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July in Review

Gang, can you believe we're in August now already? Can you believe it will be 2O18 in 4 months?! I *know*. This year is sailing by at lightning speed and I can't quite keep up with it. Unlike June, July felt like it went by incredibly quickly and I think it was partly due to a busy time at work and wishing it away.

The Personal
July saw developments in the whole house buying procedure and we're creeping ever closer to owning a place and I'm just ecstatic about it. It's still super terrifying because a lot of financial and emotional investment goes into such a big step, but it feels right and I just can't *wait* to have a space where I get to decide every little detail how it looks and functions. Other than house stuff, other grown up stuff this month i.e. my job was quick moving and seemed to go by pretty damn quick this month. It was the end of the academic year for me so it was all hands on deck to get my students through their exams, get ready for the next academic year, and just feel slightly rested before it all starts all over again. I started to also properly plan my trip home to the beautiful north east in August as I want to make the most of it. Living down south is great and all, but I've mentioned before that I miss Newcastle and the surrounding area more and more each time I head back there, so this time I need to make sure I squeeze as much as I can into the few days I'm there so I (hopefully) won't miss it too much before my next visit at Christmas.

For TV in July, I started re-watching Twin Peaks from the very beginning. Obviously back in May, the new series was released and although I'm desperate to watch it all, I wanted to make sure the whole story was fresh in my mind (despite knowing the ins and outs of it like the back of my hand). Although it's my favourite TV show, I never grow tired or bored of it so re-watching it is never a chore. For those of you who might have missed out on the cult classic, it's a now 3 season TV show created and directed by the every eccentric but equally as wonderful, David Lynch, and centres around the town yep, you guessed it - Twin Peaks. There's a murder at the very start of the show and the plot is focused on working out who committed the murder and why. As you may assume, the show also uncovers lots of other side stories as more characters are revealed and involved in the main story line and Kyle MacLachlan playing Special Agent Dale Cooper (the agent sent to the small town to solve the murder) is one of the best characters in anything ever. The show has a great sense of humour in spots, surrealism, suspense, and a damn good soundtrack.

Another show that I should have re-watched before the new season started just to jog my memory was Game of Thrones. I have been *so* looking forward to it coming back onto our screens as it's getting to the juicy parts i.e. the end and I'm completely guessing as to what route the whole show is going to go down. I don't think I need to discuss was Game of Thrones is here, but if you've somehow missed out on it so far in life, all I can say is if dragons, violence, politics, and boobs won't convince you it's a good show I don't know what will.

July seems to have been a bit of a movie month for me and has mostly been a horror film month at that. I think I must be getting into the Halloween mood a little early as the weather has been so abysmal as quite a few scary and gory ones have graced my screen. The first one I want to mention - simply because I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would - is The Hallow. The story centres around a husband and wife who move to tiny hamlet area in the countryside with their new born baby. A neighbour tries to warn them that it's a bad idea but of course - they don't listen. The reason it's a bad idea is because fairies live in the surrounding woodland area and they can be pretty intent on making fellow humans become fairies and they have a knack for stealing new born babies. Now, my description of it sounds like it'll be the worst thing you'll ever watch but honestly - it's great. It's not a jump scare nor a gore type of horror, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat nonetheless. Although you can tell this is your typical low budget UK based film, it's really good with some great acting going on. I'd highly recommend it.

Two other horrors I watched in July were The Green Inferno and Blair Witch. I've watched The Green Inferno before but if you're after mindless gore, shock horrors, then very few do it better than Eli Roth. The Green Inferno is about some American college kids who want to go and protect a rainforest area in Peru that is being deforested by a timber agency. They end up with a community - the same individuals they're trying to protect - and well, they find out their cannibals in the worst possible way. It's not the goriest horror in the world, but it's an okay watch. I also watched Blair Witch which is a 2O16 version of the cult classic The Blair Witch Project. It is filmed in the same sort of camcorder, vlog/documentary style way, but the story is slightly different. From what I can work out, the main character's sister was the main character of the second Blair Witch Project film so that would make this one the third part in the story (although it could be a standalone - it's not really that clear). It's of course a good jump scare film and focuses on the blair witch folklore and tale but develops it further by the group wanting to find a house in the woods which the blair witch is believed to be linked to. Initially, the film kind of seems to be doing the same old thing from the previous Blair Witch movies, but after a freak death in the story, it makes you quickly sit up and pay attention to the rest of the film. I quite enjoyed it but the original is still obviously the best one.

If horror films aren't your thing, maybe a ridiculous adult comedy about a talking bear can tickle your fancy instead. I quite enjoyed the first Ted film but honestly? Ted 2 might actually be even better. Ted 2 focuses still on Ted, the talking bear who swears a lot, smokes a lot of weed, and seems to get a lot of ladies, but the second movie sees him struggling to be recognised as a living being and not just a thing that is owned by a human. It has great humour throughout, the same familiar great characters, and also a pretty steady storyline for a second film!

There's been many fab releases this month when it comes to music but there's a few in particular I need to talk about right now. First up we've got to talk about the queen of my heart - Lana Del Rey - and her album, Lust for Life. Lana can do no wrong in my eyes but I was so excited for this drop as her last album was my least favourite so I had my fingers and toes crossed that Lust for Life would go back to more of her original sound and it totally has. There's some great songs on the album and some even better collaborations (Stevie Nicks anyone?!). The songs have Lana's typical modern twist on 5Os-7os style and I really love the whole album. Another album I was super stoked for was Tyler, The Creator's Flower Boy. Again, this album is true to the artist and very *Tyler*. I think these are my most favourite Tyler tracks to date because I find the lyrics so relatable and the songs are so easy listening and sound so vulnerable that I can have this album on loop and never get bored yet also dip in and out of it. It's just a fantastic album to be perfectly honest.

Boris are one of my favourite bands and their new release, Dear, is another amazing drop from them. I'm gutted to find out that this may be their last album ever being released, but if that is the case, they've ended their releases on a solid album. Dear sounds much more like "old" Boris as it's a much heavier and slower sounding album compared to their previous ones. I need to give it some more dedicated listening time, but if you like those sort of droning, slightly electronic, slightly gloom albums and/or bands, give Boris' catalogue a listen from start to finish and you won't be disappointed. I've also got to quickly mention a song release here that has got me mega excited for September. My ultimate babe, Chelsea Wolfe, is releasing a new album in September and from that long-awaited album, she released the song "Vex" this July as a bit of an extra taster after the last song release earlier this year. Vex is such a perfect song - it's very Chelsea Wolfe as it's gloomy, droning, yet angelic with her gorgeous voice, but I'm most excited as she seems to be sticking with the heaviness she had going on in her last album.

One last music-related mention I need to make here is the fact that Itch from The King Blues is doing a tour in October for his poetry book launch and release and it took me all of 1O minutes to buy some tickets to see his reading and show in Winchester later this year. The King Blues are a band I've always liked, but I've also always loved Itch's lyrics and him just as a person so I'm mega excited to see him perform in a more intimate setting and in a venue that I spent most of my evenings as a university student.

Video Games
Guys guys guys, I played quite a few video games in July and I've got a few I'd certainly recommend. The PS4 is great for including some ace games in their free games each month and I was stoked to see Until Dawn as part of the freebies this month. Until Dawn in a horror game that is like no other in my opinion. The first thing that ever attracted my attention about this game is the graphics - they have shot the whole thing like a horror film, using actual actors (some well recognisable) as the characters which helps the game have a lot more depth as the characters have such realistic facial expressions (not to mention it makes the graphics pretty damn impressive). The game is centred around a group of young people on a short vacation in the mountains at one of the college students' parents holiday home. Unfortunately, something happens to some of the characters right at the start of the game and then the main game follows the rest of the characters a year later when they revisit the same holiday home. I thoroughly enjoyed this game as it really focuses on the butterfly effect and is the first game I've played where my conversation decisions truly felt like they impacted the outcome of the story. The idea is you need to see how many people survive until dawn and it all rests on your decisions. I blitzed through Until Dawn in 2 days and I can't wait to play it again to see the other outcomes. It has plenty of jump scares just like a horror film and I really like the general story as the horror threat is not what it initially seems to be. There's lots of twists and turns that are unpredictable too which keep you on your toes. Although the game has a bit of a slow start, aspects of it like the functionality of the controller and the whole having to actually stay still when you're hiding (I'm being serious) helps to really submerse you into the story.

As if the TV show wasn't enough, I started (and have almost completed) Telltale's Game of Thrones game. The game follows a family that is not usually mentioned in the show and you play multiple characters from that family. It's in typical Telltale Games style and has 6 episodes you play through in which your conversation decisions impact elements of the story and the outcome of each episode. I've quite enjoyed the game and particularly seeing well-known characters - and the actual actors from the TV show voicing them - pop up but all in all the game is just okay - it's nothing to write home about. I've enjoyed some of the other Telltale Games games like The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead a lot more but it's still a good one to try out if you love Game of Thrones! The final game I'll mention is Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. This game has got to be the most chill game I've ever played and therefore I have to recommend it if the whole almost shitting yourself whilst playing Until Dawn isn't your sort of thing. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture reminds me of those old PC games that require you to click on things, listen, and then put the puzzle pieces together to work out the story. As the name states, you play someone who is wandering around a cute little British countryside village and it appears everyone has went to the rapture except you. There's a reason behind it and you need to find out what happened. It's a bit of a slow burner of a game due to not being able to run on the game (it takes *so* long to get around man), but it's a pretty game to play, interesting, and it has some of the best trophies if you're someone like me who needs to explore every nook and cranny and collect everything.

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