At long last, it’s time for another Queue post!! Meaning, time to talk about all the things I enjoyed over the last few months of being at home in “quarantine”.
For those who may not know what “The Queue” is all about, here’s a quick description – this ongoing series of blog posts exists to review all the books, movies, music, podcasts, and other things I’ve consumed in the past month (or in this case, about two months), allowing my mind to process everything I’ve done and, through giving short reviews and recommendations here on this blog, hopefully, help you guys find new and exciting things to enjoy as well!
Now let’s get started!
I’m afraid to say my reading of physical, printed books lately has not been going very well. I’ve been reading Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson for the past couple of months, and while I have absolutely loved every page and have endeavored to savor it, “savor” doesn’t usually mean “drag a < 200-page book out for more than two consecutive months”. Heh Heh. *sheepish face*
That said, AtD is a WONDERFUL book and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s listened to Mr. Peterson’s music, read his Wingfeather Saga, or is an artist of any sort. There are some amazing things about the marriage of faith and art in there, and my copy is full of starred pages, underlined passages, and notes in the margins. I’ll probably write a full review of it later, but as a Christian creative and who is trying to figure out the place of art in her life and faith, I really can’t say enough good things about it.
The other physical reading I’ve done lately (aside from the Bible) has been to finally start E. B. Dawson’s short story collection, Head in the Heavens, which I received for Christmas. As readers of this blog likely remember, I’ve been struggling with insomnia lately, and sometimes when I can’t think of anything else to do, reading helps. So that’s how I finally got around to reading the first story in the book, “Nomad of the Emirates”. Which was REALLY GOOD, and now I want to read a lot more of Dawson’s sci-fi.
The next two things I have to list are actually audio format, but I decided to put them in my “Reading” section instead of the “Listening” one because they’re audiobook adaptions of printed books. So they’re not exclusively-for-audio media, like audio dramas and podcasts and music.
First, I’ve also been listening to the audiobooks of The Stoneheart Trilogy by Charlie Fletcher (narrated by Jim Dale) after seeing Grace Crandall mention them, and specifically the fact that they had gargoyles, on Twitter. In case I haven’t mentioned it here before, gargoyles are a special weakness of mine. As of writing this post, I’m about a third of the way through the second book in the trilogy right now, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It reminds me of “The Dark is Rising Sequence”, but with a much smaller cast and taking place in much less time and space. And while I really like George, the main character and the catalyst whose actions may start a war between the statues of London, it’s Edie, the young Scottish girl with a rough past and the ability to see the history of the stones she touches, who has my whole heart. I’ll likely write a full review of the whole series once I finish it, because I had a lot more in this paragraph original, but had to cut it down. 😂
Another audiobook I listened to — and HIGHLY enjoyed — was the audiobook adaptation of The Beast of Talesend, narrated by Joel Daffurn.
I’m already a huge fan of this series and all the Afterverse books, and so I knew I had to eventually listen to the audiobooks the minute they were first announced. It was the discovery that my dad has an Audible subscription he rarely uses and his offer to get me some audiobooks with his unused credits that gave me the chance to finally do so. The fun thing about this adaptation is how the narrator completely takes on the character of Nick Beasley, a skeptical detective attempting to disprove the existence of magic when he’s turned into a beast by a magic rose (yes, that magic rose) and dragged along on the misadventures of a young enchantress. The whole book is Nick’s own story, written entirely from his POV, and Daffurn does a good job bringing out the personality of the character that’s already present in the writing even more with his narration.
As usual, there are two distinct subcategories in this section: Music and Audio Dramas/Podcasts.
There are three music artists I’ve listened to the most lately: Andrew Peterson, Skye Peterson, and Samuel Kim. I’m just going to give a quick overview of each of them and a couple of recommendations for each.
- Andrew Peterson
I listen to a LOT of Andrew Peterson’s music anyway, as he’s one of my favorite Christian artists out there. But this Easter season I finally got around to listening to his “Resurrection Letters” albums. There are three titles in this “series”: a Prologue, Volume 1, and Volume 2. Similarly to how “Behold the Lamb of God” is essentially a concept album for Advent, each of the albums in this series is meant for a distinct part of the Easter season. The Prologue is centered around the themes of Good Friday, Volume 1 is for Easter Sunday, and Volume 2 for Eastertide (all the time between Easter and Pentecost Sunday, 50 days in all). My favorite tracks from each are “Always Good” from the Prologue, “Risen Indeed” and “Is He Worthy” from Volume 1, and “All Things New” from Volume 2.
- Skye Peterson
If you didn’t happen to know already, yes, Skye is Andrew Peterson’s daughter. And she’s already showing how she’s inherited a very large dose of her father’s singer and songwriter skills. She’s still young (probably not far from my own age, come to think of it), but she’s doing a good job carving out a style for her music. If you’ve heard much of her father’s music, you’ll definitely hear the resemblance in her albums, but they’ve got their own twist too. The main reason I listened to Skye’s music so much lately is that she released a new album several weeks ago, with the title track, “Searching for Us,” being my favorite. (However, if you’d like to listen to her earlier music, “Lost Dog” is my favorite from her previous album, Tell Me Again.)
- Samuel Kim
I started listening to this artist’s music on the recommendation of my sister. Most of it is arrangements of movie themes, and he creates some absolutely amazing ones based on the Star Wars franchise. I especially love that he includes characters and musical cues from the animated series – with the end of The Clone Wars, I’ve been listening to his arrangement of Ahsoka’s Theme (titled simply “Ahsoka Tano” and included in his Star Wars: Epic Collection, Vol. 2) quite a lot lately. Here’s the track on his YouTube channel, because it’s just too good not to include here:
UPDATE: I had to come back and add this one, too, released yesterday (at the time of my writing this), because I happened to click onto it and listen while I worked on this post and IT GAVE ME GOOSEBUMPS AND ALMOST MADE ME CRY. DO NOT listen if you haven’t yet seen the finale of The Clone Wars and don’t want spoilers, the video contains clips from the last few scenes!! But if not… please listen to it and let your tears flow with the beauty and bittersweetness. 😭
Confession: I have listened to a LOT of Big Finish audio dramas over the last few months. Like, a very very large amount. I really don’t want to look back and try to add up all the money I’ve spent on them since the year started, I’m sure it’ll make me highly uncomfortable. 😅
The biggest thing, I think, is that I’ve finally made it through all of the stories in the arc with the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard aside from a few special releases (and that one episode of Doom Coalition that has Charley in it). But for all intents and purposes, I’ve heard them all. That’s right – I’ve finally seen the end of the storyline that got me to really begin listening to Big Finish Doctor Who in the first place. *blows nose and sobs a little* I’m not even going to attempt to cover ALL of those (though I may try writing a post about some of my favorites soon), but I will say that Eight, C’rizz, and Charley are one of my all-time favorite TARDIS teams now, and it’s a tragedy that they don’t get more recognition.
I’ve also been working through the stories with the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe, and they’ve quickly become another couple of favorites. Given the reputation ol’ Sixie has throughout most of the fandom, I was a little skeptical at first, but I started listening to their stories that are on Spotify first, and ended up absolutely loving them. Steady, sensible, mature-but-still-fun-loving Evelyn is the perfect companion for the boisterous, easily-provoked Sixth Doctor, and their relationship is actually quite beautiful. I have five or six more audios before I get to the end of their story, but I’m not ready for Evelyn to go yet. 😭
I mentioned the “free on Spotify” detail – there are quite a few of the earlier releases from Big Finish (Doctor Who and other properties) available there, and one range they have a good amount of titles from is The Lost Stories. These are scripts written for production for the TV series, but for whatever reason, they didn’t end up being completed. Since I was enjoying Six and Evelyn’s stories so much, I decided to also try a few Six and Peri stories from this range. A couple of stories I really enjoyed are Paradise 5 and Song of Megaptera.
And finally, the true evidence that I have become hopelessly tangled in the depths of Doctor Who nerdom, never to see the light of normality again — I’ve begun listening to the Gallifrey spin-off. I’ve made it through the first four chapters so far. For a political drama full of somewhat stuffy, not-all-that-likable politicians, it’s actually very enjoyable. It’s far denser and more “grown-up” than the show, without the whimsical property that I love so much about Doctor Who. But it features two of my favorite Classic Who companions as its leads: Romana (President of Gallifrey at the time of these stories), and Leela (now also an inhabitant of Gallifrey since her marriage to a Time Lord). Two other significant characters are Cardinal Braxietel (a Time Lord politician Who nerds will also know to be the Doctor’s older brother), and Coordinator Narvin (the leader of the CIA, a.k.a. “Celestial Intervention Agency”).
And finally, the one NON-Doctor Who thing in this subsection: sermons by Chuck Swindoll. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about these, except that I really enjoy his teaching style and he has some great messages with very practical, real-world applications for the everyday Christian life. Here’s a link to his ministry’s daily broadcast in podcast form on Spotify, where I usually listen to them: Insight for Living Daily Broadcast.
There’s actually not a ton for this section. The Clone Wars finally saw its final season, I watched along as the new episodes dropped on Disney+, and it was magnificent. The final arc and specifically the final episode was especially amazing, and I probably won’t be over it for a while.
I’ve fallen rather behind on my Classic Doctor Who watch, I’m afraid, but I have made it to Four and Romana II. Her regeneration scene had me cackling, and I was able to get my sisters to watch “City of Death” with me (a real accomplishment, considering that while they like Doctor Who in general and seldom pass up a chance to watch new episodes with me, they’re not very impressed by the older ones).
The main thing here is that my family has been watching Fringe (one of JJ Abrams’ sci-fi dramas) together every night for the past few weeks. I actually don’t want to say very much about this yet, because I’m already planning a review of the first two seasons for next weekend. But I do love it. It has some issues (I’ll talk about these in my review), but it’s also got a massive overarching plot, copius amounts of foreshadowing and hints and details that only gain significance MUCH later scattered about from the first episode, and some great writing and character work. It’s been a really fun thing to get into since the second half of quarantine started, and watching a new episode with my family every night has given me something to look forward to and motivation to finish my school assignments each day.
I’ve been knitting a lot since quarantine started, as well as compiling a truly formidable list of craft projects to do next and wishlist of craft supplies.
I’ve gotten in quite a bit of cosplay research/planning/preliminary work as well, which I’m proud of. I’ve planned four or five cosplays I’d like to do this year, which I think is a reasonable amount to challenge myself with, without becoming bogged down and losing inspiration under the workload. The two I’m actively working on now (which you likely already know about if you follow my Instagram) are Lady Cordelia Beaumont from the Afterverse books, and the Fourth Doctor (I’m tentatively planning to recreate his look from City of Death, at least for the moment). Lady Cordelia is largely my own design based on descriptions of her appearance from the books. And with the Fourth Doctor, I’m attempting to strike a balance between screen-accurate and an interpretation of what the costume would look like if the character was female. It’ll likely turn out to be a very light genderbend cosplay. I’ll be writing more about both of these projects, and the others I’m hoping to complete this year, very soon.
Since being confined to the house, I’ve also been trying to walk the neighborhood with my mom every day for some much-needed bodily exercise, and I’m trying to keep my creative muscles stretched by writing fanfiction whenever the inspiration strikes. It’s all very niche, I’m afraid, mostly being inspired by the Doctor Who audio dramas I was talking about before *sheepish laugher*. But it’s been fun to try my hand at, and I’m a lot more comfortable writing characters from established properties now than I once was.
Annnnd that’s it!! Whew, I know that was a lot of words, thanks for hanging in there with me!
Let me know what you guys have been up to since quarantine started! 😁