I’m sure April this year was even shorter than usual. (*glares at April*). And here we are, already a week into May.
TV and Film
Line of Duty seasons 1, 2, and 3 *****
After watching Season 4 last month we binge-watched these prior to watching Season 5. Well worth the effort! I absolutely love the concept and the characters and particularly the long interview/interrogation scenes which are totally gripping.
A United Kingdom *****
The story of Seretse Khama of what is now Botswanaland and his marriage to an English woman. They found prejudice in both their countries and a great deal of British political manipulation too, but overcame it to provide themselves and what was then Bechuanaland with a hopeful and positive future. Interesting and romantic.
Sergeant Pepper’s Musical Revolution*****
Howard Goodall explored the album and the work of the Beatles in a fascinating in-depth look at the band and their music. No longer available on catch-up but if it returns, watch it!
Classic Albums, Paul Simon: Graceland****
This looked at Simon’s collaboration with South African musicians and had some interesting footage but was not as exciting, for me, as the Goodall programme about the Beatles.
Natural World: Tasmania****
I enjoyed seeing the landscape and fauna of Tasmania, not a country we often get to see on television. As with most Natural World programmes, however, I found myself just enjoying the ‘eye candy’ and almost falling asleep.
Legend of Zorro **
I didn’t deliberately watch this but was not about to be driven out of the lounge. I wasn’t impressed. I gather from family comments that it wasn’t as good as the more famous prequel.
I got irritated with this Dutch/Belgian/British police show. I found the plot unlikely and the main character never really came alive for me, possibly because I hadn’t watched the earlier show, ‘The Missing’. I gather this was a spin-off.
The Bay: abandoned
Another series with an unlikely plot and some unlikely police officers with dysfunctional families.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic published by British Library and Bloomsbury*****
This is the book of the British Library exhibition which I was unable to visit. The book is beautifully illustrated and I loved the way it tied a lot of scholarly research to J.K. Rowling’s work. There were some wonderful photographs of antiquities from various museums, and some delightful art by Jim Kay and by J.K Rowling herself. Unless, like me, you write fantasy and want a magical reference book, I would recommend ordering this from your local library. It’s worth looking at the pictures in all their glory in the expensive hardback edition. The articles are by a variety of writers, and are introduced by specialists in each aspect of the history of magic.
A Merciful Death, A Merciful Truth and A Merciful Secret by Kendra Elliot*****
This series consists of police procedurals set in a rural town that was Mercy’s birthplace. She is now an FBI officer helping to investigate deaths that have possible links to terrorism, and there is the added interest of a very slow moving romance between her and the local Chief of Police. The books gain an extra dimension from the detailed explanations about ‘preppers’, the people (like Mercy’s fictitious family) who prepare for The End Of The World As We Know It. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and bought the next two. The series continues and I might buy more but not just yet. Recommended.
Midnight Flit by Elin Gregory*****
This is a sequel to Eleventh Hour and follows the later adventures of Miles and Briers in the 1930s. This time, there are threats to Miles’ parents and the duo have to protect them and themselves from mayhem and potential murder. The characters are well drawn and the period is wonderfully evoked. Highly recommended but you probably need to read the books in order.
Old Sins by Charlie Cochrane*****
This is a continuation of the series about Robin, a detective, and his partner Adam, a teacher. As well as being a gripping detective story it has a romance element (they are planning their wedding but finding it hard to decide on various factors) and a lot of well developed minor characters. Perhaps the main attraction is their dog, Campbell, a Newfoundland who enriches both their lives and their investigations. Again, highly recommended but start with the first book in the series!
Chaucer by Peter Ackroyd ****
I enjoyed this biography of the poet, which also contained a lot of detail about mediaeval London. I knocked off a star, not because of any criticism of the writing but because I had the paperback edition and found it irritating to be frequently referred to the coloured illustrations which I gather are only to be found in the hardback. I think a good editor should have dealt with this issue. There were black and white illustrations but these lost a lot of the detail I’m sure would be in the coloured ones.
Red Fish, Dead Fish by Amy Lane****
This is volume two in the Fish out of Water series and I found the continuing story of Ellery and Jackson trying to uncover high level corruption gripping and interesting. I have bought the third volume. However, I would criticise the structure of the book though this might be due to editing rather than the author. At the end, there are what are called Accompanying Stories. These, we are told, took place between volumes one and two, and are referenced in the main text. I think they could easily have been edited into the main story but if that was not the author’s wish, and if the publishers wanted to have them at the end I think at the very least this could have been highlighted at the beginning. The contents of the extra stories expanded and clarified parts of the main tale, and I found it annoying to be presented with them as what amounted to flashbacks after the volume was over. I have the third volume and am looking forward to it, and am very glad I read the extras.
The acceptable or even quite good.
Skythane by J Scott Coatsworth***
Absolutely no criticism of the writing but this was too much of a fantasy/sci fi mix for me. I prefer stories to be one or the other, and this straddled the two genres. There were winged people, a doorway between worlds, both those worlds in danger, and some worrying chases and villains. The characters were interesting, especially the young boy who ends up saving everyone. There is mm romance but it doesn’t overwhelm the plot and I never felt particularly keen to know whether the protagonists would end up together or not. There is some good world building but it didn’t seem to be able to decide whether the worlds were magical or science-based. I’m sure this doesn’t spoil the story, but it did mean it wasn’t quite for me. I’m not absolutely sure why. In some ways the concept (the joined worlds) echoes both the Harbinger series, which I’ve abandoned, and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor, which I adored. I suspect I have to empathise deeply with the main character or characters before accepting the rest of the cross-world trope.
Rune Witch Mysteries (complete series) by Victoria DeLuis***
Urban magic set in South Wales. The concept intrigued me and I liked the characters and location. By the end of the series (four books) these had become almost overwhelmed with generic magic, demons, etc. and I felt less empathy with Summer and Thomas than at the beginning. I actually think the author should probably have given Summer and her non-magical boyfriend more cases to solve before setting them out to tackle the disappearance of Summer’s father and the family problems of fae royalty. Some good writing, and the stories are very readable.
My Partner the Wolf by Hollis Shiloh***
I like werewolves and this one, a cop who can trace victims in his wolf form, is no exception. But I would have liked more cop work and less about the relationship between Sean and Tom. A certain amount was essential, to get Tom estranged from his ex and established with Sean, but more police procedural from a wolf’s viewpoint would have made this a stronger story.
Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman***
Quite a sweet ff romance between a young woman who dyes knitting yarn and an artist who inspires her. It’s fairly short and has pleasant enough characters, Clara and Danielle, but the story, despite some angst-ridden moments, is slightly thin.
And the dire
Wranglers (Rodeo Boys 1) by Gavin E Black: no stars
This was very short so I did finish it, hoping to find a plot. I failed. It was in fact just a series of mm sex scenes and I certainly wouldn’t read any sequels.
Dangerous to know: The Chronicles of Breed: Book 1 by K T Davies: abandoned
I didn’t feel any empathy for the main character, a rather vaguely drawn half-alien rogue, which after a couple of chapters made me abandon the book.
All the Important Words Unspoken by blamebrampton. *****
https://archiveofourown.org/works/5494034 73,456 words
This is a Harry Potter AU mm/mf/gen/auror casefic. I suppose that needs some clarification. If all the events of the HP books had taken place in Victorian times… Then if Harry as chief auror and Hermione as his ‘boss’ decided to recruit Draco with his knowledge of herbs and potions… And if Narcissa, desperate to marry Draco off, had chosen Astoria, who actually preferred Charlie Weasley… Then throw in smuggling of magical creatures and some delightful vignettes of real life muggle politicians. There is romantic subtext but it never goes further than a chaste kiss. Altogether delightful and highly recommended.
The other fanfic I read this month was probably impenetrable unless you were immersed in the canon stories of The Hobbit or Stargate Atlantis though I have to say And Maybe a Little Bit Wiser by Goddess47 puzzled me. There was no apparent connection with the SGA canon characters other than the names. The author admitted the story had initially been original then she decided to edit it to suit SGA which she’d had in mind all along. She didn’t do a very good job of it. I loved Small_Hobbit’s A Hobbit Bingo, a series of drabbles and ficlets with a short AU detective story featuring Thorin in the 1930s. However, I decided a detailed knowledge of canon was needed, not to enjoy it, but to appreciate it properly.