For once I had them ready on 1st, but had too much else to post!
Films and TV
Johnny English Reborn***** Hilarious spoof spy story – provided you like Rowan Atkinson.
War on Plastic**** Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall doing his bit for, or rather, against pollution. Some interesting information emerged, especially on how local authorities deal with waste, and how changes in packaging affect supermarket prices. I ended up feeling the ordinary person couldn’t do much, if they were already aware of pollution, recycling, etc. And if they weren’t, I doubt if they’d watch the three programmes.
Years and Years*** Russell T Davies looks at the near future. Well produced and acted, but I found it very depressing as it just confirmed all my fears about the way the world (and UK in particular) is going. Also, whilst it was interesting to have the drama focus on a single extended family, it was rather surprising and unlikely to find one with so many pertinent ‘problems’.
Montalbano*** I used to love this series but I was disappointed. There wasn’t nearly enough Sicilian countryside, and the detectives seemed determined to sit in their office waiting for witnesses to come and report to them. I watched the first two part story then gave up.
My Gay Dog and Other Animals*** I agreed with one reviewer of this who said that even though it was animals the watcher could end up feeling like a voyeur. And although there was some discussion of the reasons for the observed behaviour there was very little science.
The Heights by Amy Aislin F***** This was a free e-book and I was surprised and impressed. A child is abducted and then found as an adult. The writer makes the various reactions of family members extremely interesting and of course the mm romance has the ‘found’ adult as one of the protagonists and it is rewarding to see how he copes.
Fallout and Body Work by Sara Paretsky***** I bought Fallout from the sale trolley at my local library, and remembered enjoying the V.I.Warshawski series so bought more for my Kindle. The female detective was one of the ones that inspired my own writing and the stories are still fresh and gripping. Vic is a fascinating heroine.
Seeing Red by Alex Beecroft***** I gave a whole post to advertising this latest novel in the Trowchester series, and the book itself was just as good as I expected. The ‘bad’ boy’s motives are interesting and well-explained, and the owner of the threatened tea shop is a delightful character. I love these series where we gradually get to know a whole community and meet major characters from other books as minor ones in the current story. The same applies to the next two recommendations here.
Resonance, Resistance and Renaissance by Lilian Francis***** Another mm series with a well developed village community in Slopy Bottom. I enjoyed the third book even more than the first two, since getting to know so many of the minor characters.
Choosing Home, Returning Home, and Staying Home by Alexa Milne***** Again, an entire community is brought to life on the north east coast of Scotland. The first book deals with the ex-footballer owner of a local hotel where people from the next volumes stay, eat and marry. The second book introduces a local policeman and his love for a man badly injured by a city gang, and in a wheelchair. The gang kill the husband of one of the minor characters, who becomes the ‘lead’ in the third story, which also features a Church of Scotland minister and his inevitable angst over coming out as gay. The author tackles each theme with great sensitivity and gives an illuminating look at current problems faced by gay men as well as developing the location in loving detail.
Single by RJ Scott*****After a breakup, Asher decided to keep the baby born to a surrogate mother. So as a single dad, his social life seems restricted but a trio of guys, policeman, firefighter and doctor, move in next door and his life changes for the better. Heartwarming and romantic.
Heat by RJ Scott and Chris Quinton***** Interesting romance with a touch of mystery set in a restaurant in Salisbury. I’m hoping to hear more about Lewis and Devon and their families and friends. This is a collaborative work and both authors are good – it’s impossible to tell who wrote what, though I suspect Quinton was at least responsible for the locations.
And the rest:
Creative Interior Design (Ward Lock)***Worth keeping as a work of reference. I must have skimmed through it when I first bought it years ago but to be honest it seems a little dated now. Some interesting information about various periods and styles. As is often the case in this type of glossy ‘coffee table’ book I wonder whether the photographer always reads the text. I’m also not sure about the title: Interior Design, yes, but Creative?
Broken Guns by teromain*** An original novel published on AO3 (which accepts original works with some connection to fanworks e.g. common fanfic tropes). Competent writing and I found the story, set in a steampunk au, fairly gripping but I’m not usually a fan of romance between minor criminals, however much the author differentiates between those who choose a life of crime and those who are catapulted into it, so won’t be seeking any more of their work.
I read some long (novel length) and excellent fics this month, in Sherlock, SGA and H5O, including one where Steve from H5O is a vampire who wants to become human, but basically, everything required too much prior knowledge of canon to recommend to the casual reader.