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Dynamite Review Best of 2018

Each year I try to make a list of all my favorites for the year. Most years I don’t see or read or play much that came out in the actual year, but for once I was able to make lists of stuff that exclusively came out in 2018.

Black Panther

Movies
I feel like I should place a warning here before anyone can read my list. It is going to be heavy on the Superhero films. I watched Hidden Figures and Girls Trip for the first time in 2018 and loved them, but because they didn’t come out in 2018 I decided not to include them. So I apologize for the following boring list of movies.
1. Black Panther
Holy shit I still love this movie. I watched it recently, wondering if it would hold up from my original viewing and it did. If anything I like it more than I did the first time around.
2. Deadpool 2
I really need to re-watch this. I was finally able to get ahold of the unrated cut and I haven’t yet watched it. Still, the first viewing was incredibly memorable and I’m looking forward to seeing what was added. Also, they fucking made a PG-13 version with a tie in to my favorite movie, The Princess Bride!
3. BlacKkKlansman
This movie stands out like a sore thumb on my list, but I can’t help it. It was a great movie and hit me right in the soul.
4. Ant-Man and the Wasp
I loved the Wasp, she was such a badass.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
I’m still not sure about this movie. It was great, hit all the right notes, and got me super excited for the 2019 Marvel movies, but my final opinion of it is not going to be settled until those come out.

Honorable Mentions
Incredible 2
Oceans 8
The Hurricane Heist

Magic Triumphs

Books
The wonderful Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is not on the list since it didn’t come out in 20118, but it is definitely one I loved reading. Sadly, this will also be the first time I’m not including a Patricia Briggs book on my list, Burn Bright just did not cut it for me. I debated whether or not I should add Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews to my list since it’s a novella, but ultimately decided I liked having a nice round number for my total.
Like my movie list, my book list is kind of heavy on one side, namely Ilona Andrews’s book. Often in the past I’ve just listed them as one entry, but I did not read much this year, and my list would be bare without them.
So without further ado, my best of 2018 books!
1. Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) By: Ilona Andrews
This was THE climactic conclusion of possibly my favorite series. It was well worth the wait.
2. A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) By: Alyssa Cole
This was my favorite find of the year. I freaking LOVED this book and I’m so excited for the books to come.
3. Ocean Light (Psy-Changling Trinity #2) By: Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh is such a great author and I was so happy to finally have a human love interest in this series. It was all so sweet.
4. Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacies #3.5) By: Ilona Andrews
This may have been a novella but it packed a lot into the limited pages. I’m beyond exited for the books coming up and looking forward to seeing more of Catalina.
5. Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant #1) By: Ilona Andrews
Before I read this I was not excited that Hugh was getting his own series, but I have now been converted. I never should have doubted Ilona Andrews.

murphy-brown-season-11-cast-photo

TV Shows
I watch a LOT of TV. I also, rarely write reviews for what I watch. I try to do season recaps after I binge, and I succeed at that about fifty percent of the time. I do better reviewing pilot episodes.
Like everything else, I’m going to limit myself to seasons that aired in 2018, which means that one of my favorites, Dramaworld, won’t be on the list. I’ll also try and include shows that I wrote reviews for, but sadly I haven’t gotten around to writing a review for The Good Place and I have to include it on my list.
So here we go!
1. Murphy Brown
You have no idea how much I love this series. I honestly had no idea how much I loved it until it came back and I actually set my little rabbit ears up and watched it live. I know the likelihood that I’ll actually get another season is slim to none, but I can’t stop myself from hoping for more.
2. The Good Place
Holy shit this show does not fail to deliver. Every episode I have no idea what the fuck is going to happen and it does not disappoint. It’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched.
3. Westworld
Just when I think I’ve got a handle on what’s going on I’m thrown for a loop. Then they have an episode that shows an entirely new side of the hosts and I learn even more. It’s an interesting and beautiful show.
4. Jane the Virgin
Apparently, I love twists. That’s what my list is teaching me this year. Jane the Virgin gave me the biggest twist of the year with the season finale and I’m still on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next.
5. 12 Monkeys
The final season wrapped up a complicated story very well. It gave me closure and had me guessing right up until the very end. It was a fitting conclusion to a great time travel sci-fi TV show.

Honorable Mentions

Timeless

Doctor Who
Anne with an E
Sense 8

20180924183849_1
Games
I love playing games, but it is one of my hobbies that ends up getting pushed aside for other things, so I don’t play as much as I would like. I also, don’t review many games, but here’s a list of my 2018 favorites.
1. No Man’s Sky: Next (PC)
I’ve enjoyed No Man’s Sky since the beginning, but the Next expansion brought me back to the game. The added content was amazing, and was quickly followed by more expansive updates. I spent well over 100 hours playing it this year and had so much fun doing it.
2. Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch)
Smash Bros Ultimate just came out and I haven’t had much time to play it. I’ve definitely not beaten the “story mode” yet, but I’m having a blast. I haven’t liked a Smash game since the original on N64 and I’m so excited to finally be enjoying the franchise again. There is so much content that it’s going to take some time before I’m able to finish it, if I’m able too.
3. Splatoon 2: Octoling Expansion (Switch)
It honestly feels like this came out forever ago. I downloaded it day one and somehow ended up beating it. The Octoling Expansion felt like the story we should have gotten with Splatoon 2 originally. It was fun and creative, several times infuriating, and just an all-around pleasure to play.
4. Civilization VI (Switch)
I love the Civilization franchise. I’ve been asking for it to come back to consoles ever since I moved away from playing on the XBOX 360 and I finally got my wish this year. I’ve only had it for about a month, but I’ve already spent over 60 hours playing. It’s so easy to say just one more turn and since I can play in bed, instead of at the PC, I’m playing it more than ever. It doesn’t have as much as the PC version, but so far I’ve been incredible happy with all that’s been included and with how it runs. I tend toward the Standard map, so I’m not sure how well it goes on larger maps, though.
5. Overcooked 2 (Switch)
My husband and I beat the original Overcooked together and for Christmas we started the sequel. Overcooked 2 is everything that I love about the first, but with polish. It looks nicer, the mechanics are better, and it still has all the fun and frustration of the first. It’s been a great game to coop with my husband and we’ve both been enjoying it.

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Overcooked


Overcooked

Publisher:

Team17

Developer:

Ghost Town Games

Platform:

Switch

About:

A cooking simulation game.

Review:

My husband and I played this together on our date nights. It was a test of our relationship and I’m proud to say we handily beat it. There were some tense moments, sliding around on the ice level sent me over the edge several times, but ultimately we prevailed and three starred every level.

We do have the DLC left to beat, but we’re planning on getting to that at Christmas break. For now, I would highly recommend this game for those looking for a timed cooking simulation to play with friends or solo.

Levels are difficult, but also fun. Worlds are short so it’s not going to be a massive time sink for anyone, even if you are three starring everything. The game mechanics are simple to understand and don’t take too long to master. It’s the puzzle of the levels themselves that will really test you.

Excellent fun, and I’m really looking forward to playing the sequel.

4/5

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.

Splatoon 2

My 10 Year Anniversary present from my husband

Splatoon 2

Publisher:

Nintendo

Developer:

Takaya Imamura

Platform:

Switch

About:

Splatoon 2 is a team-based third-person shooter video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. It is the sequel to the 2015 Wii U title Splatoon, and is playable by up to eight players in online four-versus-four matches.

Review:

This has been my most anticipated game in a long while. The original Splatoon was a huge surprise and I ended up loving it. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so competitive while playing something online but I was literally screaming curse words at the TV.

At this point I’ve put in sixty plus hours in Splatoon 2 and I haven’t even ventured into the story mode. I spent the majority of my time playing Turf Wars then I discovered Salmon Run and things got obsessive. Salmon Run is not available at all times, which can be annoying, but I also think I ended up playing more because of it. For a while each time it was available I would login to play and get the two big bonuses. While playing Salmon Run you don’t level up, but you can make a killing money wise.

Turf Wars will always have my heart, though. I’ve really enjoyed the new maps and I wish some of the old maps that are available weren’t. I’m looking at you Moray Towers. The new weapons have been fun to try out, but the aerospray is and will always be my default weapon. It’s weaker than a lot of the other weapons, but it just lays down so much ink. I haven’t unlocked the gold aerospray yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve played Ranked Mode a few times and each time I do horrible. I don’t have the time or patience right now to really dedicate to getting good so I steer clear of it, for now. One day the kids will pretty much take care of themselves, so come Splatoon 4 or 5 I’m going to fuck some shit up!

So far the only part of Splatoon 2 that I dislike is the matchmaking. I would like to be able to team up with friends easier during Splatfests. Why do I need to have four people to do that? During regular Turf Wars you can check your friend list and join whoever is available, which is perfect. It’s also difficult to join friends in Salmon Run, they have to create a room and you join that way. Basically there’s too much planning and communication involved in playing together.

I’ve played docked and handheld, I’ve used joycons and the pro controller, and my preferred combo is docked with the Splatoon pro controller. My husband prefers using the joycons separate because he’s able to use the motion controls to turn. When I’m able to get into the groove I have a blast playing. When I’m not able to, I still have a blast playing, I just feel like a huge burden on my team.

I really love this game, I love the colors, I love the game play, I love everything! The fact that I still have story mode to beat makes me so happy because it means even after so many hours I’m nowhere near done.

4.5/5

Lego City Undercover

Lego City Undercover

Publisher:

Nintendo

Developer:

TT Games

Platform:

Switch, Wii U, PS4, & XBOX One

Plot:

Play as Chase McCain, a police officer who’s been tasked with going undercover to hunt down the notorious – and recently escaped – criminal Rex Fury.

Review:

I played Lego City Undercover years ago on the Wii U, I liked it, but didn’t beat it because I got distracted by something else. When I saw that it was being released on the Switch I was excited to play it again and snatched it up.

At this point I’ve beat the story one and a half times, this is due to me getting my own Switch and no longer using my husbands. There is so much stuff left for me to do that I’m honestly nowhere near one hundred percent but I feel like I’ve definitely gotten my monies worth.

The story is funny and entertaining, the controls are intuitive, and getting to basically play Grand Theft Auto with Lego is pretty awesome. I’ve been able to play in docked and handheld mode and had no problems either way, though I do prefer playing docked.

I’m not the sort of person that notices dropped frame rate or how many frames per second so I can’t speak to any of that, but I have ended up experiencing a few glitches. A couple times I got my character stuck and was unable to get him unstuck so I had to exit without saving and ended up having to restart levels which was frustrating. I also experienced some issues with summoning a helicopter involving the game freezing and me again having to reboot. While it’s disappointing to have those bugs in the game all and all I believe I only had it happen four times and considering I’ve played thirty-five hours plus I’m alright.

I really enjoy Lego games, but this game stands out for me. It’s not an established franchise, Lego City Undercover is its own thing. It creates a fun and interesting world that I’d love to see again. It’s low pressure but you can decide the difficulty, do you want to just complete the story mode and be done? Or do you want to one hundred percent the entire thing? I have no issues playing this around my kids either, which means I can play it more.

Really hope we get another installment in this series, though, I do believe there’s a 3DS game, but what I’d really like is another console release. I should probably look into that 3DS game.

Anyway, would definitely recommend this game to someone who already likes Lego games and is looking for something light and fun.

4/5