Stardew Valley

Dynamite Review Best of 2020

This was a unique year. Books were plentiful, movies were not, and I dedicated myself to one game. So in some ways it was easy to make my lists this year. In other ways it wasn’t.

Movies

I have ten movies to list but the ones at the end weren’t necessarily movies I loved, but they were movies I enjoyed.

  1. Hamilton on Disney+ – I have re-watched this movie so many times. Years ago when everyone was into the soundtrack I could never get into it. The visual made all the difference. I love it.
  2. The Old Guard on Netflix– The first time I watched The Old Guard I thought it was a good generic action movie. With each re-watch, and there have been a few, I love it more. It’s almost everything I’ve ever asked for in an action movie. I hope they’re able to make a sequel.
  3. Bill and Ted Face the Music – This was the movie I needed in 2020. It was so hopeful and fun. When it came out I streamed it with friends and when we finished I felt so happy. It wasn’t amazing, but it was definitely something I needed.
  4. Jingle Jangle on Netflix – This was such an amazing Christmas musical. The songs were great, the story was heartwarming, and oh my god those costumes.
  5. Enola Holmes on Netflix – This was a fun watch. Enola was an entertaining character and I enjoyed seeing her make her way in the world.
  6. Birds of Prey – The one bright spot in the DCEU. Seriously, the only DC movie I like after Wonder Woman 1984 retroactively ruined any goodwill I had for Wonder Woman.
  7. Happiest Season on Hulu – Another Christmas movie but one that I connected with on several levels. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true so I’m leaving it.
  8. A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting on Netflix – This was another Netflix movie that I hope ends up birthing a new franchise. It was one of those rare movies that my kids and I both enjoyed.
  9. Sonic the Hedgehog – How did this end up being such a better movie than Detective Pikachu?
  10. The Babysitter: Killer Queen on Netflix – I had no idea this was a sequel and despite my extreme dislike of horror movies I plan on watching the first one. It was so ridiculous and over the top that I found it difficult to ever be too scared to continue.

Books

I tried to read all the books in 2020 that I was interested in. I failed. Epically. If I was to wait until I’d read them all this list wouldn’t come out until the middle of next year. Still, I read a LOT and there were several that I loved. I’m going to include one book that didn’t come out this year that I read for the first time because I enjoyed it that much.

  1. Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews– Is there every going to be a list without an Ilona Andrews book? I hope not.
  2. The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan– My historical romance reading this year was off the charts and this was my favorite.
  3. The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler– I laughed so much while reading this book and the sequel was just as good.
  4. How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole – The first book in the new Alyssa Cole series and it was easily just as good as the Reluctant Royals series.
  5. The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk– Wow I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did but it is one that stuck with me even after I finished reading.
  6. Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams– This series is one of my best finds of 2020. It’s so much fun and I love the premise.
  7. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix – After being disappointed by the last Garth Nix book I read I was so excited after I read this one. It reminded me why I consider him to be one of my favorite authors.
  8. When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare– This is the older book I’m including on my list. This entire series was excellent, but this book in particular was highly entertaining. It was a sexy romantic comedy.
  9. The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde – Ughhh this book was so good. Even better after the recent events in the US.
  10. Snapped by Alexa Martin – I’m not a fan of football, but this series has been one I’ve enjoyed reading. I thought Martin did a good job in Snapped handling a very difficult issue.

TV Shows

Like with books I had a lot of TV Shows I re-watched. It was the year of finding comfort wherever I could. I’ve tried to keep this list to just 2020 seasons, but in cases where there were older seasons I often re-watched the entire series.

  1. Brooklyn 99 on NBC – Easily one of my all-time favorite TV shows, it’s a miracle I didn’t re-watch this more than once last year.
  2. Bridgerton on Netflix – Please, please, please Netflix make this entire series!!
  3. Julie and the Phantoms on Netflix – The music was great and completely overshadowed the teenage angst for me.
  4. The Good Place – I legitimately forgot this ended this year. I loved the ending. I thought there was no way it could live up to the rest of the show and it did.
  5. The Babysitter’s Club on Netflix – This was apparently the year of babysitters, I believe this is the third one to end up in this post. I loved the book series and I was so happy to see how they modernized it.
  6. The Mandalorian on Disney+ – This season was so much better than the first and I enjoyed the first. There were several great episodes and they better get Mando back with baby Yoda.
  7. The Umbrella Academy on Netflix – Five, Aidan Gallagher, is such an amazing actor. I can easily see him as an old man. The story this season was better than last season and I’m glad the family seems to have gotten back together. After that cliffhanger ending I’m eagerly waiting for the next season.
  8. Sex Education on Netflix – Last year was just too long of a year. Shows came out that I enjoyed that I forgot came out. This was one of them. Every time I watch Sex Education I’m surprised at how much I enjoy it.
  9. Doctor Who on BBC America – I’m enjoying the new Doctor and companions so much, though, honestly I barely remember this season.
  10. Guys Grocery Games on Hulu – This was one of my biggest comfort watches of 2020. This beat out The Great British Baking Show to be my favorite cooking show of the year. It’s fun and yummy.

Video Games

Did games that weren’t Animal Crossing come out in 2020? I couldn’t scrape together ten games that I played and liked this year. I play most games on the PC through steam, but included links to Amazon versions. So here is my abbreviated list.

  1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Nintendo – I played hundreds of hours of Animal Crossing in 2020. I’d play an ungodly amount, take a break, then come back and play an ungodly amount again. I’m currently taking a break, but I’ll be back, there’s no question.
  2. Hades by Supergiant Games – Holy shit this game was so unexpectedly amazing. The voice cast was phenomenal. The art style was beautiful. The game play was fun. I knew nothing about Hades until all my friends started playing it and I am so freaking glad I went out on a limb and bought it.
  3. Stardew Valley by ConcernedApe– Technically this game didn’t come out in 2020, however it had a pretty big update so I’m including it. The update got be back into the game and it’s currently replaced Animal Crossing in my obsessive playing.
  4. No Man’s Sky by Hello Games– Another game that didn’t technically come out in 2020, but it had several updates. It’s crazy to think back to when this game first released and compare it to now. They’ve added so much. It’s one of those games that I love to go back to again and again.
  5. My Time at Portia by Pathea – Yeah, yeah, I know it didn’t come out in 2020 either. I filled my time before Animal Crossing came out playing it though.
  6. The Sims 4 by EA Games – The Sims 4 had two Expansion Packs that came out this year. I wasn’t a fan of Eco Lifestyle and haven’t played Snowy Escape yet. However, I needed another game for the list and it’s one I played a fair amount of earlier in the year.
  7. Two Point Hospital by Two Point Studios – I mean, there was DLC released this year so…I’m including it.
  8. Civilization VI by Firaxis – Just deal with it.

Dynamite Review Best of 2017

Movies

1.      Thor: Ragnarok – I don’t get to watch new movies much as they come out, but I was so lucky to get to see this in theaters. It was AWESOME! I’ve already pre-ordered the steelbook from Best Buy, I got the theatrical poster off of Disney Movie Rewards and it’s framed and in my kids bathroom, and I can’t wait to watch it again and again.

2.     John Wick 2 – Great action movie and addition to the series. Awesome world, I’m interested in the Stars series that’s potentially coming out.

3.     Kingsman: The Golden Circle – In your face, over the top action.

4.     Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – While not as good as the previous one I loved so many things about this movie. The colors, the characters, the relationships. I’m so glad that this is part of the Marvel Universe.

5.     Spider-Man: Homecoming – I really enjoyed this movie but what’s potentially more important, my daughter loves this movie.

6.     Moana – This is more an honorable mention since it came out in 2016 not 2017. Love the music and the story, reminds me of the Disney I grew up with.

Books

1.      White Hot by Ilona Andrews – The long awaited sequel to Burn for Me, so good.

2.     Wildfire by Ilona Andrews – Love this series so much, want more. Wasn’t too happy with the ending, but still love.

3.     Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan – Beautiful art, interesting story, need some answers though. The only comic I pre-order.

4.     The Rosetta Man by Claire McCague – Picked this up randomly and I ended up loving it. So happy when that happens.

5.     Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs – Not my favorite Patricia Briggs book, too many Doctor Who references, lots of other little things, but still a Patricia Briggs book so it’s going on the list!

6.     Heartstrikers Series by Rachel Aaron – This series didn’t come out last year, though they did have a book release that I haven’t read yet, but I had to put it on the list because I enjoyed it so much.

7.     The Guardians Trilogy by Nora Roberts – This is the kind of Nora Roberts series that I love. It didn’t come out in 2017, but after being wary of starting it because of her more recent books I got to it late.

TV Shows

1.      The Crown – I resisted watching this because I heard so much praise, but I’m glad I finally did. I destroyed the second season that recently aired and I honestly think it might be better than the first. Amazing show.

2.     Sense 8 – I love this idea so much and the second season wasn’t as slow as the first. The ending killed me and then when they canceled it, ugh, I never do TV show petitions but I signed them all. I canceled Netflix for the first time in years. I was furious. I’m hoping that the movie will be able to wrap things up but I seriously don’t see how that’s possible. I’ll probably never keep Netflix running continuously because of how they did this show.

3.     The Good Place – I had no desire to watch this last year, it just didn’t seem that funny to me. I ended up having the end of season one spoiled for me and that changed everything. I was able to binge the first season on Netflix and I’ve watched every episode of the second as it’s aired. So freaking funny.

4.     The Orville – Wow, I had no expectations for this show. I had hopes, but because of Seth MacFarlane I didn’t have many. I was certainly surprised and this has ended up being one of my favorite shows of the year. It’s like getting new episodes of Star Trek, only instead of the Enterprise team we’ve got the D tier crew. The jokes don’t always land and they’re reusing a lot of Star Trek plots, but I don’t care. I’m so glad that this has been picked up for a second season and I’m hoping that they continue to find their footing.

5.     Future Man – Loved this, it was so crude and hilarious and just came out of nowhere. Time travel, video games, the 80s, James Cameron’s AI, a terrible future, so many things that add up to funny. So glad we’re getting a second season.

6.     Legion – This is not my usual type of show. It’s wild and out there and very trippy. The only reason I watched it was because I needed something to keep me up during late night feedings and I ended up staying up just to finish episodes. Half the time I’m not sure what’s going on, but I honestly didn’t care. They gave just enough answers not to drive me crazy, but still left me needing to know more.

7.     Black-ish – I just discovered Black-ish this year and thank goodness Hulu has all of the episodes. Most episodes are nice, funny episodes, but the episodes that aren’t, the episodes where they “teach” you something are so good. This year there was one about postpartum depression that really resonated with me.

8.     Life in Pieces – I laugh in every single episode of this show. Love it.

9.     The Librarians – The third season was probably the weakest so far and I’m not overly thrilled with all that’s going on in the fourth season but I seriously can’t think of anything that would have me stop watching this.

 

Games

1.      Splatoon 2 (Switch) This was hands down my favorite game of the year. In an alternate universe I went pro, built a brand, and lived the life of the rich and famous.

2.     Stardew Valley (Switch) After putting in 160 hours on the PC version you’d think I’d be done with this game, but nope. As soon as it came out on the Switch I bought it and started all over again. Aided by the amazing guide my husband bought me for Christmas 2016 I’ve been chipping away at all the in game achievements.

3.     Lego City Undercover (Switch) I beat this once, then got halfway through beating it again before Splatoon 2 came out. I still plan on going back and working on unlocking everything, though, it’s not a priority because I certainly got my money out of this.

4.     Delicious Emily Home Sweet Home (PC) Really liked the story in this one, young married couple with a little kid get their dream house and fix it up. If I was crazy and didn’t mind construction around toddlers I could totally do this too.

5.     Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4) I’m stretching things a bit including this to my list. I got it for Christmas after trying it out at Red Box and finding it interesting enough to try more. I didn’t start playing it until December 31st and at this point I’m only a couple hours in, however, I love the idea a lot. I love that she’s a real looking woman and she’s kicking ass. So far they haven’t put her in super revealing clothes which is nice too. The world is interesting, however, I wish I didn’t have to use a bow and arrow. If I ever beat it, or put a significant amount of time in I’ll write a review.

2016 Favorites

Movies

Wow, so I did not see many new movies this year. I re-watched a lot of old stuff and caught up on some 2015 stuff. Overall, though, apart from the re-watches of favorites, I didn’t like many movies this year.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens– I liked the new characters a lot, but was disappointed by the story so I’m not sure if I would call it a favorite. It was nice to see a new Star Wars, though.

Deadpool– I didn’t write a blog for this movie, at least I don’t think I did. I went through a period there where sitting in front of a computer screen made me physically ill so there were a few movies and books I missed. Joys of pregnancy. Anyway, I really liked Deadpool and was lucky enough to pick it up Black Friday and re-watch. So I guess that’s a favorite for this year.

The Big Short– Really liked this movie, even though it made me mad. Enough that I read the book, then read more by the author, and then purchased the movie even though it was on Netflix at the time.

Star Wars: Rogue OneThis might be my favorite movie of the year, I need to watch it a few more times to decide exactly how much I loved it though.

Books

Book wise I also did a lot of re-reading but I was lucky enough to read several books I loved that were new to me.

Lois Lane: Double Down– This series has become such a surprise favorite of mine. Once again I gave this book as a Christmas present and I’m excited for the next to come out. I rarely find a YA book that isn’t filled with whinny emotional stupid teens and this really fills that void for me.

Carry On– Rainbow Rowell is now a must buy author for me. I’ve loved every book she’s written even though none of them are in a series or like the books I normally read. Her characters are awesome and this book was just perfect.

Stars of Fortune– I was really surprised by this Nora Roberts book. It was like reading an old favorite of hers but for the first time with no knowledge of what was going to happen.

Fire Touched Magic Binds & One Fell Sweep– It wouldn’t be a list of mine without Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews on it. I’m so happy with the speed that Ilona Andrews is able to write at and wish that Patricia Briggs would pick up the pace. I read One Fell Sweep as it was posted on their blog and don’t have a review written, however I did buy the book and plan on re-reading it so I’ll post a review then.

The Last Dragonslayer– Loved finding this Jasper Ffrode series, wish it didn’t seem to end with a cliffhanger, but the first book is awesome.

TV

I didn’t have much patience with TV the second half of the year. These things happen when your hormones are in overdrive though. There were still a few shows that I really enjoyed.

Agent Carter– It still makes me sad that this was canceled. Peggy Carter is such an awesome character and a wonderful role model for women/girls everywhere.

Fuller House– Sometimes you need a junk food show. Something that is fun and doesn’t make you think at all. First episode of the first season was bad, but they eventually found their feet and the second season was really good.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones– Jessica Jones is not a character to look up to, but I thought the show was great. She’d been through a lot and still kept fighting. Hope things get better for her, but if Daredevil is any indication of what happens with a second Marvel season on Netflix probably not.

Marvel’s Luke Cage– This is my favorite Marvel show on Netflix. It was so good. Loved pretty much everything about it.

The Librarians– I wish there were more shows like this out there. It’s like Eureka and Warehouse 13, it’s fun and light and I know that things are going to work out. I really just love it and I’m so glad that it keeps getting renewed, I dread the day it doesn’t.

Dark Matter– This was such an awesome find for me. I miss SciFi that isn’t about the world ending or after the world has basically ended or just a constant sink hole of depression. Dark Matter isn’t light by any means, but it doesn’t fill me with a sense of dread.

Video Games

Stardew Valley– I spent so many hours playing this it’s kind of crazy. I love Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games and this was a perfect version of both with a little bit of Animal Crossing thrown in. It’s like this game was made for me and I loved it. It just came out on PS4 and XB1 in case anyone doesn’t want to purchase it on Steam. There’s also a freakin adorable guide available.