Shows (I think) you should be watching

When it comes to TV shows, I’m fairly particular.  People are always giving recommendations for what to watch next, but I often struggle with their choices.  You see, I really struggle committing to shows.  Being a busy student, I only have so much time to devote to staying on top of TV.  I really hesitate spending time on a show if I’m not going to fall head-over-heels in love with it.  In general, shows that are character driven usually bore me.  Sitcoms, medical shows, crime dramas… it feels like the same thing over and over again.  I get bored quickly.  I tend to favor shows that are more plot-based where episodes build into a larger story arc.

Because I’m a tough-sell, when I for a show, I fall HARD.  That being said, I don’t make recommendations lightly.  If you’re looking for something new to watch, here are some shows I’ve been obsessed with lately.

Arrow

When my brother first recommended this to me, I was like “Eh, no thanks.  Not my thing.”  I gave the first few episodes a chance, but quickly lost interest.  Although I love superhero movies, the characters didn’t feel like anything special and the plot wasn’t anything to write home about.  However, this summer, I kept hearing people talk about how AMAZING this show is.  “Season one is good,” my older brother explained, “but it’s definitely something you have to push through.  Season two, though… season two is absolutely phenomenal.”

So I gave Arrow another chance.  And my brother was right.  Season one is a little rough, but it picks up and season two… Season two is one of the best seasons of a show I’ve ever seen.  Every episode is solid and the finale is absolutely incredible.  The third season is currently on and, although it’s less gripping than its predecessor, it’s still one of my favorite shows on t.v.

The Paradise

During my sophomore year of college, my roommate and I stumbled upon a Masterpiece Classic show called Mr. Selfridge about an American entrepreneur who sets up a department store in London.  We were immediately sucked in (mainly because we liked Henri, the French window display designer).  As time went on, though, the show was disappointing.  Our favorite characters made choices we weren’t comfortable with.  The story got boring.

When I was in England, one of my British friends presented an alternate option.  The Paradise is also about a department store.  Lead by the charismatic Mr. Moray, the show plunges into the workings of the store and its employees.  The show’s heroine is Denise Lovett, a sharp small town girl with a natural knack for business.

The Paradise, unfortunately, only has two seasons.  But if you’re a fan of BBC dramas, you’ll like this show.  The characters are endearing and the story is downright charming.  (Also, I’d like to note that the trailer below makes it look more racy than it actually is.)

The Musketeers

I grew up watching adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ novel.  I’ve always loved The Three Musketeers.  Each adaptation aims at capturing the heart of the novel and, although each does so differently, there are portions of the plot remain the same.  D’Artagnan always goes to Paris to avenge his father.  He always joins up with trusty Musketeers Athos, Aramis, and Porthos.  They always strive to protect the King of France against the wiles of Cardinal Richelieu and Milady de Winter. How the story goes depends on the adaptation.  The problem, though, is that none of them seem to succeed at telling the story right.  The 1993 version with Charlie Sheen is too campy.  The 2001 adaptation deviates from the core story too much.  The Mickey Mouse version is… well… it’s Mickey Mouse.  And the 2011 version with Logan Lerman is an absolute train wreck.

Then, last winter, the BBC came out with a television series based on the book that is ABSOLUTE GOLD.  It’s The Three Musketeers as I have always wanted it.  The acting is good, character development solid, and the story is exciting.  It’s got an excellent blend of political intrigue, romance, and swashbuckling action.  It’s an absolutely fantastic show and, for whatever reason, I’m the only one I know who watches it.

What are some of your favorite t.v. shows?  Are there any you think I’d like?  Let me know in the comments!

Sketchbook Corner 4

Welcome to another edition of Sketchbook Corner, a feature where I share various doodles and artwork I’ve been creating.

Click the images to enter the galleries for a closer look at the art, as well as descriptions and comments.

Watercolors:

Sketchbook:

 Class Doodles:IMG_3398-0With finals hanging over our heads, my tendency to doodle in class has curbed a bit.  I spend most of class these days scribbling down as many notes as possible to help with final papers and tests.

That’s all for this edition of Sketchbook Corner!  Keep your eyes peeled for next time, which will probably be in a few weeks.

Previous edition:

Sketchbook Corner 3

(All sketches, doodles, and artwork belong to me.  Do not take and repost without permission.)

On the Shelf

I come bearing another edition of On the Shelf, a feature where I talk about the books I’m currently reading or have recently finished.

Let’s start with academics.

Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

This Victorian bestseller, along with Braddon’s other famous novel, Aurora Floyd, established her as the main rival of the master of the sensational novel, Wilkie Collins. A protest against the passive, insipid 19th-century heroine, Lady Audley was described by one critic of the time as “high-strung, full of passion, purpose, and movement.” Her crime (the secret of the title) is shown to threaten the apparently respectable middle-class world of Victorian England. (summary via Goodreads)

We finished discussing Braddon’s popular novel in my Victorian Lit class this week.  The story is thrilling, filled with masked identities, bigamy, and hidden crime.  It’s a fast-paced story for its time and has some fantastic characters–the energetic Alicia, passionate Clara, and lazy Robert.  The title character is a gorgeous mastermind who will stop at nothing in her pursuit of a better life.  Braddon presents a complex argument regarding law, crime, and gender.  Is it a feminist novel?  It easily could be.  You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out!

The one downside of this novel is that Braddon isn’t particularly skilled at writing prose.  She tends to use the same words over and over again, which gets dull.  However, my favorite sentence in the book is probably this one:

The windows winked and the flight of stone steps glared in the sunlight, the prim garden walks were so freshly gravelled that they gave a sandy, gingery aspect to the place, reminding one unpleasantly of read hair.

Sorry, redheads.  Braddon doesn’t seem to like you very much.

The Evermen Saga by James Maxwell

Remember the other day when I gushed about the pain of a wonderful first read?  I was talking about this series.  (The cover is pretty awful, isn’t it?  I’m thankful I read the books on my Kindle to avoid staring at the photoshopped monstrosity.)

In my last installment of this feature, I was in the middle of the first novel of the series.  This past week, I finished the fourth. You’re probably thinking, “Woah, Amelia.  You’re in your senior year of college and managed to finish four 500 page fantasy novels within a few short weeks?  Are you insane?”

Answer: Kind of.

I’d label it weakness, not insanity.  When I enter a well-crafted world and become attached to its inhabitants, there’s no stopping me.  I become a rabid book breather and do not stop until I hit the end.

The thing about Maxwell’s series is that, like many fantasy novels, they aren’t literary.  The characters aren’t super original and there are gaping plot holes.  Too many convenient things happen for it to be completely believable.  But the series is FUN!  As far as pleasure reads go, it’s top-notch.  The world was so compelling that all its faults are forgotten.  I ‘d go so far as saying I adore the book’s universe.  The Tingarian Empire is diverse, historic, and well-planned.  The magic in the series, based on runic lore fueled by a deadly magical liquid called essence, is compelling and fantastic.

What I loved about the series is that there is never a dull moment.  The pacing is quick, bringing us from one battle to the next.  Yes, the characters aren’t super original, but they won my heart.  I found myself rooting for them as they faced incredible odds.  Each book was more dynamic than the next, and the finale in the fourth book was splendid.

A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon

In this epic new work, the award-winning Kenyon creates an alternate 19th century with two warring continents on an alternate earth: the scientific Anglica (England) and magical Bharata (India). Emboldened by her grandfather’s final whispered secret of a magical lotus, Tori Harding, a young Victorian woman and aspiring botanist, must journey to Bharata, with its magics, intrigues and ghosts, to claim her fate. There she will face a choice between two suitors and two irreconcilable realms.

In a magic-infused world of silver tigers, demon birds and enduring gods, as a great native mutiny sweeps up the continent, Tori will find the thing she most desires, less perfect than she had hoped and stranger than she could have dreamed.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I found this book via Kindle’s Daily Deal option.  It’s my gym read and, so far, has succeeded in taking my mind of the pain of the elliptical machine.  I’m not overly invested in the characters yet and still don’t know how I feel about the story.  But the world is intriguing.  I love the idea of an alternate Victorian period where England represents cold, hard science and India embodies magic and mystery.   I’m excited to see where it goes!

What’s next?

Starting this weekend, I’ll be delving into the massive Victorian chunker, The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope.  I’m also hoping to start The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.

What have you been reading lately?

Sketchbook Corner 2

I bring you another edition of my Sketchbook Corner, this time with some doodles from class notebooks and some watercolor paintings I’ve been working on.  The paintings were both done on the same night, a particularly lonely Friday where I found myself in a creative frenzy, supplemented by a BBC miniseries.

Before now, watercolor was an uncharted artistic medium.  I’ve loved getting the hang of it!  At the moment, I’m a bit limited in what I can explore because I only have one small paintbrush.  More brushes (and paint, for that matter) is on my Christmas list.

Sketchbook Corner

I’ve decided to make a weekly project of putting up art once a week.  Mainly, they’ll be photos from class doodles, my sketchbook, and (if I’m feeling especially creative) a painting (digital or watercolor).  I’ll try to put up one every week or so, and call them Sketchbook Corner!

Here’s this week’s collection!  Enjoy!