2018 in Film

Last year, I started strong thinking I was going to watch a ton of movies, my best year yet! It was even a resolution of mine, because I was armed with MoviePass and the opportunity to watch movies as a contributor for Punch Drunk Critics.

But then… well… I stumbled pretty hard. When my mental health took a hit, I definitely didn’t go see any movies, especially when MoviePass became harder and harder to use. My PDC reviews dropped off in the summer. (Sorry Travis!)

A couple of things I noticed with this year’s movies:

  • It was a big year for superhero movies for me and I didn’t even see all of them.
  • No early screenings this year! I just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to wait in line and spend the time this past year, and I was less incentivized once I started paying for movie subscription services.
  • Despite the long stretch of time I was in China this year, I didn’t get to go to the movies while I was there,

Without further ado, here are all the 2018 theatrical releases I watched last year:

2018 in movies
Collage of movie posters for movies watched in 2018

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2018 in Books

As I’ve done the past few years, I participated in Goodreads’s annual reading challenge. Having exceeded last year’s goal and finishing at 19, I set my 2018 book goal at 20 books.

I wound up reading almost 30, coming in just short at 29 books.

A few quick reflections on my reading challenge this year:

  • I felt a lot faster finishing books this year, in large part because I was not reading the A Song of Fire and Ice series this year, having finished that last year. It took me weeks to finish each of those books with the scant amount of reading time I had, so the quantity of books I read last year took a toll because I read several 1,000+ page books.
    • The longest book I read last year was 1,177 pages, whereas the longest book I read this year was 818 pages.
  • That being said, I sped through my first five books and then really felt my decrease in velocity when I hit that 818-pager.
    • It typically takes me a few days to about 3 weeks to finish a book, given that I read almost exclusively on my commute to and from work. It took me almost 3 months to finish this year’s behemoth.
  • I enjoyed reading a lot more mindfully this year. There were days when I would steal away for a quick walk outside to clear my head during the workday, or take lunch by myself on a nearby bench, with my Kindle in tow to get some sunshine and reading done.
  • I much preferred the mindful reading to what I find myself doing often, which is walking to and from the subway while reading. This is, admittedly, not a very safe practice.
    • But! While doing this in DC one day, I walked past a friend who was doing the exact same thing! She was the one who looked up from her book to recognize me, but I felt so validated seeing her with her open Kindle in hand, too.
  • With the end of the Blogging for Books program, I didn’t feel as much of the obligation getting through books I didn’t enjoy but was reading for review this year.

Here are the books I finished reading in 2018:

Collage of book covers
The covers of the 29 books I read in 2018

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Skincare to Try 2018

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! I have been away from the blog for a long while because of some health issues, but I wanted to come back and really re-focus on self-care and self-improvement. So, here’s a post that is related to one of my favorite ways to take care of myself for me: taking care of my skin!

In 2017, I tackled some new-to-me Skincare Products to Try thanks to a thoughtful gift from Christine and, my personal weakness, value gift sets.

Before I launch into the embarrassing number of mini skincare products I now own thanks to these value gift sets, I never reviewed the products I tried last year. Quick reviews on each set of products (check the original blog post for the specific brands and products included):

  • The Tatcha Beauty Essentials Discovery set was really good for someone like me, who uses nicer skincare more sparingly than I ought to. The products felt great on my skin, although I don’t think I used them consistently/frequently enough to notice a difference attributable to them specifically. I used these products most when incorporated into the Fifty Shades of Snail pore minimizing routine, which requires a cleansing oil. (Definitely try this if you want to deep clean your face!) The powder cleanser is interesting (and, I believe, TSA-compliant, because it’s not a liquid) but more of a novelty to me. Still, this is a great introductory kit to the brand and really good if you like trying new products but not committing to them for the duration of however-long a full-length product lasts you.
  • The 2016 Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora set was really exciting to me but not only did I only end up liking products that I have substitutes for (the overnight water pack, the physical exfoliant) but I found some products just overwhelmingly mediocre? (Looking at the lip balm that sat there and didn’t do anything, the vitamin C serum that smells weird, and sorry but I never liked the smell of rosewater so that mist was doomed from the start). Also, I don’t know how to use the eyelash enhancer but if I’m using it right it’s not doing anything I think…
  • My 2016 Sephora birthday gift was okay… but I don’t understand the hype around these fresh products. The soy cleanser is a holy grail around the internet but it dried my skin but didn’t seem to really clean it very well, while the mask just sat goopy on my face until I washed it off to no real positive effect?
  • My darling Christine sent over some great Korean beauty items that I am still working through because, again, I am notoriously slow with using up my skincare items. But I do like the Skinfood mask/scrub as a replacement to my ol’ Freeman black sugar mask/scrub and have started incorporating that Missha essence in a modified 3-to-7 skin method to combat winter dryness. I’m not sure how well that’s working out… BUT the ampoule feels so lovely on my face and, while I never use it without the essence, I think that’s really kicking up my skincare efficacy.

Hmmm… maybe I should’ve made the reviews of last year’s skincare products its own post? If you want more in-depth reviews of the stuff I mentioned above, I can do that later, but let me introduce the products that I need to start using before I let myself try anything new.

So, I do have a bad habit of buying little gift sets of skincare for myself because they are a great value for a person like me, who uses products sparingly, infrequently, and inconsistently. (I have a bottle of face wash that I have been using for literally 6-7 years? It foams up a lot so I don’t need a lot per wash…  that being said I definitely use it way less than daily.) As a result, I am not allowing myself to buy anything else until I have tried everything I introduce in this post and use up at least… 1/3? 1/2 of the products? (That I like. Of course, if I hate most of the products, I hope I won’t force myself to use them up.)

Shout-out to the Pike & Rose Sephora for the sweet, sweet friends & family event they held where I walked away with not one, not two, but four different skincare gift sets.

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My Sephora ~ H A U L ~ #notspon

I’ve always gravitated towards the curated Sephora Favorites sets. Even the sets that I am not as interested in, like the makeup and fragrance ones, seem like great values and a good variety of products to try. In fact, one of my first purchases at Sephora was their Sephora Favorites Superstars gift set, which comprises their bestsellers from every year. (I haven’t repurchased this in the years since because a lot of products reappear from year to year and I use my products so sloooowly.) However, this year, not only did I walk around holding these 3 Sephora Favorites boxes, I also impulsively grabbed an Origins set, maybe because I had spent a lot of time at a local Origins store event right before this shopping one. (Sorry for not buying from the Origins store, kindly Origins staff. In my defense, you were not carrying this specific gift set.)

Anyway, let’s meet each set!!

Origins gift set

This Origins set includes:

  • Modern Friction dermabrasion exfoliant
  • Ginzing scrub cleanser
  • Ginzing eye cream
  • Ginzing gel moisturizer
  • High-Potency Night-a-Mins renewal cream
  • Clear Improvement charcoal mask – single use pack x2
  • Drink Up Intensive overnight mask – single use pack x2

I’m excited for this because I had a good experience trying out the Modern Friction in the store and have heard great things about Night-a-Mins. I had a not-so-great experience with the Ginzing eye cream several years ago but 2018 is about me giving brands new chances so… here we are.

Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora

This past year’s Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora set is curated every year to feature popular indie brands (like the internet favorite, Drunk Elephant) and includes:

  • Biossance squalane + vitamin C rose oil
  • Herbivore Blue Tansy resurfacing clarity mask
  • Cane + Austin Miracle Pad+ (back again from last year!)
  • Farmacy Honey Potion mask
  • Lancer The Method: Nourish moisturizer
  • Youth to the People kale + green tea spinach vitamins cleanser
  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial peel
  • Drunk Elephant virgin marula facial oil
  • Tata Harper repairative moisturizer
  • Sol Janeiro Brazilian bum bum cream
  • Rich Kid coconut oil gel
  • Skin Laundry foaming face wash

Sephora Favorites: Soko to Tokyo

There was an earlier iteration of the Sephora Favorites: Soko to Tokyo gift set, because I remember considering it heavily before Sephora started distributing Laneige. (I was wondering why Target stopped carrying them…) Anyway here’s what the box contains:

  • belif Aqua Bomb moisturizer
  • boscia sake cleansing water
  • Laneige water sleeping mask
  • Shiseido Benefiance eye cream
  • AmorePacific Moisture Bound essence
  • SK-II essence
  • Laneige Water Bank moisturizer
  • Tatcha Polished cleansing powder (as seen in my Tatcha Essentials kit from last time!)
  • Too Cool for School egg cream mask
  • Cicapair tiger grass cream

I love me my Asian beauty so I’m really excited to dig into this kit, even though I have used several of the products already. (That SK-II essence doe!)

And last but not least…

Sephora Favorites: Skin Wonderland

The Sephora Favorites: Skin Wonderland is a set of best sellers for those treat-yo-skin days and consists of:

  • Foreo LUNA play
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta peel
  • IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup cleansing balm
  • Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
  • AmorePacific Essential Creme Fluid moisturizer
  • Drunk Elephant Lala Retro whipped cream moisturizer
  • First Aid Beauty coconut priming moisturizer
  • fresh umbrian clay mask
  • boscia white charcoal treatment primer
  • Sunday Riley C.E.O moisturizer
  • Kate Somerville ExfoliKate exfoliant
  • tarte maracuja eye cream
  • Josie Maran whipped argan oil

I’m super excited to start making my way through these little bottles and tubs of products! In the meantime, don’t anyone let me buy anything new, okay?

Also, Christine got me more great KBeauty products to try out this year!

Soko Glam gift from Christine

Christine sent me a thoughtful package from Soko Glam, the curated Korean beauty marketplace, and I am super excited to try out:

  • Missha The First Treatment essence mist (the mist version of the essence she gifted me last year!)
  • Neogen Bio-Peel+ gauze peel in wine
  • Missha Safe Block SPF 50+ facial sunscreen

I have been hoarding all of these brand-new products for a long time, so I’m working hard to make sure I do my routine a lot more regularly (versus once a week, on a good week), so that I can clear out my old products and start trying these new ones!

What were some of your favorite skincare products that you’d recommend?
Do you have any thoughts on any of the products I listed that I’m going to try? Love it? Hate it? Super meh on it?

The Comic Book Story of Video Games | review

The gaming industry produced over $100 billion in revenue this past year, and that number is only going to go up. Within any of our lifetimes, whether your first game was Angry Birds or Pong, the progression of video games has been astounding. The Comic Book Story of Video Games is an incredibly informative graphic novel that tells the incredible story of the electronic gaming revolution.

http://images.randomhouse.com/cover/9780399578908?width=450&alt=no_cover_b4b.gif

This graphic novel starts with the history of video, which is the actual logical place to start the history of video games! Don’t be deceived by the fun drawings and the inclusion of video game characters through this history (it’s a fun Easter egg to spot them!), but this was actually a fairly technical background on the technology behind video and gaming! I loved learning so, so much about the technological innovation that went into bringing video games to life.

I also really loved learning about the context of some of the biggest games in history. What was the historical context for Pong and Pac-man and Pokemon? What technological advances were necessary for each of those games to come out? What made Microsoft come out with XBox? What is the highest-selling console of all time? How did console gaming finally take off to begin with?

These questions and more are answered in this fun read, and I highly recommend it to anyone with even a tiny bit of interest in video games and technology.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

2017 in Film

I seem to say this every year but I didn’t watch as many movies as I wanted to in 2017. Especially as the year started winding down and the holiday season started ramping up, I stopped wanting to commit to attending movie screenings (2 hours of run time + waiting in line for a good seat + the commute to and from these theaters).

One thing that did change my movie watching this year was joining the team at Punch Drunk Critics. I am getting to watch some really cool indie flicks and documentaries that I wouldn’t otherwise be going to see and the PDC team has been so great to work with so far. I can’t wait to do more with them in 2018!

Without further ado, here are the new releases I watched in 2017:

2017 in Film

  1. Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World
  2. Table 19
  3. *Beauty and the Beast
  4. T2 Trainspotting
  5. Gifted
  6. Get Out
  7. The Fate of the Furious
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  9. Wonder Woman
  10. *The Big Sick
  11. Baby Driver
  12. *Spider-Man: Homecoming
  13. Footnotes
  14. Girls Trip
  15. A Family Man
  16. The Dark Tower
  17. The Good Catholic
  18. It Happened in LA
  19. The Breadwinner
  20. Thor: Ragnarok
  21. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

*Watched outside of original run (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime, on a plane)


It’s been a great year for movies and I’m excited for what 2018 has to bring. With me continuing to write for PDC and having just received my MoviePass in the mail, I hope this year I can watch more movies!

This year, I’d also like to try tracking the movies I watch on Letterboxd, since I’ve have a bit of success tracking books on Goodreads and haven’t used my Letterboxd account in about 4 years!

What movies did you love last year?  There are a lot of great ones I know I’m missing, especially with awards season happening right now. Movies this past year also got very split opinions, with people loving or hating them more than in the past.

What movies are you excited for in 2018? Personally, I’m really excited to see Black Panther and, despite how much AOU disappointed me, Avengers: Infinity War, because I’m always going to get hyped for the Avengers. I’m also really looking forward to Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, among many other releases coming up this year.