Rayna Recommends: Diversity

Hey guys, welcome to another installment of my sporadic series, Rayna Recommends! This is a time where I recommend books, movies, and TV shows to you based on the genre or type of books I wanted to talk about.

Today I’m going to recommend to you some of the diverse books, movies, and shows I’ve seen and read. I really enjoy reading and watching this kinds of things, but I still feel like I don’t get enough! With all of the diversity talk that’s been going around lately, I thought that this would be appropriate, so here are my recommendations:

Books

  • None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio is a YA book about a girl who is intersex. Now, I’ve never heard of the term “intersex” until I read this book, and it really opened my eyes to it. It follows a girl who also didn’t know she was intersex until an unfortunate sexual time with her boyfriend that was extremely painful to her and her journey in the beginning stages of accepting who she is and how she can still have a normal life despite it all. It was very interesting and I definitely recommend it.
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Need I say anything more? It’s hilarious, heartwarming, charming, and everything I could’ve asked for in a LGBT+ read and more. Seriously, check this one out. You won’t regret it. It’s about a high schooler named Simon who isn’t out of the closest yet, and how he’s being blackmailed by another kid so his secret is in danger. It’s really awesome, so go read it – right now!
  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga has a suicide trigger warning on it, I just want you to know. It’s about a girl who is dealing with a lot of suicidal thoughts and depression, and she meets a kid who also wants to commit suicide with someone else. It follows them and how she realizes how much more life has to offer than what’s going on there. It’s really something very close and personal to my heart and I highly recommend this book.

Movies

  • Beyond the Lights is a movie about a young woman in the music industry who is saved by an officer from committing suicide. The two fall in love and in the process, she realizes that hiding behind all of the makeup, glamor, and fame is so much more to be had. I really enjoyed this movie and thought that it was really well done. Cheesy in a few parts, but overall enjoyable. I love seeing movies with singers/dancers/artists that strive to be their best even when there’s bumps along the way, and to see a cast of colored actors is always awesome as well.
  • Blue is the Warmest Color is an international movie set in France and it follows a girl, Adele, who is discovering who she is as a teen when she meets Emma, a girl with blue hair. The two end up falling in love, but of course there are repercussions in Adele’s life because she was “supposed” to be a straight girl. It’s a really long movie (three hours), and there’s a lot of graphic sexual scenes that I had to turn the volume down on, BUT I really did enjoy it and I really want to see the second part since this is only the first half. It ended on a cliffhanger (kind of) and I need to see how it ends!

TV Shows

  • Orange is the New Black definitely has a diverse cast of characters, and it’s about women in prison. Honestly, that’s a crap ton of diversity if you ask me. Now, I don’t watch OITNB, like, at all, BUT, my husband does and he’s really into it. I’ve watched bits and pieces and from what I gather it’s a really interesting show and one that a lot of people are really into.
  • Good Morning Call is a Japanese drama that’s based off of the manga and it’s adorable and funny and GO WATCH IT. It’s available on Netflix, so really, no excuse. It follows a girl, Nao, and how she rents her dream apartment, but comes to find out she’s stuck with rooming with one of her high school’s hottest guys: Uehara. It’s dramatic, funny, adorable (like I said), so go check it out.

I’m literally drawing blanks now on other movies and shows, but these are just some of the diverse things that I’ve personally enjoyed and that I think you should definitely check out.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Do you have any recommendations for me for diverse reads, movies, or shows? I’d really love to hear it! Also, have you read/watched any of the items on my list? Let me know your thoughts!

Rayna Recommends: Swoony Reads

Hey guys, welcome to another installment of my sporadic series, Rayna Recommends! This is a time where I recommend books, movies, and TV shows to you based on the genre or type of books I wanted to talk about.

Today’s recommendations are swoony reads! What are swoony reads, etc., you ask? They’re books/movies/shows that I’ve found myself to feel all giggly inside because of the romance aspect within them. They make you squeal with delight when you think of the romantic relations within them, and you can’t help but smile.

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Let’s Talk | Shadowhunters 1×01 – Pilot

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Source: Shadowhunters TV

The first episode of Shadowhunters premiered on Tuesday, January 12, and since I don’t have cable I wasn’t able to watch it until tonight (mostly because I forgot episodes can play online, derp). It’s a whole new revamp for Cassandra Clare‘s The Mortal Instruments series and I was highly anticipating it, as were many other people. I did see the seven minute preview when it first came out, and now that I watched the episode I wanted to talk a little bit about it.

So here are my thoughts and feels on season one episode one of the series:

The episode starts off with a little bit of a teaser as to the demons and the Shaowhunters, specifically Jace, Isabelle, and Alec. They’re hunting a demon that can change its appearance when it runs into another being and even though it changes its form about three times before entering Club Pandemonium, the Shadowhunters are still able to track it.

We get flashback scenes from eight hours before the time Jace runs into Clary, as well as ten years prior before everything started to become real in Clary’s world. I think that these parts were important to include because not only do we get a little bit of background into the characters, but we also get to see more about what is going on and why things are happening the way they are.

Now Clary just turned eighteen and so she wants to celebrate with her best friend, Simon, but her mom, Jocelyn, wants to talk to her about the Shadow World and the Downworlders and so much more, but Clary just wants to go have fun with her friend.

We get thrown around a bit as Jocelyn struggles to tell Clary what’s happening, about the fight with the demon and how Clary witnesses it, and how her mom sends her through a portal to Luke’s location and how Jocelyn is going to fight with some Circle members.

Confused yet? If you’re not a reader of the series, you probably have no idea what some of the terms I stated even mean. And I think that’s part of the reason why this first episode was a little bit of an info dump. They wanted you to understand the significance of the Mortal Cup, who the Shadowhunters are, why Clary can see them and others can’t, etc.

And I also think that was partially a downfall for the first episode. I honestly thought that the acting could have gone a little smoother, but it wasn’t that it was bad; it was cheesy during some parts, but also very witty in others.

I think that Dominic Sherwood, who plays Jace, did a good job of embodying Jace’s personality: strong, defensive, and a bit egotistical. He does ask a few questions in a way that Jace from the book would have asked them, which made me laugh out loud, literally. So while I appreciated his humor during those parts, other parts I felt that he was just trying too hard. Like dude, loosen up a little! Use some more emotion and stuff.

Katherine McNamara, who plays Clary, was actually my favorite person of the episode. I think that she’s doing a wonderful job playing Clary and that she really showed who she was: smart, loyal, and free. Of course, she was confused a lot of the episode given what was going on, but it was understandable.

Emeraude Toubia, who plays Isabelle, was also a convincing Isabelle: sexy, playful, sarcastic, a little pushy. She didn’t talk much in the episode, but I could see that she will do well to play this kickass heroine. She also has good chemistry with the actor who plays Alec.

Alberto Rosende, who plays Simon, was a good Simon: goofy, in love with Clary, and kind of a hot mess. And let’s all admit it: Simon was a hot mess at the beginning. But I’m sure that he’ll do a better job as the season progresses. He was in a few scenes, but I definitely want to see more.

Matthew Daddario, who plays Alec, was just like the book version of him: stoic, a great fighter, and a complainer. I think that he makes a great Alec and I’m interested in seeing his interactions with the group as the season continues, especially when it comes to Magnus.

Harry Shum Jr, who plays Magnus, did a good job embodying the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Though I was hoping for more scenes with him, he actually didn’t really make an appearance early on in the first book, so I was excited to see him at all in the first episode. But he did play an important role in the early part of Clary’s life, so it was good to see him in more than one scene. Also, he owns Club Pandemonium in the show, so that was a twist.

Isaiah Mustafa, who plays Luke, was actually kind of the cheesiest one of the bunch. Honestly, I was hoping for different lines or maybe different acting. Though I have confidence that he’ll definitely do better as the season progresses, I’m just not convinced yet that this is the Luke who I came to love. But again, it’s one episode, he might just surprise me.

Alan Van Sprang, who plays our villain Valentine, didn’t make much of an appearance, but I know from watching him in another series, Reign, that Van Sprang makes a great villain. And he’s already shown the ruthlessness of Valentine by killing off one of his men in this episode, so yay! A good baddie! I mean, a bad baddie, but a good actor… You know what I’m saying.

Maxin Roy, who plays Jocelyn, also did a good job of portraying Clary’s mom: fiercely protective, guilty of not sharing the secrets of the Shadow World with Clary, and a good fighter. Of course, we didn’t know of how good of her fighting abilities until later in the book series, but still it was cool to see her kick some butt.

Overall, I thought that the acting was okay at best, but it’s only the first episode and I think that some of these actors are relatively new to the spotlight, especially with one as big as the Mortal Instruments fanbase. I’d give the acting a 7/10 stars.

The CGI in the episode was decent, but not up to par with how I would have wanted to see it. Though, to be fair, it’s really hard to imagine a demon and what exactly it would do in a given situation, or even look like. Though the four mouth thing? Yeah, that’s got to stop. Give it some variety! Not every demon looks the same. I think that the effects on the eyes for Magnus were the coolest, as well as the warlock swirling blue magic, but otherwise it has yet to impress me. Also, not thrilled with the seraph blades, sorry. I’d give it a 5/10 stars for CGI.

As far as the storyline goes: yes, it follows the book, but not in a very streamline way. I mean, there are lots of elements from the first book that took place that were definitely shown, but there were a few things that were different, too. As with any show or movie, they will take liberties, but as far as adaptations go I’d give it a good 7.5/10 stars for adaptation.

Overall, I’m giving the first episode of the Shadowhunters series a 6.5/10 stars. I wasn’t totally in love, but there was still plenty there for me to want to see more because my inner fangirl is being fed as we speak. I only hope that it gets better from here, that the acting improves, and that the story doesn’t stray too far from the books.

#VillainSquad Tag

The #VillainSquad tag was created by Lainey of gingerreadslainey on YouTube and I saw what it was about and LOVED IT. Who doesn’t love a good villain? I mean, seriously. Villains are the best, even when they’re at their worst.

So the questions are pretty straight forward: first, pick your villain persona (muahaha), second, you can pick any character from a book, movie, or TV show that you want that fits one of the villain categories before, and third, you’ll have your epic villain squad. So, here we go:

– Create your own villain persona (name, skills, etc)

Okay, I know that my superpower would be flight. I’ve always wanted to fly, and probably always will, so I definitely want the ability to fly. I think a good skill that I would be good at is luring people in to have a sense of trust, and then obviously ripping that away from them. So, manipulation?

As for a name? That’s a tough one… Maybe… Sky Queen.

Yup, I’m rolling with it.
1. The Leader – Pick a villain to lead the squad.

For this I imagine someone strong, willing to take risks, and all around just doing what’s right for the wrong reasons, and so I pick: Valentine Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. He’s a smooth-talker, a charmer, and he knows just how to get what he wants, when he wants. Definitely leader material.


2. The Killer Smile – Pick a villain who’s just extremely attractive

Who doesn’t love a hot villain? For this I’ll have to pick Warner from the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi. Like, he seriously was on fire. Again, a smooth-talking charmer, with an overprotective side, a toned body, and a killer smile? Yes, please.

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3. The Loose Canon – Pick a villain that marches to the beat of their own drum

The villain you never really know what to expect from, and for this one I chose Sebastian from the Mortal Instruments series. He definitely doesn’t really listen to anyone, and he’s fairly unpredictable. On the other hand, he does have a cunning mind, so it’s interesting to see what he does and how he carries on with his plans.

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4. The Unhinged One – Pick a villain that isn’t playing with a full deck.

You know, the crazy one of the group. There’s always one, and I think for this one I’ll have to pick Bellatrix LeStrange from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I can’t speak to book Bellatrix yet, as I haven’t seen her in the books yet, but in the movie she definitely was unhinged: bloodthirsty, uncaring of who was hurt, but still obedient to her master.bellatrix-lestrange-4
5. The Redeemer – Pick a villain that’s on a path of redemption/would play both sides

The guy/girl that can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances, I would have to pick Celaena Sardothian/Aelin Galathynius from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. Now, Aelin is definitely not a villain, but she’s not exactly a hero, either. She can definitely play both sides and I think that she can definitely be seen as a redeemer.

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6. The Evil One – Pick a villain that is just bad to the bone.

This one’s a no-brainer for me: Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, specifically the original Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. She’s the Mistress of All Evil: ruthless, cunning, intelligent, and not afraid to fight her own battles.

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And for crying out loud, she turns into a badass dragon!

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7. The Once-Was-Good – Pick a villain that didn’t originally start out as a villain.

You know the tale: tragic backstory, lots of hate and rage, turns baddy? Well, that’s almost any villain, but for my squad in particular I’d want Regina, aka The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time. Especially in the first season, Regina was all bad and I loved that about her. When we started to get snippets of her backstory, I felt so sad for her! And she can use magic, so I need her on my squad.

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So yes, there is my awesome villain squad! I kinda really dig it.

What about you? Who would you have on your squad? Feel free to do this tag on your own blog, or let me know in the comments who your picks would be (or both!).

Let’s Talk Shadowhunters

I meant to do a lot more posts than just this one and the first one I did, but oh well!

So we have the full cast of Shadowhunters, the TV show that’ll take place on ABC Family starting in 2016 of Cassandra Clare‘s The Mortal Instruments series, and I couldn’t be more excited! We’ve had updates from the very beginning on who was being cast as who, photos of the shoots, fun photos by the cast, and so much more. They’re taking the fans into consideration during this whole process and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

Well, I could if the show started to air now, but that’s not going to happen.

Anyway, let’s talk about the rest of the cast!

Katherine McNamara as Clary Fray

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Our main heroine was cast and I think she was definitely the biggest concern for a lot of fans. I’ve seen her act in the Disney Channel movie Girl vs Monster and I thought she did pretty well as a “villain” type, but I think she’ll be able to do so much better as a hero. She is a natural red head, but she was blond beforehand so she did have to have it dyed back, and I frankly think she really looks the part of Clary. We’ve seen photos from the set and from what I’ve seen so far she looks promising as our main girl.

Matthew Daddario as Alec Lightwood

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Okay, I’m still getting used to him being Alec, and I’m sure he’ll do a good job, but there’s just something about him that doesn’t fit for me. BUT ANYWAY. I’ve seen some screenshots and a few scenes where we can hear him talk or act and I think he’ll make a good Alec: quiet, yet protective, and always trying to be the logical one. I haven’t seen anything he’s been in, but I’m still interested to see how he plays our underrated hero.

Isaiah Mustafa as Luke Garroway

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I love that Luke is being played as a person of color. Seriously. This excites me. We don’t have many descriptions of what Luke actually looks like other than his scruffy beard and wild hair, so I mean, Mustafa has the beard part down! So it works! I don’t think I’ve seen any of the movies he’s acted in, but I think he’s going to make a great Luke. From the pictures I’ve seen, he’s a big goofball, which fits.

Harry Shum Jr. as Magnus Bane

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YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW EXCITED I AM FOR THIS. I’ve seen a bunch of the films and TV shows Shum has been in and OMG I CAN’T WAIT. He’s a great actor with a great set of moves, for one thing. Plus he obviously looks the part because Magnus is at least half-Asian. I’ve seen pictures of him as Magnus, with makeup and everything, and I think he’ll play a magnificent warlock.

Alan Van Sprang as Valentine Morgenstern

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As I’ve seen him act in Reign, I know that he plays a good villain. He’s got the right look for one and I think that he’ll do Valentine justice for sure. Sure, he doesn’t have the same golden locks that Valentine has (or at least what I pictured him to have), but I do think he looks the part of a strong, slightly crazed, man who has made everyone’s life a living hell. Don’t you think?

Maxim Roy as Jocelyn Fray

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Hey, it’s Clary’s mom! And let me tell you, the actresses are adorable together. Though she’ll be absent for most of the series, I’m sure, I think she still has a lot of potential and I’m interested to see how she acts on camera with Katherine, to see if they have chemistry as mother and daughter and whatnot.

And then we have a few other characters who were given actors including: Jon Cor as Hodge (as George Takei would say: oh myyy); David Castro as Raphael Santiago, the resident vampire; Kaitlyn Leeb as Camielle Belcourt, the very powerful, lovely vampire; and Jade Hassoune as Meliorn, the Seelie Queen’s loyal faerie knight.

I’m excited for this cast, and I love that the director, McG, always shares photos and updates with the fans because, well, what director does that?

From what I’ve seen so far the show looks promising and I really hope that all of this hype and whatnot doesn’t let the fans down.

Also, Entertainment Weekly dropped this article giving us AND EXCLUSIVE LOOK with more pictures into the show and OMG I DIED.

Are you excited for the show? What are your thoughts so far? Do you think they’ll do it justice or will it flop? Let me know your thoughts!