the scenery and costumes are great, Bill Nigh is fantastic as Mr Woodhouse, and I liked both Anya Taylor Joy and Johnny Flynn’s performances as Emma & Mr Knightley. Their chemistry is also great to watch. Overall, it’s a fun take on Austen even if it isn’t a perfect adaptation.


All the Bright Places ★

Film | Based on All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Synopsis: The story of Violet and Theodore, who meet and change each other’s lives forever. As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they discover that even the smallest places and moments can mean something.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the original book on this one and I felt pretty similarly about the adaptation. My issues with the mental health and suicide representation aside, there just isn’t all that much of a plot and the relationship between the two characters is really bland. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t rectify this. My sister and I were so darn bored watching it that we found ourselves checking how much longer we had to go several times. The film also cuts out quite a few key components from the book that contribute to the depth of the characters e.g. Finch’s abusive father. Book or movie, sorry, not for me.


Normal People ★

Limited Series | Based on Normal People by Sally Rooney

Synopsis: Normal People follows the relationship between Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron, as they navigate adulthood from their final days in secondary school to their undergraduate years in Trinity College.

This is one of those rare cases where I enjoyed the adaptation more than the book. To give you an indication of how much I loved it, I watched it twice within the space of about three months. The book and series are fairly similar but I really appreciated the adaptation’s switch to presenting events chronologically and the small changes it made to the narrative such as the altered ending (it makes so much more sense). The acting here is also phenomenal. The chemistry between the two leads is unbelievable and I’m telling you, it’s almost impossible not to feel something when Paul Mescal is crying. As a fun bonus, the soundtrack is top notch, too.


The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen's Gambit (TV Mini-Series 2020) - IMDb

Limited Series | Based on The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

Synopsis: Abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, Beth Harmon discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.

2020 was certainly the year of The Queen’s Gambit. It may be slow at first but once it really gets started, you’re just gripped. The cinematography is wonderfully done and I adored all of the period details from the cars to the fashion. Anya Taylor Joy is absolutely amazing in the lead role and I will never stop being impressed with hers and the rest of the cast’s ability to play all of the chess games from memory (the speed chess scenes are insane!). You don’t have to be a chess fan to get lost in this one.


The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor movie review (2020) | Roger Ebert

TV Series | Loosely Based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Synopsis: After an au pair’s tragic death, a man hires a young American nanny to care for his orphaned niece and nephew who reside at Bly Manor with their chef, groundskeeper, and housekeeper. Little does the nanny know that the manor is haunted.

THoBM is quite different from Henry James’s novel but it uses The Turn of the Screw as a foundation for the story. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Haunting of Hill House so I was hoping that I’d enjoy this more. Unfortunately, no. It started out promising but I quickly grew bored with how insanely slow it was. By the end, I realised I didn’t really like the story of the lady in the lake and was frustrated by the way certain things were explained (or not explained). Honestly, the last episode was probably my favourite because it felt like an entirely different show but also because the acting by Victoria Pedretti and Amelia Eve was so good. I’m guessing I should give up on watching any further in this anthology.

After We Collided

Film | Based on After We Collided by Anna Todd

Synopsis: Tessa finds herself struggling with her complicated relationship with Hardin; she faces a dilemma that could change their lives forever.

Don’t ask me why I keep doing this to myself. I recognise the fact that this series is an absolute trainwreck. I really, really do. The plots are terrible and the relationship is as toxic as ever. It’s essentially just Hardin and Tessa alternating between fighting and having sex. Hardin does something stupid and Tessa forgives him. And still, I continue to watch. Then again, maybe we need the occasional bit of rot your brain garbage, and perhaps in 2020 more than ever. I can say though that Hero Fiennes Tiffin was slightly less of a wooden board acting wise than he was in the first one (but I guess that’s not really saying much, is it?).


Tiny Pretty Things

TV Series | Based on Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Synopsis: After tragedy strikes Chicago’s most prestigious ballet school, where every dancer is both friend and foe who compete fiercely for coveted roles, it threatens to unravel close friendships and to expose a constellation of secrets that could bring down a world-renowned institution.

Admittedly, I’m only a couple of episodes into this series so try not to spoil me too much in the comments. I’ve heard that the adaptation has some big differences from the book here. It’s set in Chicago rather than New York, the characters are less cutthroat, it’s centered around a mystery which isn’t a big deal in the novel, there’s a lot more sex, and the ending is altered. For me, this feels like just another teen drama except with ballet. It has those Pretty Little Liars vibes. Nothing particularly new but will I probably still binge watch the rest of it? Um…Yes.


Rebecca

Rebecca (2020) - IMDb

Film | Based on Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier

Synopsis: A young newlywed arrives at her husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy lives on in the house long after her death.

I really, really wish I’d read the book before watching this adaptation. I was going to hold off but Netflix kept bringing it up and next thing you know… As someone who didn’t know much about the story going in, I can say that while I found it intriguing there did feel like there was something missing, a hollowness of sorts, which kept the movie from landing the way it should have. I quite liked Lily James in the lead role but as much as I love Armie Hammer, I can’t help feeling like he wasn’t the right choice here. On the upside, visually the movie is gorgeous – the cliffs in Monte Carlo, Gothic shots of Manderly at night, Armie’s statement mustard suit, it’s a feast for the eyes.


Bridgerton

Bridgerton (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

TV Series | Based on The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: Wealth, lust, and betrayal set in the backdrop of Regency era England, seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family.

If you’ve heard that this series is basically Gossip Girl crossed with Pride & Prejudice, you’ve heard right. It’s far from a dramatic marvel but it’s a fun guilty pleasure watch for over the Christmas/New Year break. From what people have said, there are a few changes from the book series but it’s visually striking, sexy (beware if you’re planning on watching with family), and features a diverse cast. I should mention, however, that there has been some controversy over a particular sex scene in episode 6 so just be aware. Otherwise, if you enjoy a bit of romance, this would be a good pick. I’ll definitely be on the look out for season 2.


What were some of the best and worst book adaptations you watched this year? Which ones are you most looking forward to in 2021? Mine are Shadow and Bone, Conversations with Friends, A Discovery of Witches Season 2, The Witcher Season 2, and Daisy Jones & the Six!