It’s early April, so it’s time for me to write about what I read in March. This was a bit slower than January and February, which is due to a few things. I went home for a few days to visit my family for my nephew’s first birthday. It could be being stuck at home due to CoVID-19 and low motivation to read generally. I also noticed that I only listened to two audiobooks this month. I’ve added a book of the month to the post, because I want to highlight the books I really loved.
It’s the end of another month, so let’s talk books! This is mainly a way for me to write down some thoughts on the things I’ve read and what I really liked. There are potential spoilers, so proceed with caution (I haven’t written anything yet, so I can’t be 100% sure). I also completely forgot about this post for a little bit, so onward!
I like to say that I don’t do resolutions, I do goals, but when it comes to pop culture, resolution makes more sense. What I want to do this year is expand my knowledge of pop culture including knowledge of history, so I have a variety of things that I’d like to do. And since this draft has been sitting here for a few weeks, the last day of January seems like an appropriate time to publish.
It’s a long weekend, so even though it’s Monday night, I keep thinking it’s Sunday. It’s been over a week since I posted anything, but there are some things I’ve been working on as well. I haven’t watched any of the new Netflix shows, but I am looking forward to the return of Daredevil this Friday. I have been keeping up with Jane the Virgin and Better Call Saul (iZombie went on hiatus the same week I did), and I’m trying my hardest to keep up with The 100, but it’s on at the same time as everything else (Wednesday night), so I keep forgetting to record it. I watched North and South on Netflix with my mum, and my next decision is whether to watch Luther or Master of None with her.
I started tweeting a lot about the Hottest 100 both last night and this afternoon, and it finally got to the point where I knew I should move my comments onto a platform that allows for more space (by the way, I am against Twitter increasing its current character limit. 140 is great). If you’re sick of reading thinkpieces about the Hottest 100, I’ll be okay if you leave. I have a complicated relationship with the Hottest 100 – I listen most years, but I think this is the first time I’ve voted since 2012 – and this year I found myself agonising over my Top 10. I’m posting an image of it, which is something I’ve never done in the past just so we can see how I voted. You can access a full list of the Countdown here.
I decided to do a Goodreads challenge this year, and set myself the challenge of reading 50 books. Apparently it sends you updates to let you know if you’re on track, and that’s the kind of thing I need. Anyway, the first book I read in 2015 was The Seventh Miss Hatfield, by Anna Caltabiano, which I picked up last year at this book swap. Rather than write two reviews, I’m going to embed my reviews from Goodreads and then there will be spoilers on the blog.
The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I picked The Seventh Miss Hatfield up at a book swap last August and only just got around to reading it. It looked intriguing, and I don’t know anyone who has heard of it. This book was okay. As the blurb says, it’s about a young girl who is tricked into becoming immortal, and is able to travel through time. Time travel is one of my favourite genre tropes, and I was happy that Caltabiano used it in a way that I hadn’t seen before in any of the vast time travel stories I’ve seen and read. This book is largely a time travel romance with some adventure in it, and I felt that it focused on some elements more than others. I liked that it explored the problems with immortality, but I found that the romance storyline was predictable, and figured out the big twist at the end less than 100 pages into the book. It was only a couple of days ago that I discovered Caltabiano wrote this when she was 17, which gives me hope. There were elements of this book that were promising, and I’m interested to see her grow as a writer, and I’m glad that the Hatfield story will be a series. It’s the sort of series that doesn’t have to pick up where the previous one left off, but work more like Bridie’s Fire. While I didn’t love this book, there’s enough good in it to make me want to read the rest of the series, and I hope that Anna Caltabiano grows as a writer, because she shows promise.
(I gave this book 2 stars, but I follow the Goodreads suggestions and “it was okay” is how I feel about it.)
View all my reviews
“He sits motionless, like a spider in the centre of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them. He does little himself. He only plans.” – Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Final Problem
One of the most interesting things about the Sherlock Holmes canon is that Watson never actually met Moriarty. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Moriarty as a way to kill off his famous character, because he was sick of writing about Sherlock. Watson is our narrator, and he never met Moriarty or saw Sherlock fall to his ‘death’. Thus Moriarty has become a more prominent character in adaptations of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories than he ever was in the books. I’m a big fan of Doyle’s work, and as much as I loved the first two seasons of Sherlock, they’ll never be quite as good as the original work. In addition to making a Sherlock holiday special, the BBC also broadcast a half-hour retrospective of the television show, which was hosted by Mark Gatiss. The documentary, titled A Study in Sherlock was much more fascinating to me as a fan of the stories as it gets behind the logic of the adaptation. “The Abominable Bride” was fine, but it wasn’t the best work the show has done, and I’m far more fascinated in why Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss made the choices they did in adapting the show.
The discovery that Robert Galbraith was actually a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling was a great day. I can’t quite remember how the news was released, but I didn’t care. It was a new J.K. Rowling book! Way back in 2008 (or possibly 2009), I listened to PotterCast, my favourite Harry Potter podcast (I stopped listening when Sue left), featuring John and Hank Green. Melissa Anelli and Hank Green both discussed how good J.K. Rowling was at mysteries, and that she was very Agatha Christie-esque. I spent most of my first year of uni reading Agatha Christie novels, and I saw the similarities. This is all to say that branching into crime was the perfect move for J.K. Rowling. I guess there are spoilers for character stuff, but not the end of the book.
The end of year is a time for lists in the pop culture world. It’s quite convenient for me right now, because I haven’t had time to watch or even listen to anything in order to be able to review it. This week will be some reviews, some lists and I don’t know what else. It depends on where my whims take me, and what I have time to actually write. One of my plans for the holidays is to read Wolf Hall, the first two chapters of which I read in April. I’m not entirely sure which month, but it was around then. So today I’m just going to write about some of my favourite podcasts for the year, most of which I’ve probably written about previously, but there are always new episodes. These are in no particular order other than the top one, I’m just writing things as I remember them.
I’m way more excited about the new Fantastic Beasts trailer than I am about The Force Awakens.
My dad took me to see the original Star Wars trilogy in the cinema (not all in one sitting, thank goodness), when I was about seven. This was probably a bit too young for me to be seeing Star Wars. I have never been a massive genre fan, and me not liking (probably due to not understanding) Star Wars has been a factor in my resistance to genre fiction. I do remember “I am your father,” but I was far too young to understand what it meant. By the time I did understand it, I knew that it had now become a trope with diminishing returns every time someone tried to copy The Empire Strikes Back. When it was announced that there was going to be a prequel trilogy, I had zero interest.
I saw A New Hope again a couple of years ago when my sister brought her copy of the DVD home, and I liked it! I didn’t like it enough to immediately watch the other two films, because I have a pretty good memory, and also because Star Wars is such as significant part of the pop culture landscape. I started to get excited at the beginning of the year, when I heard that Felicity Jones was going to be the lead in a standalone film, and that Rian Johnson, director of three of the best episodes of Breaking Bad, would be directing Episode XIII. In my mind, I had conflated these two films, so I thought Johnson would be directing Jones, but it didn’t matter – my interest in pop culture means that I will see The Force Awakens in the next month or so, but I’m not desperate to see it.
This afternoon I was watching my Twitter feed with bemusement, as it was half Force Awakens hints/jealousy of screener privilege, and half Republican debates (seriously, why do they need so many?) Then as I hopped on Twitter, this evening, I realised: this is going to be me in a year when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is released. Harry Potter is where my fandom has always been strongest. I have a Ravenclaw banner hanging up in my room. When I went to Florida in January 2014, I’m fairly sure I spent at least $200 on Harry Potter merchandise. I got a full cloth-bound set of the books for my 21st birthday, and the illustrated edition of The Philosopher’s Stone is the first thing I asked for for Christmas. The Harry Potter films will never be as good as the books, but I have hopes for Fantastic Beasts because Jo Rowling wrote it. I just want to tell the internet that I get it – my disappointment with the adaptation is probably not equal to the Star Wars fandom’s disappointment with the prequel trilogy. However, I get why you’re excited, and I’ll probably be reacting the same way when all my favourite film critics get to go to screenings of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.*
* I just remembered that I saw someone buy a copy of the book the other day. I also