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player are fascinatingly out of date!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
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.