March Reviews

I know we’re nearly half way through April. I’ve been busy…

Films and TV etc.

The excellent

The Crimson Rivers*****

Really good French cop series that keeps suggesting supernatural explanations but always ends up with human criminals. Interesting cops.

Paddington*****

OK, late to the party – we didn’t think grandson would like it because of the death of the uncle near the beginning, so I never saw it… Lovely!

Shetland*****

Good cop series set on Shetland. I liked the cop team, the landscape and the plot.

Line of Duty Season 4*****

Cop series centred round an anti-corruption team. Gripping! So now we need to binge watch 1 – 3 before embarking on 5.

Early Man*****

I always like the animated clay productions. The humour was great and so were all the references to modern problems in this look at early man.

The good.

A Very British History ****

Excellent series looking at the history of various immigrants to UK (Gipsies/Black Brummies/Leeds Jews/Ugandan Asians).. Whilst it was good that each episode was told by someone who was part of the community, I would have liked something tying the programmes together.

Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil****

The lead-up to the current Brexit problems. Well done but I would have liked more ‘before and after’ context, however brief.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Heroines**** (see separate WordPress post)

Interesting lecture which included a look at the recently refurbished home of Elizabeth Gaskell in Manchester.

The Yorkshire Ripper Files****

The programmes had a focus on the victims and their families. It was interesting to see how and why it took so long to catch Peter Sutcliffe, and to see how police and media attitudes to women have had to change.

The poor.

Be Mine **

Very slight shortish film. It was mm romance so I thought I’d watch to see what the cinema did with it. Not a lot… Also, it was hard to work out what was flashback and which character was which.

And the ones where I gave up.

Baptiste: abandoned

Retired cop starts trying to find a missing woman and ends up involved in international crime. I missed an episode and found I couldn’t be bothered to catch up. I wasn’t keen on either the main character or the plot and found it hard to suspend disbelief.

The Bay: abandoned

I got annoyed with the policewoman from the start, and with her inability to organise her family, let alone her work.

Mums Make Porn: abandoned

In theory they were making a porn film that respected women, but in the process of doing so they interviewed and watched professional porn stars doing just that so I couldn’t see the point.

The Yorkshire Vet: abandoned

I loved this programme for the location (I used to live near there) as well as the animals, but the ops were so gory I gave up.

Shadowlands (not the CS Lewis story): abandoned

It was billed as three short stories about people seeking love. The first was a narcissist and the scenes were thoroughly nasty. I didn’t watch for long.

 

Books

The excellent

Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford*****

I adored this cop story set in a fae San Francisco. I kept thinking I’d read it before but then realised it was an extended version of a story that appeared in the Charmed and Dangerous anthology, which I’d loved when I read it. This book is well worth the re-read at the beginning.

Rising Tide by Susan Roebuck *****

As usual, Susan Roebuck makes us feel as if we have been transported to Portugal. The hero and heroine, both part Portuguese, are brought together in a fishing village at risk from the manipulations of corrupt businessmen.

Set in Stone by Elin Gregory*****

A gripping and delightful short story with a supernatural twist. I shall file it with my Halloween stories and re-read it!

Spies, Planes and Automobiles by Elin Gregory and Charlie Cochrane*****

A nice short mystery where one of the heroes of Eleventh Hour meets the Cambridge Fellows.

State of Hate produced by Hope Not Hate*****

This year’s look at the state of the far right and their activities. Worth reading and worth keeping for reference.

Bitter Legacy and Object of Desire by Dal McClean*****

I couldn’t put these down! Exciting stories featuring a gay cop and two of his cases, set against his search for a lover. Each novel stands alone, but I think the way they’re interlinked adds to the pleasure. Excellent writing.

Rapid Response by DJ Jamison*****

Another book in the Hearts and Health series. This time it’s a firefighter and a paramedic who get together. The main pleasure of the series lies in getting to know the entire community, the hospital, etc. The story explores mild BDSM, being in the closet and being bi/pansexual.

Hidden Treasures and Late Fees by Marshall Thornton ***** (Pinx Video Mysteries 2 & 3)

Noah is a fascinating hero, since he is gay but HIV positive and still angst-ridden about his past. This is unusual since it gives us a story about gay characters without any sex, and as a result gives insight into gay Los Angeles. The city is described in detail and for the first time (and I’ve read quite a lot of books set there) I felt I might be getting to know it. The first of these sequels is concerned with aging cinema stars and their costumes, and the second has Noah’s mother come to stay and inadvertently involve him in a murder mystery.

Invitation to the Dance by Tamara Allen*****

A newspaper reporter and his copy editor are encouraged to go undercover to get information, by their editor. As well as the wanted social gossip they uncover criminal activities. Tamara Allen deftly brings the pre-WWII world of America to life

The good

Justice in the Sarladais by Stephen Reinhardt 1770-1790****

Interesting detailed look at social and criminal issues in the area around Sarlat just before the French Revolution. At times the book read like an expanded Ph.D thesis (which it might well have been) but it was an illuminating look at the social change in a rural area during the years leading to the revolution, and at the beginnings of the modern French judicial system.

Lord of the White Hell vols 1 and 2 by Gill Hale****

Some good world building and I liked the culture clash described as Kiram tries to adapt to Javier’s different country. However, towards the end I got slightly tired of the antics of the demon and was simply glad the heroes got together and seemed set fair for an interesting life together. I gather the next book deals with Elizar, who was not one of my favourite characters so I won’t bother reading it, especially because Hale’s books are very expensive, compared with other Kindle volumes.

The Broken Circle by Enjeela Ahmadi Miller****

An autobiographical account of how the author and her family escaped Afghanistan when the Russians arrived. The details were interesting and I was anxious for the family to survive and come together again. However, I could have done with slightly more context and perhaps more pointers towards the Taliban future. Maybe the author didn’t have these herself.

The Dodo, the Auk and the Oryx by Robert Silverberg ****

A friend recommended this and I was glad I bought it. It is out of print (it was originally published in the ‘70s) and in a sense it needs a new edition with some up to date statistics. It was a great introduction to extinction by both natural causes and human intervention, and would be a good starting point for further research. I bought it with my grandson in mind but although I will lend it to him, I shall keep it for myself. It’s a Puffin book but I think would be too hard for most children, as it assumes quite a lot of knowledge. I imagine the author and the publishers wanted to influence young minds. Silverberg is known to me as a sci-fi writer but I had never read any of his science writing.

The mediocre

Prism Cloud by Jeff Wheeler (book 4 of the Harbinger series) ***

I have got tired of Cettie and Sera and their inability to affect either their own empire or the other kingdom in this steampunk series. Both heroines started out interesting and determined but they now seem to be at the mercy of other people’s activities and agendas. The events that were, I think, meant to be startling were in fact quite predictable and the book was somehow flat. I don’t think I’ll bother buying the sequel.

The poor.

Spoonful of Flavour Leafy Greens e-book **

There were some nice recipes but I felt cheated. The book was meant to be a freebie for signing up to the author’s newsletter. It isn’t really an e-book, because frequently it catapults the reader back into the blog with navigational difficulties and a complete inability to copy/paste good recipes. All it has really done is make me unsubscribe…

Dominus by P Kenwood:  abandoned.

This came highly recommended but I didn’t get far. There was a great deal of ‘bad’ language which might well be realistic but throws me out of a story, there was some odd choice of vocabulary, there were startling point of view switches, and I simply found the general style unreadable.

Buttermilk Ranch by Patricia Logan: abandoned

The writing was very repetitive with occasional lapses into info dump. Again, I didn’t get far.

Fanfiction

(I only review the excellent, which I recommend, and mostly only fics that are accessible to readers who are not in the particular fandom.)

The Man with the Clockwork Heart by danceswithgary***** https://archiveofourown.org/works/16644200 6967 words

The story was written in response to art, in what’s known as a reverse big bang and both pay homage to Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart, an anime film, The fandom is SGA but this is so AU only the names really give the origins away. John is the one with physical problems and Rodney is the scientist who can put things right.

From the Pen of Inky Quill by okapi ***** https://archiveofourown.org/works/6848800/chapters/15633211 40,821 words (so far)

This is an excellent series of anthropomorphic crack!fic, poetry and ficlets set loosely in the Sherlock universe. It is added to from time to time and occasionally appears in my inbox to my delight.

 Tits v. Porny by jeeno2 *****  https://archiveofourown.org/works/18115103#main 5289 words plus the lawsuit that inspired it  https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/9757a1_8b7166541a084d5ebe957b896cdc8132.pdf

A fascinating look at copyright, publishing, porn, lawsuits, etc. with a very mild m/f love story holding everything together. It’s worth ploughing through the very real lawsuit as background; it’s relevant to writers everywhere.This story is set in the Starwars fandom but like the SGA one is so AU only the names are the same. As the summary says: Ben Solo and Rey Johnson are attorneys, working together to defend their client against claims of plagiarism and copyright violation brought by a published author of original A/B/O fiction.

A Sheppard’s Christmas Carol by Brumeier***** https://archiveofourown.org/works/17087363  7641 words.

Fresh and interesting retelling of A Christmas Carol with John (SGA) visited by the spirits. The author was very inventive with the spirits she used. Worth keeping and re-reading, probably at Christmas. Perhaps not quite as accessible to people who don’t know SGA but lovers of the Dickens story should find the treatment interesting.

 

 

5 thoughts on “March Reviews

    • It’s always such fun when the worlds of different authors collide. I suppose it feels a bit like fanfic and I love the further exploration of not one but two concepts. I’m glad you had fun writing it! I’ve co-written fanfic and I don’t think it matters if your writing processes are very different – you bring different strengths to the production.

  1. Ours was a mediaeval AU for The Professionals. It was fun! I liked Torchwood – Hornblower and other Age of Sail stories, not so much. But I bet a crossover worked well.

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