Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

“The rumors were fed well, and grew fat and solid. They sprouted legs and heads, and they never died.”

Originally published in 2017, The Dry by Jane Harper follows Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk who reluctantly returns to home to the small Australian town of Kiewarra, a farming community in the grip of the worst drought in a century. Falk is loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier, but must make his way back to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, who has been shot along with his wife and child. Forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family, Luke’s death threatens to bring to the surface a secret that Falk and Luke Hadler shared. A secret Falk thought was long buried.

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Book Review: Shadow Of A Doubt by Michelle Davies

“He’s not here yet. But he will be, soon, and when Matty sees him too, everyone will know she is telling the truth about what’s been disturbing her nighttime for the past few months.”

Set to be released on 4th February, Shadow Of A Doubt by Michelle Davies follows Cara who, twenty-six years ago, was sent to a psychiatric unit for killing her brother in their family home. But the truth is, she didn’t do it. The whole world believed that eight-year-old Cara killed her younger brother on that fateful night, but she blamed it on a paranormal entity she swears was haunting her house. No one believed her and, after two years of treatment in a psychiatric unit for delusional disorder, Cara was shunned by her remaining family and put into foster care. Now she’s being forced to return to the family home for the first time since her brother’s death, but what if she’s about to re-discover the evil that was lurking inside its walls?

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BLOG TOUR: Into The Woods by David Mark

Set to be released on 21st January, Into The Woods By David Mark follows investigative journalist Rowan Blake who is looking for an idea for his next book. He’s soon reminded of the case of three school-friends thirty years ago who went missing after taking a walk in the woods. Only two came back – their memories a jumble of hallucinations and twisted visions. But why did nobody look for the missing girl?

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Book Review: The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

“A sleeping woman watched over by the stranger who had hidden for hours in the shadowed bay of her bedroom curtains. That’s all there was to the scene. He was a spider, patient and unmoving, poised to drop and stun his prey. There was no malice to it. Only need.”

Set to be released on 4th February, The Shadow Man by Helen Fields follows Forensic Psychologist Connie Woodwine and Detective Brodie Baarda as they try to find a kidnapper lurking the streets of Edinburgh who is collecting his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe. Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go. Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth. Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real. And he’s watching.

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Book Review: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

“Sounds like a witch to me. How else would she know those things?”

Published in 2019, The Familiars by Stacey Halls is set in Lancashire in 1612 and follows newly-wed noblewoman Fleetwood Shuttleworth who, at the age of only 17, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance, she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft. Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence, but time is running out and both of their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

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Book Review: Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters

“Sometimes you can only get where you need to go by taking small steps. You just have to be willing to take a chance.”

The 2020 rom-com by Rachel Winters, Would Like To Meet follows 29-year-old Evie Summers who, after seven years as an assistant, is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy. The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block, and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

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Book Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

“The four winds have blown us here, people from all across the country, to the very end of this great land. And now, at last, we make our stand, fight for what we know to be right. We fight for our American dream, that it will be possible again.”

Set to be released on 2nd February, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is set in Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods. The crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life.

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Book Review: The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward

“Killing things is hard, sure, but keeping them see and alive is much more difficult. Oh boy, do I know about that.”

Set to be released on 18th March 2021, The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward tells the story of a serial killer, and a stolen child. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think. Ted lives in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street. All of these things are true, yet they are all lies… You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

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READALONG: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.”

The 2020 book Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid follows a young black babysitter, Emira Tucker, who is confronted while watching two-year-old Briar one night, when a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping. A small crowd gathers, and a bystander films everything. Her boss, Alix Chamberlain, resolves to make it right. But Emira is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

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Book Review: The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor

“500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death. 30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace. Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide.”

Set to be released on 21st January, The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor follows the new Reverand of Chapel Croft, Jack Brooks, and her teenage daughter Flo, who are hoping to make a fresh start with a new job and a new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten. And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome. Yet right away, Jack has more frightening concerns. Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls? Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages? And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself? Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo. But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest…

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BLOG TOUR: The Missing Woman by Georgina Cross

“It’s like straight out of a thriller book. / Where do you think I got the idea from?”

Set to be released on 6th January 2021, The Missing Woman by Georgina Cross is set on in a town with two halves. On one side, women like Sabine Miller live in their huge houses with their perfect lives and happy marriages. They are “the other woman”. Erica isn’t like them. She is a single mum, but she doesn’t envy their lives; not anymore. On the fourth of July, the whole town is gathered at the local pool when Sabine throws Erica a desperate look across the water and suddenly disappears. Running to the back gate, all Erica finds is a gold charm bracelet that Sabine dropped on her way out. Hours later, Sabine’s husband reports her as missing. The whole town begins searching the streets, calling Sabine’s name over and over. On the TV, Mark is begging for someone to bring his wife home. Erica was the last person to see her alive, but she doesn’t want the police to find out otherwise they’ll begin questioning her. She’s terrified that they’ll find out what happened the two apparent strangers years ago – something she’s never told anyone.

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Book Review: After The End by Clare Mackintosh

“Everyone has an opinion, yet the truth is that no one can really know what is right. No one can predict the future, and so all we can do is make a decision based on the facts we have, and—sometimes on what our heart tells us.”

After The End by Clare Mackintosh, published in 2019, follows parents Max and Pip – husband and wife, best friends, lovers, and the strongest couple around. But when their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. What if they could have both?

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Book Review: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

“Life is change. If nothing’s changing, you aren’t living.”

Sophie Cousens‘ 2020 new-year romance This Time Next Year follows down-to-earth baker Minnie Cooper and well-to-do Quinn Hamilton. They were both born on New Year’s Day at the same hospital, with Quinn being born minutes earlier to win the cash prize for being the first baby born in London in 1990. Because Minnie’s birthdays have always been unlucky since, she believes that it’s down to Quinn. So when they coincidentally meet on their thirtieth birthdays, Minnie sees only more evidence that fortune has continued to favour him. The handsome, charming business owner truly seems to have it all – including the perfect girlfriend. But if Quinn and Minnie are from different worlds, why do they keep bumping into each other? And why is it that each frustrating interaction somehow seems to leave them both hoping for more?

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My Top 10 Films of 2020

For obvious reasons, I haven’t seen many films this year. But let’s stick with the tradition of sharing my annual stats.

This year, I watched 441 films (48 released this year and 290 for the first time). My most watched directors were Chris Columbus and Kenneth Branagh and my most watched actors were Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench. My most watched films were Hamilton and Frozen 2.

And here are my top 10 films of 2020 so far:

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My TV Watchlist 2020

Every year, I document every film that I watch using Letterboxd and record every book that I’ve read with Goodreads. So, I thought I would start doing the same with the TV series that I watch.

This is my TV watchlist for 2020. I haven’t included any competition shows or reality TV shows or competition shows, but I have included series from other years that I’ve watched to catch up with.

My Top 5 series Of 2020 are:
  • Normal People
  • 9-1-1 (Series Three)
  • Sex Education (Series Two)
  • The Haunting Of Bly Manor
  • Gangs Of London
Here’s a list of the series that I watched in 2020:

Netflix

You (Season Two)

Whilst I enjoyed the first season of You, I wasn’t particularly interested in a second season but I decided to give it a go anyway. The series certainly maintains the intensity and disturbing curiosity of the first, keeping you guessing throughout as to how things will inevitably unfold, but it also feels repeated in many ways and struggles to break away from the formula.

You can read my full review here.

Sex Education (Season Two)

It’s nice to see the good in people, and that’s what I love so much about this series. There are very few shows that I watch where I like every single character involved, but that’s what’s so great about Sex Education. I love every single character, and that’s why I want to spend so much time with them, because their eagerness and happy spirits make me feel better about myself.

The last episode had me laughing and crying, and yet again wanting Ncuti Gatwa to be my best friend. I really look forward to another series of this one, and I may even have to rewatch all of this before then because I just can’t wait that long.

You can read my full review here.

The Stranger (Season One)

A well-paced thriller, the tension vamps up with each episode. By around the fifth episode, you’ll want to binge-watch the rest all in one go. There are many twists and turns that will keep you engaged, and an ending that you won’t see coming (although I had guessed whodunnit in the final moments).

However, it is somewhat disappointing that there are two separate stories going on in an attempt to distract viewers from the mystery at hand, and some of the reasons given for certain characters’ behaviour don’t add up in the long run. There’s definitely a lot of loose ends which seem to be hinting at a second season, but the only thing I want to see more of are the performances from the two leads.

You can read my full review here.

The Witcher (Season One)

When it comes to the fantasy genre, there are several ways that a TV series or film can go. You can either have your Game of Thrones-style sex, gore, and dragons, or you can have your monsters, witches, elves and orgies in the woods. This is definitely the latter.

Although I hoped for more horror-fuelled monsters and blood spill as the first scene promised, what you end up with is a group of fantasy-stereotyped characters with hard-to-pronounce names, set in a fictional medieval-inspired world that is run by large goat-looking creatures rather than nightmare-ish beasts. It definitely wasn’t what I expected it to be.

You can read my full review here.

The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez (Documentary)

When I saw people talking about a new Netflix true-crime series that was to do with a young person being abused, I thought I knew what to expect and prepared myself for its upsetting subject matter. But this hit a lot harder than I thought it would.

The story of Gabriel Fernandez is a heartbreaking one all on its own, but what’s more shocking is how it could have been prevented. And that’s what’s so shocking about this documentary: the bigger picture that Gabriel wasn’t just abused by two nasty excuses for human beings, but of how he was the let down by the system, time and time again.

You can read my full review here.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (Documentary)

Netflix must have known that a worldwide lockdown was on its way because Tiger King is a binge-worthy series of the highest order. Full of eccentric personalities including drug kingpins, conmen, and cult leaders, everybody in this series is full-on crazy and there’s so much going on that it’s hard to believe that you haven’t heard anything about these people before.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch this series when it was first released because I couldn’t imagine how the story of a wild animal owner could link to a murder-for-hire plot, but this documentary series is pure entertainment. It’s equal measures of intriguing and disturbing, making you laugh at the absolutely bonkers things that go on in the narrow-sighted world of these people, but also opening your eyes to the cruelty going on in these facilities as well as the minds of their owners.

You can read my full review here.

The Innocence Files (Season One)

With series such as Making A Murderer, The Confession Tapes, and The Innocent Man being such a hit on Netflix, there was always going to be a call for more true-crime series, especially when it came to true stories about innocent people in prison. So, what a better concept than to give The Innocence Project some much-needed publicity?

The Innocence Files is a disturbing but also informative and hopeful series about real people who were sent to jail for years for something they had nothing to do with, with their convictions often being based on evidence that fell apart as soon as it came under The Innocence Project’s microscope.

You can read my full review here.

Ozark (Season 1)

It’s a complex story but one that’s easy to follow, heavy on crime but it doesn’t weigh you down with talk of money-laundering or drugs. With rich characters and clever writing, the series is very character-driven and keeps you intrigued with plenty of plot twists and well-paced developments.

You can read my full review here.

After Life (Season Two)

Gervais has been hugely praised for his writing of this series, but he also needs to be praised for his acting. Every tear his character shed, I felt the pain behind. However, the series also feels you with hope at the same time, delivering on every level.

You can read my full review here.

The Last Dance (Documentary)

The most I know about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls is that Michael Jordan was in Space Jam. And that really is it. But consider me impressed. With a blend of archival footage and present-day interviews, the comprehensive documentary tells a fascinating story, and it tells it well. Giving a behind-the-scenes look into the careers of the Chicago Bulls’ renowned players, The Last Dance is entertaining but also brilliantly insightful, reminding viewers exactly why Michael Jordan is a legend.

You can read my full review here.

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (Documentary)

The documentary may only relay the facts that are already out there, not necessarily adding anything new, but it’s a great starting point if you know little about Epstein. I had only seen what was on the news before watching this so I didn’t realise how horrific the details of this case were, and how much there is still left to uncover. It’s informative and eye-opening, but it also leaves you feeling enraged. The corruption involved is disgusting. If you didn’t realise how big this case is before, you’ll definitely understand the true scale of his crimes after watching this.

You can read my full review here.

Thirteen Reasons Why (Season Four)

After the last season, I didn’t particularly look forward to another one but I knew that the characters needed to feel guilty for their actions. But while the start of this new series’ main purpose is to do just that, it neglects to resolve anything by the end, getting lost in its plot and forgetting its roots.

Instead, this fourth season is angry and filled with elements of horror. But who is it trying to scare? Guilt may manifester itself in different ways to different people, but for a series that is already quite heavy, it all feels a little unnecessary. If it were toned down a bit, some of it could have had the desired effect but it’s just not what we needed from the final season.

You can read my full review here.

Snowpiercer (Season One)

A huge fan of the Bong Joon-ho film, I didn’t know whether to be excited about a new series that would divert people to a film that sadly missed out on a UK release, or annoyed that Joon-ho’s efforts might be overlooked for something more mainstream. But if it brings light to a truly underappreciated film, then I won’t complain.

The dystopian setting created in Le Transperceneige is what makes this such a great story worthy of adapting, rebooting and expanding on. The sci-fi premise is brilliantly crafted and explored in a unique and immersive way. Questioning class warfare, social injustice, and the politics of survival, it’s a well-developed series that is sure to entertain.

You can read my full review here.

Unsolved Mysteries (Season One)

With an apparent suicide with no evidence of how a body reached its destination, a series of UFO sightings all in the same night, and a murdered family with the accused father still on the run without a trace, Unsolved Mysteries is another gripping binge-worthy series from Netflix. I like that it has a mix of cold cases and paranormal phenomena, balancing out the harrowing to feed our true-crime obsession with the absurd to add a hint of fun. But this is one that will leave you with more questions than answers.

You can read my full review here.

The Crown (Season One)

A fantastic first series showing Elizabeth grow in confidence and takes charge. I especially loved seeing her relationship with Winston.

The Crown (Season Two)

I’m finding this series so interesting despite having no interest in the Royals. I loved the focus on Margaret, the look into Charles’ and Philip’s childhood at school, and the glimpse at the lives of JFK and Jackie.

The Social Dilemma (Documentary)

The Social Dilemma is a documentary that we all need to watch. There may be a lot that we already know about or make assumptions about, especially in regards to advertising and fake news, but it gets you thinking about your own usage of social media and I think it’s important that we all evaluate that.

You can read my full review here.

American Murder: The Family Next Door (Documentary)

Piecing together home videos, social media posts, text message conversations and interrogation room video, American Murder: The Family Next Door is a real-life found-footage horror. The way it’s formatted makes it a gripping watch. With only firsthand footage, the story is told exactly how it happened, without opinions or other points of view that may be unreliable or bias.

You can read my full review here.

Criminal: UK (Season One)

An impressive collection of stories that are told through a unique approach to police drama, looking at crimes from an angle that you wouldn’t normally expect to think about them from. It impresses, it shocks, and it constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat as you play detective along with the investigation team to decide innocent or guilty.

You can read my full review here.

Criminal: UK (Season Two)

After loving the first series of this, I couldn’t wait to get straight into the next. And I actually enjoyed this even more than the first. The cases are even more interesting as you play detective along with the investigation team to decide innocent or guilty, and it certainly keeps you battling with the decision.

You can read my full review here.

The Haunting Of Bly Manor

Another hauntingly creepy, brilliantly developed and emotionally impacting series from the team behind The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting Of Bly Manor is an exceptional ghost story full of standout performances and characters and twisted narrative.

Of course it isn’t as impressive as Hill House because that’s a series that we weren’t expecting to terrify us so much but also draw is in so emotionally. But while Bly Manor doesn’t have the big scares, it’s much more subtle in its emotional complexity and still manages to have a lasting effect.

You can read my full review here.

Ratched (Season One)

With a beautiful colour palette and a legendary cast, Ratched isn’t the gruesome, twisted horror-edged drama that I was expecting it to be, but it gives an interesting insight into what happened in mental facilities in these times.

With Ryan Murphy developing the series and Sarah Paulson in the lead, there is obviously a feeling of American Horror Story to it, especially with the mental asylum setting and murderous characters. It wasn’t quite as sinister as I thought it was going to be, though, but there are certainly some nice surprises along the way.

You can read my full review here.

Amazon Prime

The Act (Miniseries)

Patricia Arquette and Joey King give phenomenal performances as the mother and daughter, really getting into the heads of their characters to make the audience both sympathise and despise them at different times, emphasising the conflict of their motives with their actions.

With Chloë Sevigny and Calum Worthy also giving great support, they all help to tell this almost-unbelievable story brilliantly. King, especially, completely embraces the role of the high-pitched, physically and mentally tormented young Gypsy, showing the two very different sides to her personality – the fragile girl who has unknowingly been abused her whole life, and the suddenly more independent teenager who uses her newfound confidence to takes things into her own hands.

You can read my full review here.

Little Fires Everywhere (Miniseries)

With exceptional performances, perfect casting, and high-quality cinematography throughout, Little Fires Everywhere is a remarkable adaptation of a book that gets your mind ticking away. Although it differs slightly from the book, it is a superbly written story that brilliantly expands on the book’s primary themes of motherhood and identity, exploring a handful of significant issues from various perspectives through its excellently crafted but largely contrasting characters.

Reading the book, I could see why Witherspoon connected to the character of Elena. Witherspoon is such a self-aware actress that it’s no wonder she could see herself playing the role. There’s a lot to aspire about a woman like Elena. But while she has good intentions, she’s blind-sighted by her ignorance which is what makes her very unlikeable at the same time. She’s planned her whole life to ensure that she can give her children the best of everything, but she’s also neglected to put them first to be able to do this.

You can read my full review here.

Sky

The Outsider (Season One)

With a paranormal twist, The Outsider won’t be for everybody, but the quality of its look and feel may just be enough to entice any sceptic. The creepy ambience builds up a great tension and, although the final episode is somewhat anti-climactic, I’d definitely be up for another series of this, as the mid-credit scene seems to hint at.

You can read my full review here.

Ballers (Season Five)

Ballers was a series that I didn’t expect to enjoy, but ended up loving. A lot of that is to do with Dwayne Johnson’s and Rob Corddry’s fantastic comedic chemistry, but there’s also a great supporting cast which has helped to kick off the acting career of the brilliant John David Washington.

But what I loved about the first three seasons has become lost in these final two, so I wasn’t surprised to find out that the series had been cancelled. This final season does attempt to retouch on some of the sporting topics that the first season opened up some important discussions about, but it’s definitely too little, too late.

You can read my full review here.

The Jinx (Documentary)

The Jinx is the definition of a groundbreaking documentary in that it goes far beyond relaying facts. It exposes long-buried information, finds new evidence, and even unveils a potential confession, albeit one that was likely to not be admissible in court.

With the filmmakers having spent nearly 10 years researching Durst’s story, they knew the ins and outs of the case before Durst agreed to talk to them. Their meticulous research and investigative efforts not only got Durst, the prime suspect, to finally talk, but it helped to lead to his arrest, ultimately managing to do what law enforcement could not.

You can read my full review here.

Beware The Slenderman (Documentary)

Too often I watch a documentary and instantly lose trust in the subjects and lack any compassion for them. And rightly so. They’ve committed a horrible crime, so I don’t expect to understand their point of view. So I thought that would be the same for this documentary. From the trailer alone, I couldn’t imagine that I would ever believe that two people killed because they genuinely believed in a Boogeyman. But this documentary is far more than just a horror story.

What this documentary does best of all is that it doesn’t exploit its young subjects. Instead, it offers a sensitive exploration into mental illness and opens up a debate about the impact of the internet on children. In no way do I sympathise with the two girls – they still attempted to kill somebody (who fortunately recovered after six days in the hospital) after all – but the documentary brilliantly highlights how young and naive minds can be manipulated by something much bigger than them.

You can read my full review here.

Breeders (Season One)

Partially based on Freeman’s own experience as a parent, Breeders is a painfully honest and non-judgemental, although hugely dramatised, look at how parenthood is often very messy.

There’s a lot of dry British humour and it’s not something that everybody will relate to. It’s also very exaggerated as Freeman’s character, Paul, is the extreme of a “parent behaving badly”. He does come across as a little too aggressive at times, but most parents will be happy to admit that: “I would die for those kids. But often, I also want to kill them.”

You can read my full review here.

Gangs of London (Season One)

Full of gripping performances, brilliantly choreographed graphic violence and even more sexual tension, Gangs of London is undoubtedly the best series of the year so far, and it will be hard for another to top the experience I’ve had with this immensely impressive crime drama.

You can read my full review here.

I Know This Much Is True (Miniseries)

A truthful and raw drama with powerful performances, I Know This Much Is True is a hard-hitting story that excels in quality, but tells a grim story that has no lighter moments to give you chance to breathe.

I was intrigued by this series as it’s directed by Derek Cianfrance and I love his films. Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines, and The Light Between Oceans are all some of my favourites. They all have their darker moments, too, and Cianfrance certainly knows how to get the most of the talented actors he gets involved in his work, but I really felt the misery of I Know This Much Is True.

You can read my full review here.

Little Birds (Season One)

The high saturated colours and soft shallow camera focus are stunning and the performances are strong, but I don’t completely understand the point of the story. It didn’t go anywhere, so I’m left feeling really underwhelmed.

An adaptation of Nin’s infamous collection of short stories, the erotism gets lost after a couple of episodes and instead focusses on the politics of that time. Instead of these characters finding themselves in a vibrant new world, I don’t feel that any of them got closure.

You can read my full review here.

Brave New World (Season One)

I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if it’s a good adaptation or not, but there’s no doubt that it only skims the surface of Huxley’s complex ideas. Still, I think The New World is set up well and that the series showcases his imagined utopia brilliantly. I especially like the idea of freedom vs happiness and the series makes you think about what you would do. Would you keep taking the pill and live a luxury life in pretence? Or would you risk going rogue to hold onto your true emotions?

You can read my full review here.

The Third Day (Miniseries)

The opening episode of The Third Day is an impressive example of folk-horror. The quality of this single episode alone is better than most TV I have watched this year. It grabbed my attention and chilled me to the bones, and there’s certainly a lot of intrigue that follows. But the atmosphere slowly died down after that, and what we’re left with felt a little confused.

You can read my full review here.

9-1-1 (Season Three)

I randomly found this series when it first aired in 2018 and was instantly hooked. It has since become one of my favourite TV shows and I always look forward to what a new episode will bring. But with 28 episodes behind it, I wondered how they could keep up the excitement with a third series. Have they done it all? How will they top the events of the last season? The answer: a tsunami.

You can read my full review here.

9-1-1: Lone Star (Season One)

As a huge fan of 9-1-1, I was more than happy to have something similar to fill the void. While this spin-off isn’t as fun and the characters aren’t as compelling as its origin show, Lone Star is still a thoroughly entertaining series with more interesting cases and engaging characters, which yet again explores a number of important and relevant topics in an engaging way.

You can read my full review here.

Prodigal Son (Season One)

With grotesque murders, disturbing characters, malicious motives, and dark intrigue, it’s certainly a series that will keep you hooked. The cast are all brilliant. Payne leads the show with great energy and has an amazing support from those who play his colleagues and family. And of course, Michael Sheen is brilliant, as always, although I did want to see a lot more of him.

You can read my full review here.

The Undoing (Season One)

Is this really the first time that Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant have starred in something together? I mean, they’ve certainly made it worth our wait, but I can’t believe that we haven’t seen these iconic actors working together before.

Maybe that’s why so many of us tuned in to watch the premiere of this show. Because with a cast list of this quality, it had to be worth the watch, right? Kidman and Grant certainly don’t disappoint, and with Édgar Ramírez, Donald Sutherland, and a fantastic performance from Noah Jupe, too, the performances are undoubtedly all on top form.

You can read my full review here.

BBC

Death In Paradise (Season Nine)

It was sad to see Ardal O’Hanlon depart the series as he really got me into it, but Ralf Little certainly shows a lot of promise by adding a new personality.

The Pale Horse (Miniseries)

I always look forward to an Agatha Christie TV adaptation at Christmas, but I felt that this one was a little underwhelming. Sewell and Scodelario are good, but I wasn’t invested in the mystery.

Noughts + Crosses (Season One)

Following a premise which feels more and more apt in our increasingly backwards world, Noughts + Crosses is an original young adult [sort of] dystopia, exploring an alternative present-day in a way that we haven’t experienced before. As an example of speculative fiction with the reversal of skin colour, it’s a fresh, likeable and contemporary series to get excited about.

You can read my full review here.

The Nest (Season One)

The Nest has had me gripped like no other series so far this year. Whilst you know that things aren’t going to go well from the beginning, the dark places that this series goes to are completely unexpected. The story not only shows a more sensitive yearning for a woman’s need to have a child of her own, but also the grittier, more conflicting sides to human nature of how money can make you feel untouchable, how secrets can eat away at you, and the desperate lengths that we go to for the ones we love.

You can read my full review here.

Killing Eve (Season Three)

Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh give more great performances and their characters are still incredibly likeable, but this third season just wasn’t as exciting or daring. It was still enjoyable to watch and there are certainly some compelling moments, but I didn’t find myself looking forward to it as I once was. It definitely feels like it’s lost its spark now. Just like Villeneuve, I want out.

You can read my full review here.

DEVS (Season One)

I really thought I was going to love this series. I’m a big fan of Alex Garland and this sci-fi heavy series has his vibrant, futuristic aesthetics but hauntingly dark atmosphere written all over it. Garland is undeniably a talented writer, known for his in-depth story-telling. But I couldn’t get into DEVS torturous slow pace or deadpan characters. Its philosophical story is definitely not easy viewing. Although the deeper questions of humanity and its place in the universe leave their mark, I just couldn’t enjoy the journey it took to get there.

Normal People (Miniseries)

Sometimes you find a story that really resonates with you, and for me, that was Normal People. I haven’t been so enticed by two characters in a long time, and I just can’t stop thinking about Marianne and Connell and their story. It’s incredibly moving in its intimate moments but also heart-wrenching in its authenticity. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal who are both absolutely phenomenal.

You can read my full review here.

The Secrets She Keeps (Season One)

A gripping thriller with a compelling narrative, strong performances, serious drama and plenty of mystery, you will want to watch this engaging and psychological drama in one sitting. The central premise of two women being willing to do whatever it takes to conceal their truth is powerful and although both women behave wrongly, you can’t help but feel the power of the emotional drive behind their actions.

You can read my full review here.

Harlots (Season One)

Harlots is a saucy and lavish period drama that brilliantly depicts the lives that many young girls had to live in the 18th century. Samantha Morton is absolutely fantastic. After watching her in The Walking Dead recently, it’s great to see her in something that I can like her character in, but her presence on screen is just as strong here. Jessica Brown Findlay is brilliant, too. I’ve always liked her as an actress but don’t often relate to her characters, but it’s so easy to enjoy her role in this.

You can read my full review here.

Harlots (Season Two)

This second season is a brilliant follow up. I didn’t think they could make this any more dramatic but things are getting so interesting! With more murder, sex, rivalry, betrayals, and even a new brothel to contend with, every episode is full of excitement, curiosity and promiscuity, keeping you engaged on every level.

You can read my full review here.

Harlots (Season Three)

The characters are still having a lot of fun with their roles, the costumes are just as glorious, the sharp dialogue continues to be rebellious, and there’s a huge twist that I definitely wasn’t expecting, either.

You can read my full review here.

The Fall (Season One)

Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson both give phenomenal performances and I’m so intrigued to see where this series is going.

You can read my full review here.

The Fall (Season Two)

Another chilling season that slowly builds up more tension as Stella and Paul’s worlds edge closer and closer. This second season didn’t quite grip me as much as the first season as it’s taking a while to get to where we want it to be, but it’s still fronted by two excellent performances that I can’t take my eyes off.

You can read my full review here.

The Fall (Season Three)

This final series definitely didn’t go in the direction that I thought it was going to. The heat dies down without the chemistry between Stella and Paul being at the centre of the story, but it’s an interesting angle to take that adds quite a compelling edge. Still, the final moments are so impacting that you’ll not be left disappointed.

You can read my full review here.

Life (Season One)

Life is a beautifully-written drama that perfectly captures the emotions of real life – the love, the heartache, the fallouts, the friendships, the betrayals, and the simple acts of kindness. We all have good and bad in us and we all make mistakes, and this series shows the emotional rollercoaster of what it is to be human.

You can read my full review here.

ITV

White House Farm (Miniseries)

White House Farm is the definition of a binge-worthy series, ending every episode on a new twist that has you eagerly waiting for the story to continue. And that’s all down to the brilliant writing, performances, and direction, dramatising the horrifying true story exceptionally well.

Usually, I don’t like to binge-watch a TV series. I much prefer scheduling my week around them and having something to look forward to, rather than getting it all over with in one sitting. However, I didn’t want to wait a whole week to find out what would happen next with this series. The story was retold so well and sensitively that I would have stayed awake until the early hours to find out more.

You can read my full review here.

Vera (Season Ten)

I was worried that after the last season, Vera was getting close to retirement. But she’s back with full force in this latest season, and Brenda Blethyn doesn’t appear to be giving up on the determined but often outspoken detective yet. Although on its tenth series, Vera still manages to impress, keeping its team of detectives likeable group with the occasional personal touch, and its investigations remain original and surprising. Brenda Blethyn never fails to entertain, and this will always be a series that I look forward to coming back every year.

You can read my full review here.

Flesh And Blood (Miniseries)

Excellent performances from a great cast, especially Imelda Staunton, and a brilliant balance of engaging family drama and a curious mystery thriller.

Liar (Season Two)

There’s a lot to like about this second season, mostly because it is largely told in flashbacks and gives us some background into both Laura and Andrew’s pasts. I especially enjoyed learning about how Andrew turned into the creep we came to know him as with the introduction of Sam Spruell‘s Oliver, as we needed a reminder of why we wanted him dead with the huge gap in between series, so his story definitely refuels our hate for him. However, I just didn’t like Laura’s character in the end, and quickly grew tired of her whinging.

You can read my full review here.

The Trouble With Maggie Cole (Season One)

An easy-going drama that was enjoyable enough for the hour I had spare every week to try a series I wouldn’t normally bother with. With a light thriller going on alongside the family drama, the series certainly takes a unique angle and successfully keeps you interested, although I wouldn’t say it grips you with any intensity. Dawn French and Mark Heap are both very likeable, though, and there are some great supporting characters, too, all with engaging relationships.

Quiz (Miniseries)

The story of Charles Ingram and the suspicious cough is a story that many of us will remember. And before watching this dramatisation of the event, I was convinced that he had cheated. This series might have just convinced me otherwise, though.

Quiz is a darkly funny and sharp retelling of an unbelievable but very British crime that has so much more to it than you would have initially thought. The faces of Charles and Diane Ingram are etched into our brains, as the series works as an investigation into how they could have got away with this crime, ultimately leaving it up to the viewers to decide if we think that they were capable of getting away with it or not.

You can read my full review here.

The Salisbury Poisonings (Miniseries)

With excellent writing, the series shows a side to the true story that most of us didn’t know much about. We might have seen the odd news story, but there was definitely a lot more going on than what was reported. It’s hard to believe that all of this happened, but it’s great to see the amazing work that was done by all involved.

It doesn’t exactly instil any fear for what would have been a very fearful time for the people of Salisbury, but it does show the personal effect on those involved, having a genuine human touch to the stories that massively affected the lives of many families.

You can read my full review here.

Little Boy Blue (Miniseries)

Another harrowing retelling of a sensitive story. The superb cast tells the heartbreaking story brilliantly, really drawing you into the lives of Rhys’s parents whose lives were changed in the worst possible way. The series is fast-paced but it’s still compelling in its drama. Sinead Keenan and Stephen Graham both give captivating performances, and it’s a story that we should all know the full story about.

You can read my full review here.

Broadchurch (Season One)

I finished watching this series last night after ITV re-aired the series from the very beginning, and I’m still not over that final episode. Even seconds before the reveal, I was saying “No, it won’t be them. It can’t be them.” And then the truth hits you, and it hits you hard.

A raw and heartbreaking murder mystery filled with intrigue, brilliant character development as you get to know every individual character as they all come under question, and excellent writing, Broadchurch is a fully immersive drama that will grip you from the very first episode.

You can read my full review here.

Broadchurch (Season Two)

This was a great follow-up season that follows the case that Hardy mentioned in season one, while also focusing on Miller putting herself back together after the shocking revelations that left us so gripped. Despite tragedy in both of their lives, Tennant and Colman maintain a brilliant chemistry in another investing crime story.

You can read my full review here.

Broadchurch (Season Three)

This was another hard-hitting story that was yet again brilliantly handled. With plenty of great performances and a number of quality additions to the cast, I especially loved how Beth used her experiences to help others.

You can read my full review here.

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies (Miniseries)

Part of ITV’s true-crime series, I’ve seen this series advertised for years, but I didn’t know what the story was about. Not thinking too much into the title, I always assumed that Christopher Jefferies was a serial killer and that the series was an exploration of his crimes, just from Watkin’s appearance alone.

But that’s not the case at all. The series, instead, faces the problem that my prejudices are a part of. Jefferies was vilified by the press because of his eccentric appearance, which led to many turning their backs on him despite his high-class reputation beforehand.

You can read my full review here.

Appropriate Adult (Miniseries)

Another interesting true-crime drama from ITV, seeing the story of Fred and Rose West from an unusual point of view, but one that adds so much insight. I didn’t know about Janet Leach before watching this series, but it’s obvious that she played a pivotal role in encouraging Fred West to give details of his crimes, so for that, she undoubtedly deserves her own TV series.

You can read my full review here.

Des (Miniseries)

David Tennant gives a chilling but utterly phenomenal performance as the real-life serial killer in this gripping true-crime drama. He paints an excellent portrait of the titular character, from his attitude to his mannerisms, which is supported by a confident script that captures the fascinating truth behind the experiences of those involved in the case.

You can read my full review here.

The Sister (Series 1)

An intriguing new thriller with a paranormal twist, The Sister may have lost your interest if it were a longer series spread out in weekly episodes, but as a four-part series that was shown throughout a week, the quick pace and decent performances were enough to keep you watching.

You can read my full review here.

Channel 4

Deadwater Fell (Miniseries)

With a hard-hitting and devastating first episode, Deadwater Fell is a combination of a mystery thriller with a compelling drama. Full of suspicion and speculation, the series is led by a host of talented actors and asks us to question if things are as simple as they seem.

Whilst there’s only really one suspect from the beginning, we begin watching the series by thinking that it can’t be that obvious. And as Tom’s family life slowly starts to unravel and we begin to see the cracks, more suspects begin to be questioned.

You can read my full review here.

Fox

The Walking Dead (Season Ten Part Two)

Review to come.

Channel 5

The Deceived (Season One)

It’s not often that Channel 5 make a series that appeals me, but I like Emmett J Scanlan so I was instantly intrigued. And he’s so good. He’s sexy, mysterious, and very threatening at the same time. Emily Reid is brilliant, too. She plays her character’s vulnerabilities well, confusing audiences as to whether she’s really ill or being manipulated.

You can read my full review here.

Shudder

Cursed Films (Season One)

From the controversy surrounding The Exorcist, a series of unfortunate events that plagued the cast and crew during the making of The Omen, a series of untimely deaths connected to the making of the Poltergeist films, the death of Brandon Lee due to an on-set accident during the making of The Crow, to a horrific on-set accident during the production of Twilight Zone: The Movie, these are all probably things you have made a swift internet search on after viewing the films.

The Exorcist, The Omen, and Poltergeist, especially, are legendary for their spooky tales, which have almost become folklore because of how their historic stories have spread online. But these films were made before the days of social media, memes, and constant “fake news”, when rumours of a haunted set and an evil curse would have much more easily spread fear. Now that everything is on the internet for all to see forever, sometimes the curse of a film is about something more real than ghosts and witches.

You can read my full review here.

Disney+

The Mandalorian (Season One)

If you’re a Star Wars fan, The Mandalorian is a great spin-off to an immensely entertaining saga. It’s not as much of an epic adventure as the films are, but it’s an action-packed space-western that builds on the universe well.

Telling the story of its titular character and his mission, it’s an interesting chapter that draws you into the world of Star Wars even more. With a similar tone to the original films, it feels like a fresh but welcomed throwback rather than an over-hyped reboot.

You can read my full review here.

Other

Kings of Pain (Season One)

I don’t particularly like watching people in pain, but what animals are involved, there’s something very intriguing about how much their bites or stings hurt. Apparently all in the name of science and “to help save lives”, a wildlife biologist and professional animal handler get bit and stung by some of the most dangerous animals and insects in the world to create a complete and comprehensive pain index. It’s intense throughout and stomach-churning at times, but I couldn’t take my eyes off. I really hope there’s another season of this because these guys have definitely caught my attention.

My 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

Over the past couple of years, I have documented every film that I have watched and reviewed them all using Letterboxd. As a way to motivate myself to read more, I thought I would do the same for what books I have been reading, using Goodreads as a way to set myself a reading challenge every year.

I initially set my target as 25 books this year, but a few things happened that meant I reached this goal quite early on. Firstly, I had a baby, so this meant that I was awake at silly hours with plenty of time to read. Then, there was lockdown. Because of lockdown, I decided to join Bookstagram and NetGalley and get more serious about reviewing books. So now, instead of reading two books at most a month, I’ve been reading up to ten.

I upped my goal to 60 around halfway through the year, and still managed to pass that by reaching 74 books. This year has really rekindled my love of books, and I can’t wait to start 2021 with this new passion.

Here’s how my 2020 challenge went:

Continue reading “My 2020 Reading Wrap-Up”

TV Review: The Fall (BBC) – Season One-Three

Created and written by Allan Cubitt, The Fall originally aired from 2013-2016 on BBC and follows Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), who is brought in to assess the progress of a murder investigation that has remained active for longer than 28 days. When it becomes apparent that a serial killer is on the loose, local detectives must work with Stella to find and capture Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), who is attacking young professional women in the city of Belfast.

Continue reading “TV Review: The Fall (BBC) – Season One-Three”

Book Review: Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger

“It’s one thing to steal a recipe but another to steal a grandma. She probably doesn’t even have one anymore. I bet she devoured hers like a praying mantis.”

Published in 2019, Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger sees Esme’s world crumble when she loses her glitzy job on a top TV programme, her gorgeous boyfriend and her stunning London apartment, all in one fell swoop just before Christmas. Forced suddenly to move back to her sleepy home town of Sandchester, everything is looking bleak, despite the snow blanketing the roof and the fairy lights that twinkle in her rustic little cottage. That is until she reconnects with an old crush and finds herself unexpectedly getting swept away. But Joe, handsome and charming as he is, is not all he seems. Esme soon realises that he has a tragic past which he just might not be able to overcome. Surrounded by her loving family and supportive friends, Esme is determined to have a go at forging her own path, even if it all comes to nothing. But one question still lingers in her mind: will she find someone to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Continue reading “Book Review: Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger”

Book Review: A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley

A Perfect Cornish Christmas is a 2019 book by Phillipa Ashley that follows Scarlett and Ellie, two sisters who head to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow after the reveal of a shocking family secret the year before has left the family feeling anything but merry and bright. When Scarlett found out that Ellie was only her half-sister, all she’s wanted since is to find out who her real father is. So she heads to Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further. Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival, but can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year? Or are there more surprises on the way?

Continue reading “Book Review: A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley”

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