Reading and watching. January 2012

I thought I would post a monthly account of what I have been reading and watching. The date beside each book or film/series refers to the date of finishing a book or watching the last episode of a series. So Culpeper only just squeaked in. P refers to printed versions and E to e-books. I have not included fanfiction, despite reading a lot of it, and I have also left out most of the books I bought for/read with my grandson though Lost Worlds has made it onto the list. Magazines and e-zines have also been omitted. I have included unfinished books – which are rare in this household. I give a very brief comment on everything but if you have read/watched them and would like to discuss them, or if you would like further information, I would be delighted!


Jan1. P Culpeper’s Complete Herbal – Nicholas Culpeper. Fascinating insights into old medical

practices and a good resource for both plant information and names for fantasy writing.

Jan3. P Simply Sushi – Steven Pallett – Instant Masterclass. Interesting but overwhelming. I think

I’ll stick with Tesco’s ready-made variety.

Jan6. P Supertips 2 – Moyra Bremna. This was a re-read, found when I was packing books. It has

some timeless/great tips on all kinds of cleaning, gardening, cooking matters, etc. but also

some dated/hilarious ones. The sections on caring for your record collection/record

player are fascinatingly out of date!

Jan6. E Whiskey Sour – J A Konrath. A competent and gripping, somewhat gruesome thriller, on

the same lines as Karen Rose. I bought it because I’m following his blog about self-

publishing and was curious but will definitely read more by him and have already bought

two. I’ll talk about the blog in another post.

Jan10. P Mystery – Jonathan Kellerman. Yes, that’s the title though it’s also the genre. Mystery is

the latest in the Alex Delaware series and is as competent as usual. A kind of comfort

reading with exciting bits.

Jan12, E Men under the Mistletoe. Four fabulous m/m novellas brought out as a Christmas

anthology and on a Christmas theme. I bought it for the stories by Josh Lanyon and Harper

Fox, whose work I already know. Ava March and K.A. Mitchell were new to me but are

equally admirable writers.

Jan15. P Manchester Poets – an anthology including a friend’s work. I went to the book launch.

and my copy is signed. A mixed bag, as poetry anthologies so often are, but there’s

something there to appeal to everyone.

Jan19. P Personal Connections in the Digital Age – Nancy K Baym. This was a great summary of

the issues surrounding digital communication, both online and via mobile phones. The

had some interesting research results and some sensible arguments to make. As I’d put in a request to

‘Santa’ who kindly brought it, I had to read it a.s.a.p.

Jan20. P Books do furnish a room – Leslie Geddes-Brown. This is a visually fascinating ‘coffee

table’ book with gorgeous photographs and some good ideas about book storage. Some

weird ones, too.

Jan24. P Madness of Angels – Kat Griffin. This is a surrealist fantasy about London and magic, lent

to me by the same friend who let me borrow the Books book. With this one, I gave up at

p35. Overdone descriptions and no ‘hook’ or suggestion of where the plot might be going.

Jan28. P Lost Worlds _ Jon Howe. Howe illustrated much of Tolkien’s work. This is a great simple

reference book with beautiful pictures of ‘forgotten’ civilisations, some mythical and others

real enough but swept away by history or nature. I bought the book to put away for my

grandson but I suspect it will remain in my house so that I can share it with him.

Jan29. E The Best Christmas Ever – Anel Viz. A delightful and thought provoking m/m story about

an ‘unequal’ relationship between an intellectual and his mildly retarded lover. I shall be

reviewing it for Wilde Oats.


I note that this month’s reading is short on fantasy though Harper Fox’s story Midwinter Knights in the anthology contains supernatural elements.


Films: DVDs or TV series (usually watched on DVD or iPlayer). Some of the DVDs are rented.

Jan2. Spiral Season 1. (8 eps) A French cop/law show. We had already seen season 3 and bought

seasons 1 and 2 because we liked them so much. Season 1 is gripping and sets up a lot of

scenarios/relationships for the following seasons. The photography, all in Paris, is great, and

the acting is superb.

Jan3. Legend of the Guardians. A confused fantasy, unsure whether to be a cartoon or a serious CGI

adventure. Australian owls battle against the forces of darkness!!! Fun, but I won’t buy it.

Jan7. La vie en rose. Biopic of Edith Piaf. The story was told in a confusing way with too many

flashbacks, and the dark sets didn’t help. There were no complete songs other than ‘Je ne

regrette rien’ at the end. The story was interesting and sad but the film was disappointing.

Jan17. Public Enemies.(BBC. 3 eps) A well-acted drama with an interesting plot exploring the

problems faced by people wrongly accused/convicted. I was surprised by the happy or at least

hopeful ending.

Jan23. The Libertine (Johnny Depp). Amazing acting. Pity about the plot. The story deals with the

decline and fall of the Earl of Rochester in Restoration England. Depp’s portrayal of the earl,

from beautiful courtier to disease-ridden misery, was a masterpiece, though I have to admit I

would watch Depp in almost anything. The story is very thin and hardly worth a full length


Jan24. Sherlock (BBC) Season 2. (3 eps) The second and third episodes were terrifying to watch, for

me. I find knife-edge scenes in films and on TV unpleasant, even though I will read them

happily in books. These were alarming and although I am familiar with Holmes canon, the

BBC version tweaks the stories for the twenty-first century and the viewer does not know

what to expect. I will no doubt watch season 3 next year and be scared all over again.

Jan29. Birdsong (BBC) (2 eps). Visually stunning, filmed around Budapest rather than in northern

France where the story is set. Mediocre acting and some odd ‘takes’ on WW1. I disliked the

book (by Sebastian Faulks)and disliked this.

Jan31. Bent. A Channel 4 film originally made for TV, based on Martin Sherman’s play about

homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. Incredibly well acted and directed; powerful and

moving. I cried. Highly recommended but I wouldn’t put myself through it again. However,  I now

want a copy of Mick Jagger singing Streets of Berlin and it isn’t available.


So, 12 books and 8 films/series in January. I shall be interested to see what I manage in February. And as I said, I’d love to hear your comments on any of these.

6 thoughts on “Reading and watching. January 2012

  1. The Culpeper has become a standard reference in my house. Much of what he recommends has been confirmed by modern methods, and I love the illustrations in my edition, which is about forty years old!

    • Mine’s a 1985 edition. I got it in a charity shop and it has gone instantly into the ‘treasured books’ category. The illustration are superb and so is a great deal of the advice! I just wish he had described everything instead of assuming some plants were so common as not to need description. We have cleared so many hedgerows and meadows and now some of those common plants are rare. I love the little flashes of humour and the warnings.

  2. “Books do furnish a room”.
    And muffle it from noise! *g*

    Looking at this post, I’d love to have as much time for reading as before… *sigh*

    So far, “Legend of the Guardians” is the only movie where 3D is a visible merit, for me. That is, between 3D movies I’ve seen, and I admit there wasn’t much of them, maybe four or five. For the most of movies, in this count PotC: On Stranger Tides or The Lion King, 3D is as necessary as the fifth leg for a dog, in my opinion. *cough*Being a very watery-eyed and sore-from-glass-weight opinion.*cough* But at least LotG is one of the prettiest things I’ve seen in cinema. Not one of the best, however… Far from brilliancy in the script department, but nice for an eye, this sums up my opinion.

    • Books are excellent for insulating against noise and cold!

      I have extra time now that I have retired from full time work but I have always read a lot. I read very fast – not skimming but reaching the end before most people would. Then if the book is really good I will read it again. I don’t think I have increased my reading with the extra time I have; I’ve increased my writing instead!

      Yes, LotG was extremely pretty and I ‘wanted’ an owl. But it was just a visual feast. The story was a muddle and the script made me laugh. I wasn’t altogether sure if perhaps I was meant to be laughing or not. But I rented the film and watched it at home so I didn’t get the benefit of 3D. The only film I have seen in 3D at the cinema is Avatar. I imagine it improved LotG quite a lot!! *g*

      • In the scene where the main character Whatwashisname flies through lashing rain is great in 3D, and the forest in first scenes is wonderful too. But as for the script, well, I think it just has a misfortune to be a classical family movie in the post-Shrek era. When one is 8 years old, I suppose it watches like Narnia. Alas, I was more than 8. 🙂
        I’ve seen Avatar only in 2D, and I’m one of these three person in the world, who were not very impressed by the movie… And I mean, in the visual matter even more than in the script!

      • I enjoyed Avatar for the 3D sensation. I’m not sure I would have cared about the movie in 2D!

        I can imagine some of the owls and scenery being even more beautiful in 3D but yes, you’re right, it’s a film for 8-year-olds!

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