House of the Dragon – Karen's Journey: Writing and Beyond (2023)

House of the Dragon – Karen's Journey: Writing and Beyond (1)

I spent many hours in 2022 watching the entire MCU on Disney+. Including the Spider-Man: Homecoming, Far From Home and No Way Home dvds I own. I discovered the picture quality was better with the physical copy than digital.

The internet can be spotty here often, so it bodes well that I have physical copies of movies. No internet=no tv, after cord cutting in 2021, no online activity, and even my lamp timers won’t work.

And watched the entire MCU at least five times. It could be six or seven, but I lost count. I’ve always been a Star Wars fan, but I have ultimately become a bigger fan of Marvel. The Disney quizzes even confirm this!

WandaVision is on repeat at least every other month. The Scarlet Witch is my favorite Marvel character; if you remember from past blogs, Wonder Woman is my favorite DC character. I love Wanda’s character arc. She’s complex, and we are only beginning to see some of her layers.

This brings me to seeing movies in theatres! How exciting it all became for me. It began when I was still under heavy restrictions, but needed to do at least one thing I enjoyed. I would go at first showings, now I am all over the place. With the Marvel movies, I have been going the day before Friday releases. Let me see if I can remember all that I’ve seen in 2022.

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SPOILERS AHEAD! You have been warned

Spider-Man: No Way Home. I saw the film February, 2022. I rewatched it on National Movie Day (and contemplated spending all day in the theatre, rolling through as many movies as I could. I decided it would be a 2023 or 2024 experience.), September 2022. The film incorporated deleted scenes. I believe this added more to the movie, but it was good, a tearjerker at best, and I loved seeing the three Peters. I primarily watched it to see what Dr. Strange was going to do prior to his second movie.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Was I surprised to see Wanda truly embody the Scarlet Witch! The Darkhold’s influence on her gave us another snippet of just how powerful she really is. It equally surprised me to see her as the antagonist. Now, the ending. Jaw-dropping, but she does what we see often: she’s setting things as right as can be. I see through the bright red flash as the Wundergore mountain crashes down. Think back to WandaVision when she uses her shield to protect her family from Agatha. I believe she shields herself at that momentary flash. How she comes back from it will be something I look forward to seeing. You know Wanda/Scarlet Witch is going to return. Because of Peter Parker, with Dr. Strange’s help in No Way Home, and this movie, they cracked the Multiverse wide open.

I saw Morbius. It was okay. I haven’t been a fan of Matt Smith, but after The House of the Dragon, I appreciate his diversity in playing characters of different strengths; I’ll return to HoTD soon. And Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius? Come, Jared! I want more Thirty Seconds to Mars music. It’s been too long!

Thor: Love and Thunder. It was good. Not Ragnarok. I think Taika Waititi tried a little too hard; some of the dialogue and comedy was a bit over the top. Unfortunately, it was in the theatres during a family tragedy, and I didn’t think to warn my brother and his wife about Jane’s character. The soundtrack, though, was excellent.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. RIP Chadwick Boseman. Of course I had to see it early! I was unprepared for the moments of silence, done very well, interspersed throughout the film to honor the late Chadwick Boseman, who really embodied the Black Panther. Before the film came out, I went back to my favorite platform and watched the Marvel movies with the Black Panther.

  • Side note: Disney does a phenomenal job putting the list of movies together in one succession under the character’s name.

Watching Wakanda Forever the first time, I felt part of the movie drag, leading up to the battle with Namor. Over on, they showed Rihanna’s video of “Lift Me Up” I watched upon the song’s release, but didn’t feel the full impact until scene and music came together towards the end when Shuri visited Nakia in Haiti.

  • The emotions hit; I understand what it is like to lose parents and a sibling, and try to navigate life honoring their memories while moving forward with my own life

I think Shuri’s character arc was the most pronounced: how do you go from losing a father, trying to save a dying brother, and failing (as Shuri saw it), to admonishing tradition, holding tight to a mother, and fighting the fact she needs to become the next Black Panther (and a Young Avenger). And dealing with a new ally, or foe, depending upon Namor’s agenda at any given time.

I loved Angela Basset’s monologue as Queen; she was robbed of an Oscar. We see Okoye’s character strengthen before being knocked down, yet shine when it really mattered-fighting for her country. The Dora Milaje! Kick-Ass women warriors! Who doesn’t enjoy seeing Martin Freeman as Agent Ross and the jabs from Okoye? Did anyone else catch the lead-in connection from The Falcon and Winter Soldier and Black Widow? I know any die-hard Marvel fans out there immediately connected the dots and can go down the rabbit hole with more details. And they introduced us to Iron Heart. Does anyone also see the Young Avengers appearing in the new world (post Blip) building? Where they fit in collectively remains a mystery.

Ryan Coogler outdid himself with this film; the music, storytelling, visual components, and the diversity; and combined with Ruth Carter’s vibrant costumes, I had to rewatch the film, this time with my sister and extra tissues. The slower scenes didn’t seem to drag as much with the second viewing. However, I knew it was coming and most likely distracted myself by watching another element of the film. When it arrived on Disney+ I watched it with my dearest friends, and they had questions throughout. I’m looking forward to my next Friday night (Disney) movie night when I am not trying to read, write, jumpstart a business, or simply too exhausted to stay up past 8:00pm (oh, the horror! Yet, happens and is so sad) to watch it on my 65” tv screen, in the dark with a bowl of popcorn and a couple glasses of wine. There’s plenty to soak in before the third film.

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Switching gears from film to tv. As a long-time Disney fan, getting Disney+ was not only necessary, but something I simply won’t give up. During the early shut-in days of the pandemic, my specialist told me to get HBOMax if I wanted to watch movies; I couldn’t leave the four walls of my house. I still have HBOMax and it’s another one I won’t give up.

I’m rewatching The Big Bang Theory for days when I want to laugh and unwind. Friends is in a constant loop: when I can’t fall asleep, it’s on; when I want some background noise during tasks, it’s on. I can’t have any Marvel films on in the background; this writer will want to sit down and find something new to explore and analyze. It’s one reason I enjoy the Marvel films!

I wasn’t all that impressed with The White Lotus, season one, but Jennifer Coolidge’s character was annoying and interesting all at once. I watched season two to see what would happen next. Wow! Mike White has done a great job with these shows, despite the shallow and selfish characters.

I have to talk about it. House of the Dragon. I was with the consensus that the ending of Game of Thrones was not great. With this new prequel, giving a glimpse into House Targaryen, the story has progressed well. It makes a difference George (R.R. Martin) has more input. I believe an author should be involved with movies/shows based on their books. Nobody understands the characters better.

What is even more interesting about HoTD is the time shift halfway through the season. The re-casting was well done! The character arcs developed more (as it should be) with the time jump. This was my weekly show with wine and snacks at a friend’s house. I love the “Ohhhhh shit!” moments in the show. Of course, a dragon needs to fly up from the floor. And, oh boy, the show ended with a dragon fight that did not end well for Rhaenyra and her family. Season two will begin rather heated.

Back over to Disney+ there was Andor. Well written, cast, and definitely worth the weekly watch with a compelling plot, action exactly where it should be, and smart dialogue.

Now, we (finally) have The Mandalorian season three, and I love Bo-Katan’s ship! I was equally excited to see Katee Sackhoff return to continue and watch her arc develop within the Mandalorian clans that have had to move around. I think we’re going to see more Ahsoka before the season ends. If you haven’t seen The Clone Wars and Rebels, they’re worth every minute. Both animated series’, but Dave Filoni is a genius in developing characters and watching them crop up in Favreau’s Mandalorian.

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In between everything else I have on my plate, I continue to work through my 40+ dystopian book list. I’m on Goodreads and make every effort possible to leave reviews. My list is by female writers with female protagonists. This was deliberate because I wanted to read what other female authors have done as I worked on my own dystopian novel with a strong female character.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Read on Kindle

As I began reading this, we were well into the pandemic, with new strains cropping up often. I felt the book was timely and paralleled some of our history. I noticed similarities of characters in The Stand. The traveling caravan throughout the story also parallel stories of humans surviving apocalypses and moving around because it’s better than staying in one place. Here, the caravan group didn’t stay in one place for too long because societies were already forming, lawless, and often choosing to remain distanced. The antagonist is Tyler; I caught the clues in the book leading up to the person he would become (No spoilers). The ending was okay; the ending seemed like a piece was missing, but overall, the message of hope and exploring a way to recreate a former society.

It became a series on HBOMax. I haven’t watched it yet. It’s buried in my to-watch list. I am curious to see how the show translated the book.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Read on Kindle

This book is not for anyone who abhors rape worked into a storyline. This book is rough in that aspect, but in a dystopian society, all bets are off; there’s greed, communities striving to stay intact, and the protagonist, Lauren, leaves once her community is breaking down. Apparently, I forgot to include a Goodreads review. The book was well written, published in 1993, set in 2024, but I have no intentions of reading the rest of the series.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Own the paperback. Considered more of a speculative fiction (spec fic) with fantasy elements.

I gave this book five stars in my Goodreads. I don’t see a posted review, which means I need to go back and post one. The setting is in Africa. There are also rape scenes in this book, but specifically used to thrust the story forward to understand the protagonist. This book was so well written, I heavily covered my copy of page flags and highlighted passages. I do this for books I read for research, and for ones that keep me engaged from the first page to the last. Okorafor’s ability to entice me into the story entranced me, as if I was in the environment and right there with Onyesonwu..

This book is slated for tv down the road, with Tessa Thompson and George RR Martin teaming up as producers. There haven’t been any new updates since 2021, and Thompson’s interview in Bazaar, 2022, didn’t cover any additional details. I will be watching for the release date; I am curious to see how this translates from the page to our screens.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E.Schwab Read on Kindle. Wish list to own physical copy since this is worth another read.

This wasn’t on my list, but after hearing Schwab speak at a virtual fantasy writing This wasn’t on my list, but after hearing Schwab speak at a virtual fantasy writing conference, I was curious. What a brilliant book! I loved the time jump and immortality of Addie LaRue. It ranks high and joins my done reading list with The Midnight Library (Matt Haig).

I have a speculative fiction novel that encompasses time jumping, of a different nature, and I loved watching Addie learn about her relationship with people over time; everyone in her life was a blip, and she didn’t exist as she returned; until Henry remembers her. Luc is the antagonist and pulls the puppet strings. This is a must read. I got swept up in Schwab’s prose and thoroughly enjoyed the book. My sister read it at a much later time and told me she also liked it.

Back to my list. I’m currently reading The Power, by Naomi Alderman, that recently hit Amazon Prime. I can count on a single hand how many books keep me up through the wee hours of the morning (Mists of Avalon, Fairy Tale), and this book is being added. The premise is interesting. I plan to finish this book by the end of the week. Stay tuned in the next installment.

I love reading books. They provide places to escape to, explore, and experience. Films do the same. TV can offer the visual type of escapism, if done right. It was my mother who went hoarse reading to us at night when we were young and passing her books to me to read. I enjoy watching character arcs move within the story. I am constantly reading because it makes me a better writer. I write because I need my stories to find a place in our world.

“What I’m Reading and Watching” will become a monthly post here in this blog world. I have a bi-weekly blog covering current books I’m reading, or finished, over on Jade Bookends, targeted for an audience of writers who want to explore the writing craft or need help writing their own stories down on a page.

I’ll return in May with 2023 movie, tv, and book reviews. Thank you for reading!


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