Favourite media of 2022

We did summarize our 2022 blogging, now it’s time for books, shows and movies… we’ll see how long it gets, but we’ll try to cover it all in one post. It’s been a busy year, but a lot was consumed nonetheless, just maybe a bit different stuff than usual 🙂

Piotrek: Lets start with books, the crown achievement of human culture and our blog’s main topic. According to GoodReads I read 107 titles in 2022 and that added up to 39,400 pages. One of my better years on record. Average book length was 368 pages and that is the record, I believe. I did some re-reads, I read some books that were waiting a long time on my shelf, and I read a lot on the most important topic of the year – Ukraine and its struggle against Russian colonialism and imperialism, and not only on the battlefields, but in the minds of people all around the world.

I’ll start with re-reads. There’s been more of that than usual, and I want to mention two. Shōgun disappointed Bookstooge during his recent re-read, but he made me wanna revisit the book myself. And it was just as good! I don’t mind profanity, or even blasphemy, and it’s such an epic adventure it makes me want to also replay the excellent Total War: Shogun 2 computer strategy. But I also had my disappointment and it sadly was The Legend of Drizzt. I like R.A. Salvatore, whenever I listen to an interview on some fantasy podcast he comes out as a nice human being. But reading his books just isn’t as fun as it used to be. This one wasn’t, and neither were short stories I loved in the 90-ties… there’s always a risk in revisiting childhood favourites, sometimes it pays out sometimes it doesn’t.

Now my favourite genre fiction. This year it constituted (fantasy and sf combined) about 1/3 of my reading, probably the lowest since… early elementary school? But these were mostly solid works. And I’ve chosen three that I liked the most (in no particular order).

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Favourite Visual Media of 2021

Piotrek: Ok, so we already told you about our favourite books, now the time comes for the visual media. And it’s been a good year on this front, as well! Not so much for cinema, I’ve only been… twice, I think? But there were some great shows and a few good movies also. With frequent lockdowns there I had time to see quite a lot, but here I’ll only mention the best of the best, and only things premiered in 2021.

First, Piotrek’s favourite movies.

Dune

It was the movie of the year, definitely. Can’t wait for it to get to one of the streaming services so I can re-watch. There were several great reviews around, including a glowing one from Bookstooge that I totally agree with. SF’s ultimate classic got an adaptation it deserved, and that sadly Lynch did not deliver. Atmosphere, music, casting, scenography – all shined and played well together. It could be longer, some things are missing, and I think we deserve a Director’s Cut with extra 30-45 minutes, but even the theatrical version was excellent.

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The Best of 2021 in Books and Comics

Oh, 2021… it was, in many ways, quite similar to 2020, actually. We did a general summary of the year here, and now the time comes to sum up our reading/watching experiences. This year, we decided to combine our best and worst title is one place, one reason being it’s already mid-January…

Piotrek: and another, at least in my case, that I mostly made really good choices and there’s really not that much bad stuff to write about.

Ola: Oh, for me this reading year was more of a mixed bag, with some truly flabbergasting titles from NetGalley – and some truly amazing, too. It was generally a pretty good year, reading-wise. Lots of solid titles, not too many re-reads… I will also remember this year as my introduction to the marvellous metaverse of manga – and that journey will continue!

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Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Velvet Was the Night (2021)

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Velvet Was the Night

Format: E-book

Pages: 304

Series: –

The newest Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s book is a historical noir mystery/crime, set in the simmering danger of 1970s Mexico, when both the people and the country seemed inescapably gripped in a continuous, dispiriting turmoil. Whatever else you’ve read by this author, Velvet Was the Night might still surprise you. There’s not a whiff of supernatural anywhere; well, except for the very real horror that humans are capable of. There’s also not much of a romance, or beauty. Indeed, Velvet Was the Night is a surprisingly political book, depicting violent actions of increasingly more desperate, more ruthless factions of an internal conflict fueled by ideology, economy, and foreign interests. While its scope and stakes seem small – no grand assassinations or rebellions, no dramatic political shifts, just common people caught between a rock and a hard place – the ultimate price is still paid in the most valuable currency: human life and decency. 

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Bernard Cornwell, The Lords of the North (2007)

Author: Bernard Cornwell

Title: The Lords of the North

Format: paperback

Pages: 383

Series: The Saxon Stories #3

Today I was supposed to publish a review of P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn, but, as The Saxon Stories’ protagonist Uthred would say,

Wyrd bið ful ãræd – Fate remains inexorable

Having started Clark’s novel after finishing The Lords of the North I haven’t done A Master of Djinn any favors; in fact, I’m actually pretty close to DNFing it – not because it’s so bad, (it isn’t that bad, after 1/3 it’s just mediocre and way too similar to Kate Daniels for my liking) but because Cornwell’s book was so much better.

With three books already read I feel I’m justified in saying that The Saxon Stories series is among the very best of what historical fiction genre has to offer. It’s well researched, believable, carefully constructed (or reconstructed, at least in part), dramatic, funny and heart-breaking in turns. The previous installment, The Pale Horseman, turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read in 2020; while The Lords of the North is slightly weaker, due to some repetitiveness in structure, it’s currently one of the best reads of 2021 for me.

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