Not to be confused with my top picks of the year!
Films and TV
Vienna Blood***** Reviewed in more depth last month when I pleaded with people to watch it and persuade BBC to make more.
The Nightmare before Christmas***** (re-watch) I adore Tim Burton.
Elizabeth is Missing (Glenda Jackson)***** Glenda’s acting is superb but so is the work of whoever conceived and wrote the script – a woman’s descent into dementia.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children***** I already said I adore Tim Burton. I think he makes all his films specially for me.
Game of Thrones Season 8***** I managed to avoid spoilers till my DVD (pre-ordered) arrived… Now I just hope Martin gets on with the final book!!
War of the Worlds**** I kept trying to spot landmarks in Weybridge because my in-laws live near there… I liked all the period detail and the Wells references.
The Sinner Season 2**** Run of the mill American thriller. Quite good but I wasn’t keen on the main actor.
The Name of the Rose (TV series)**** Look out for an in depth review later this month
David Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur**** Fascinating. I think it was a re-watch.
And the mediocre:
Beauty and the Beast (2017)*** I kept falling asleep. Gorgeous lush sets and costumes but otherwise ordinary and I didn’t find any of the songs memorable.
Submerge by Eleanor Musgrove***** An undercover cop gets involved with the members of an LGBT club. Superb minor characters (and I read a Christmas short about two of them).
HE’S BEHIND YOU by Clare London (Rainbow)***** Pantomime mayhem in the village hall and a budding romance or two.
The Christmas Deal by Keira Andrews***** Fake boyfriends to lovers with a Christmas focus. Heartwarming and beautifully written.
The Taitaja by silverr***** Original work on AO3. FF story set in a fantasy world. https://archiveofourown.org/works/12197871
Angels Sing by Eli Easton***** Jamie and Stanton produce a school Christmas performance, save a bookshop, raise Mia and fall in love. Delightful.
The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish***** Corbin and Alex bond over baking. A magical Chanukah story of love and acceptance.
Shutter Angel by Dawn Sister*****Wonderful story in which a churchwarden finds love unexpectedly.
A Box of Wishes by Jackie Keswick***** A cat helps along romance between a cop and a cafe owner with a magical box.
Shooting Star by Kaje Harper***** Plenty of excitement (and romance) when a doctor is accidentally drawn into the affairs of an undercover cop.
The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith****It’s witches who make the wine in France (and the beer in Germany) so wonderful. An exciting (and romantic) story about a witch who returns from a curse to find a new owner of ‘her’ vineyard.
A Christmas Chance by Louisa Masters**** Paul and Jacob in Paris. I got the impression I should have read other books in the series first.
Yours for the Holiday by DJ Jamison**** It can be difficult when you fall for your best friend’s little brother who is now all grown up. Especially when you’re spending Christmas at their family cabin.
The Greenway by Jane Adams*** A thriller set in Norfolk. Interesting but I didn’t feel a need for any more about either the police or the victims.
Crossroads (Book 1) by Riley Hart*** Neighbours fall in love even though one thought he was straight.
This was a wonderful month, with nothing poor or dire!
Then there were numerous short stories, mostly offered free via advent calendars on social media or via author newsletters. I won’t give you the entire list – they were all individually worth reading but at times I felt as if I was drowning in sugar and the tales tended to blur. Of course, I offered one myself… I’ll just list the seriously good reads which were either by authors I already know or tempted me to explore their works and add to my tbr list.
How a ghost cat saves Christmas by Terry Poole***** I loved the ghost cat and his interactions with his humans.
The Choice by Barbara Elsborg*****A paranormal romance with twists and turns.
A Very English Christmas by Keira Andrews***** Isaac and David from the author’s Amish trilogy (which I love) spend their first Christmas in what they call the English community.
The Doll Maker by Hannah Henry***** An intriguing story about a dollmaker whose dolls are more than they seem.
Merry and Bright by Joanna Chambers***** Three stories with a Christmas theme in one volume.
In case you missed it, my ff Christmas story False Starts is still free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/997047 I meant to put it on Amazon this week and start charging but there are some formatting problems so I’ll leave it alone for a week or two!
I can’t resist mentioning Sloth’s Christmas Miscellany by Small_Hobbit**** https://archiveofourown.org/works/21672616 A mixed bag of short pieces, all quite delightful. No single entry is quite worth five stars but the whole collection is wonderful and when the latest offering arrives in my inbox it makes my day!
I’ve been steadily making my way through the SGA Secret Santa collection and haven’t finished yet.
Everything he needs by respoftw***** was written for me and is superb https://archiveofourown.org/bookmarks/426121294
(I gifted someone else with: Why it would never have worked (a tongue in cheek take on the sex pollen trope) in case you’re interested. https://archiveofourown.org/works/21759241)
Last but not by any means least I did the beta for my daughter’s Supernatural challenge and absolutely loved her story which is a mediaeval AU with Dean as a dragon and Sam as a warrior. It isn’t even my fandom, but I adore dragons and her writing has always been excellent!
Dragonwilde by Fledhyris***** https://archiveofourown.org/works/21685843
We watched Name of the Rose and found it very confusing even though both of us had read the book when it came out in English and saw the Connery film adaptation. I found a lot of the dialogue so difficult to understand we resorted to subtitles. It looked good (opening credits lovely, and music, too), and Rupert Everett was evil incarnate but for me the incoherence meant I couldn’t enjoy watching because a lot of the time I didn’t know what was going on. It didn’t help how the BBC mucked about with the showing, of course, re-scheduling twice in eight weeks. Vienna Blood OTOH was brilliant and I hope they film the remaining books. Giri/Haji was my highlight this year.
I agree with much of what you say – in fact I’ve been writing a critique of book, film and series, and am about to post it – probably today! I adored Vienna Blood. We haven’t watched Giri/Haji. It’s on the list but considering the length of the list and the time available it might not make it…