Happy New Year (well, it’s still January).
FILMS AND TV
As usual, I watched quite a lot over the holiday period.
First, the five star ones:
Flint Street Nativity***** This is my all-time favourite Christmas viewing. However often I watch it, it never fails to have me crying with laughter. My original copy went up in smoke in Portugal so a close friend bought me a new copy for Christmas.
Spiral (episodes 1 and 2 of season 6) ***** Waiting a whole week for more episodes reminds me of why I have previously waited and bought the DVD.
Secret Life of the Zoo***** – ongoing series on Channel 4 (including Christmas special). I hadn’t thought about it but the fun the keepers have giving the animals ‘presents’ let them observe family interactions.
Rango ***** Lovely animation with the main character voiced by Johnny Depp.
Dame Vera Lynn: Happy 100th Birthday.***** It was great watching her reactions, and also the reactions of viewers who were in the forces in the war and saw her at the time.
Timeshift: Bridging The Gap – How The Severn Bridge Was Built***** Fascinating. At the time the bridge was built I had relatives in that part of South Wales and was very aware of the whole project.
Then the four star, which were worth watching but not quite five star material.
League of Gentlemen**** (BBC – 3 episodes) I loved the original series and this was good too, with a lot of familiar characters. But like any show of its kind it was mixed. Some sections were brilliant and others were mediocre.
Dr Who Christmas Special **** The only thing we watch on Christmas Day (so dinner has to be timed to fit). I liked it, and am looking forward to the new Doctor, but am sad to say goodbye to Peter Capaldi.
Concorde: A Supersonic Story **** Interesting.
The Blue Planet **** (repeated on Yesterday). I enjoyed this but thought a great deal of it was eye candy – superior eye candy but still candy.
Jools Holland Hootenanny**** Well, it was reasonable watching for New Year’s Eve but I thought the offerings were very mixed.
Reindeer Family and Me.**** I was interested because I have Finnish (though not Sami) friends. Enjoyable.
And finally, the ‘also-ran’.
The Dirty Dozen (1967) *** I have probably seen this before and forgotten it. I found it very dated and was not altogether impressed by the acting.
Some excellent five star reading this month.
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett ***** This was a re-read. I have no idea yet whether my Pratchett collection survived the fire (there are boxes in the intact garage) but a friend sent me this to comfort me and I loved it all over again. Pratchett is my comfort reading – incredibly funny and at the same time really serious about the human condition.
Truth Will Out by A.D.Garrett***** A forensic scientist and a police DCI investigate a serial killer. The book was excellent – great plot and superb character development. But then I was thinking there were sequels to come and found out this was in fact book 3. Since there were lots of spoiler-type references to the earlier books I’m not sure I will read them. However, I think I’d recommend the series.
Marriage can be murder by Emma Jameson ***** The plot and the characters were great – the ‘detective’ is a country doctor at the beginning of WW2 and the romance element is delightful. But there are flaws – a lot of Americanisms and cultural errors that show the author is not British. However, I’ll forgive them and will be reading the next in the series.
Bring Me the Dead by Becky Black ***** This is archaeology in space with wonderful world (or rather worlds) building, and lots of UST in the m/m romance which underpins but never overwhelms the plot. I loved it and am looking forward to reading the sequel.
Belle Starr by Belinda McBride *****This one was werewolves in space and I was relieved to find it really well written and exciting. Both themes appeal to me enormously but are not always well developed. Another one where a sequel will be more than welcome.
Then the four star one
Better Off Wed by Laura Durham**** A ‘cosy’ mystery with poisonings investigated by a wedding planner and her friends. It was a fun read, but almost too ‘light’ to be adequately gripping. I might read the rest of the series, but only if they are cheap.
And a mediocre read.
Shit happens so get over it by Summersdale Publishing*** This is a collection of ‘wise’ sayings collected by a publishing house which didn’t even attribute it to an editor. Some of the ‘advice’ was good, or amusing. My nine-year-old grandson thought the title was hilarious.
Finally, two books I would not recommend at all.
Swords against Darkness edited by Robert E.Howard ** I was really disappointed. Whilst swords’n’sorcery is not my ultimate favourite sci fi or fantasy sub genre I usually enjoy it. These stories were by well known authors but were, to my mind, tired and stale. The excitement of the editor perhaps reflected his own lack of reading outside his immediate ‘circle’.
A Woman’s Shed by Gill Heriz (photography by Nicolette Hallett)** As a coffee table book, to dip into, this worked and contained some interesting storage ideas, but the photography, whilst excellent, seemed chosen for effect rather than elucidation of the subject and text, and the premise of the book mystified me. Yes, women, as well as men, have sheds, but bringing together such disparate items as luxury studios and run-down garden storage seemed to be grasping at straws to build a book. As a side note, I couldn’t quite work out why every time the author used the word ‘garden’ she had to add ‘(yard)’ in case her American readers might be puzzled, and almost as often had to add ‘(caravan)’ each time she used ‘trailer’.
I also read a number of short stories from various Advent calendars. Whilst I enjoyed most of them I didn’t actually keep track and nothing really stands out, though I loved some glimpses into the worlds I already knew by favourite authors such as Charlie Cochrane and Elin Gregory.
This was Advent calendar territory, too, and I read a number of bits and pieces including some lovely ficlets by Small_Hobbit whose work I have mentioned previously.
The only long piece I read and enjoyed was:
Code Black by starboydjh ***** which you can find at http://archiveofourown.org/works/12396666 The story is RPF which is ‘real person fiction’ where real actors, musicians, celebrities etc. are inserted into stories as the main characters. The plots of these RPF stories are totally fictional but the reader can imagine the actor/whatever in the role which enables the writer to use both the looks and the public persona of their chosen ‘real person’ to underpin the story. In this one, a couple of YouTube presenters are used as the main characters in a story about a London hospital with a nod to the American show (called Code Black) about an American hospital. There is a mild m/m element to the plot but there is no explicit sex. I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed account of hospital work, and the slow build-up of the romance.