Wednesday 25 December 2019

My 20 Most Viewed Blog Posts of 2019

I was surprised to see that I've written 66 posts on this blog over the course of 2019; yes, I spend most of my time at my laptop!

It's always interesting to note which ones receive the most views; the most popular are usually those that contain advice for writers, though I'm pleased that many fellow Walking Dead addicts are stopping by—and interest in my own books when they're released is so appreciated, too! 

Mostly, though, it's just good to know that you're not talking to thin air, so if you're reading this now: thank you!  Here are the twenty most viewed of this year's crop, in ascending order (ie, number one got the most!).

If there is one you would like to take a look at, please click the title :)

18: On Being Sixty I was, this year.  Totally ridiculous, of course ;)

 From September 2018 - August 2019, on the 28th of each month, I took pictures in the park where I go for my walks to track the changing seasons.

My mother died in April this year, aged 93;
I am sure she would have been amazed to see that 905 people 
took a look at a poem she wrote over 70 years ago :)

15. Blackthorn is Live!

My 20th book, published in November this year :)

One of my irregular series of TV and film reviews, with trailers

 A bit of fun, from back in April!

I love a Top Ten countdown!
Here are the ten most viewed, in reverse order: 

9.  Lately I've Been Watching....

Another of the most popular posts in my TV reviews series

2.  Hope is Live!

My 19th book, published in May this year :)

1.  Stacks of Useful Articles For Writers
~ Writing Advice ~

This is an ongoing project; I add new posts as I find them, under headings such as 'publishing' and 'social media', so it's easy to find what you're looking for.  

I'm so pleased that this has proved so successful - it's had 3923 views so far, and I hope it's helped writers new and old, everywhere!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog; happy new year and new decade, and I hope you will return!


Tuesday 24 December 2019

Lately I've Been Watching

More mini TV and film reviews.... more films than TV series this time, unusually!  I watch stuff mostly on Netflix and Amazon Prime, but some may be on other channels such as Starz, Showtime and Hulu.

Click film/show's title to find out more about it/where you can see it, etc.

For more posts in this series, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching

Film: The Irishman

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Got to be the most talked-about film of the year; in which Robert de Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci are aged down to portray the story of American union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), and his links to organised crime.  The digital ageing down and slowly up again and beyond is a feat worth watching in itself, and the film is everything you would expect from the most compelling actor of all time (de Niro!).  I look forward to watching it again, so I can see more in it; the story is actually quite complicated in parts, and I suspect it will be even better on second viewing.  No need for me to say more; if you're interested, you've probably already seen it.  It was trending on Twitter for two days!

Film: Joker

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have no interest in Batman generally, but this was FABULOUS.  It's the backstory of the Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and he is amazing.  A comment on Youtube says, 'He tried to smile behind the pain, until the pain made him smile'.  Another one says that the trailer doesn't do the film justice, and I agree; yes, it's so much more.  It's tragic, haunting, and if it doesn't win a whole bunch of awards, it damn well ought to.  'Fascinating, chilling, beautifully disturbing'.  Best film I've seen this year, I think.

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tarantino, Leonardo Di Caprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Al Pacino, the 1960s, another slant on the Manson murders... what can I say?


5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Loved this and would highly recommend if you love biopics, even if you know nothing of the history of the Wu-Tang Clan, as I didn't.  For anyone who hasn't heard of them, they're a band of musicians, rappers and producers of hardcore hip hop from Staten Island who first started to emerge in the late 1980s, and have been named by those whose opinion matters as the best hip hop group of all time, and hugely influential, generally.  The music is great, but even if you have no interest in the scene, it's a terrifically well-written and acted, and quite uplifting, as the members eventually choose music over a life of crime.

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The 2019 version, starring Guy Pearce as Scrooge and Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley.  Very long, highly atmospheric and extremely well done; ideal Christmas Eve night TV.  As it was made in conjunction with the BBC there were a few irritations, and I was a little disappointed in Christmas Future (I expected it to be more frightening), but it's a fine film and definitely one to snuggle up with in the dark over the Christmas period (pyjamas, duvets, chocolates... that sort of film!)

Film: Judy

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Renรฉe Zellweger is stunningly good as the tragic Judy Garland, in this depiction of a few months in the last year of her life, most of it spent in London.  It's so, so moving.  Be prepared to feel anger, frustration, and a lot of really sad stuff.  And if Ms Zellweger ever needed to shrug off the ghost of Bridget Jones, she's surely done it with this award-worthy performance.

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

True story starring Forest Whitaker as New York gangster Bumpy Johnson, who returns from 10 years in Alcatraz to find that the New York streets are no longer his own, and tangles with the Genovese crime family in order to regain control.  Kept me interested all the way through, definitely recommend :).

Comedy series: Silicon Valley (Season 6)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Better than Season 5, by far - the final one, and a worthy, amusing, clever and satisfying ending to this show, which I recommend highly!

Film: Freaks

3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Suspense thriller about some people with dangerous superpowers who live, hidden, in an ordinary community, within which there is much prejudice against those of their type.  Not memorable, but enjoyable.  
TWD fans will enjoy seeing Siddiq in a new role :)

Film: Ready or Not

3 stars ⭐⭐⭐

Daft, darkly humorous horror film about a woman who marries into an aristocratic family with weird traditions.  A good story, and fairly enjoyable, but I think it might have had much potential if it had been done as serious horror rather than comedy horror.  Very gory, in case you're bothered about such things.


Saturday 30 November 2019

As #Autumn Becomes #Winter...

The Park, November 30th

Mr Squirrel!  Pleased this one worked out - by which I mean that you can
actually see the squirrel and he's not blurred!

Saturday 23 November 2019

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10x08 THE WORLD BEFORE #TWD #TWDFamily

Review: S10x07 OPEN YOUR EYES

Written by Julia Ruchman
Directed by John Dahl

'Let's get to it—screw these freaks' 

The last three episodes really have been outstanding, haven't they?  Excellent dialogue, threads woven together so artfully, and (as Negan would say), some seriously unpredictable shit. ๐Ÿ˜†  I can't imagine what is going to happen in the second half, which is just as it should be.

So finally we see the backstory of Dante, though we still don't know where he came from—not that it matters now.  I'm slightly disappointed about the way that whole storyline was wrapped up so quickly, because it had so much potential, but I'm delighted that it was Gabriel who killed him.  Letting the desire for revenge triumph over his usual wise judgement was so much the right thing as far as Siddiq, Rosita and Coco are concerned.

Maybe he will get hassle from some of the others for disposing of Dante before they got a chance to grill him for Whisperer information, thought that won't be a concern right now, seeing as most of the A team are currently stuck down a Walker-filled pit. 

Oh Carol, you were the one who hung back after Daryl had dismissed Aaron's intel as a con; that look on your face said I'm not so sure... I think they're here—so why respond to the bait?  I get it, though—she's on a mission, and not even beginning to work through her grief over Henry.  Before the heads on the spikes, Carol coolly worked stuff out, did what she thought was best, every time, and she was always right, but it seems losing Henry was the last straw, and now she's dashing forth, blinded by her need to avenge his death.

So did Gamma lie to Aaron, or did Alpha send her to him as an unwitting decoy, knowing that she would betray her?  The latter, I believe.

That exchange between Carol and Daryl brought tears to my eyes.  'I'm the one you tell.  Me.'  You could see the relief she felt when she went into his arms ... and the tenderness and concern he feels for her, too.  Also good that it wasn't overdone; I'm glad that the writers aren't laying their relationship on too thick, because Daryl was always a man of few but important words ('Nah'), and Carol, by her own admission, finds it so hard to talk about her pain.

'We have a future.  Don't let her take that, too'

Meanwhile, back on the road, with Michonne and Judith ... it's good to see the lovely Scott get more screentime and lines—to see people like him and Barbara, who were Alexandria residents before our gang showed up; they've become like old friends too, now, as more of the characters from the first six seasons disappear.  

As for Luke—hasn't he learned, after all this time, that you do a sweep through every building before you start looking for stuff?  New character Virgil had 'good guy' written all over him, though we can only guess at what will happen to Michonne now that she's sailed off with him; I hope I don't come to eat my words.  I see the orange backpack now has a new owner; is this symbolic?  

Michonne and Judith make a touching team, strong and sweet all at the same time (how proud Rick, Carl and Lori would be!) though I was surprised to hear no mention of 'give my love to your brother' before Michonne left, or that she had to get back because of him, as well as to give support to the rest of Alexandria.  I loved her mention of 'My mercy prevails over my wrath'; not just Siddiq, but Rick too; and how she underlined to Virgil that his wife and kids must be worried, and wondering where he is: 'Don't put them through that'.  Because she knows what it's like...

A definite theme ran through this episode, reflected in the title ... Aaron's story to Gracie about the relics from the lost Native American tribe, as though he was thinking that the humans still trying to cling onto civilisation might meet the same fate; Dante saying that such communities will 'crumble at the smallest nick', and his echoing of Alpha's philosophy about what people are, these days ... also Rosita's doubting herself as the kick-ass warrior we knew before motherhood.

And so the communities are now left without anyone with medical knowhow.  Then again, who remembers Carol tending to Hershel's leg and planning Lori's C section in S3x02 SICK, because she'd learned some stuff from Hershel?  Still, I can't see her staying home with a stethoscope instead of out there wasting hostiles, of the dead and the undead variety (quote: Abraham, S6x14!).

Other bits and bobs:
  • Gabriel's words of wisdom: 'Feelings don't predict the future'.  Wonderful advice to anyone who suffers from anxiety!
  • I like that Siddiq turned; not many of the main characters get to be a Walker!
  • When Dante said, 'Look what people did to the world', did he mean that the Walker virus was man-made?
  • So Aaron's number plates survived even the fire of two mid-season finales ago!  Wonder if he's got another Alaska one yet?!

  • Another bit of clever TWD detail from the old world, always noticed and appreciated—how the Walker that Eugene helped Rosita kill was wearing a dayglo tabard and a helmet, an indication that he was one from the very early days. 
  • Love that Judith is keeping a log—maybe Rick will get to read it one day.  Writers, producers, please let that happen!! 
  • What will happen to Gamma and Lydia?  I assume Lydia is not just gone, as Daryl said, and that Gamma has allowed her feelings for her family to quash any remaining loyalty she has for Alpha.  Will they be instrumental in getting Daryl and co out of the Walker pit?  Or will that just be down to Negan?  'Nah' - I'm sure they can find a way out, themselves ... but where will they end up?

Are those spikes at the Alpha's new border 
ready for a new set of heads?

Not on Carol's watch.....