I always start a new year intending to track my books on Goodreads and remember which films I watched. It never lasts long. So I decided I’d try to do a monthly roundup on here instead, covering off my writing, reading and TV watching habits.

Also, since 2017 was a pretty good year for representation, I want to highlight not just if I’m represented anymore, but how good it actually is. (I’m side-eyeing you, Star Trek Discovery…)

Writing

I’ve mostly been editing my tentatively titled work in progress THE CURSED HEIR, so wordcounts aren’t much help. I’m as likely to chop words as to add them, despite my tendency to scatter notes like ‘add fight scene here’ or ‘some description might be good’. But it’s been a good month, with an average of five hours writing a day. I’m still on track to have a ‘finished’ (hah) draft ready to show my agent so I’m happy.

I also got distracted playing with Pinterest. I’d made boards for The Goddess of the North, but I hadn’t for my early drafts of The Cursed Heir. I think it’s helped me to pin down some details in my mind.

Books

I read a lot this month, but it was mostly ARC’s or books I’ve had on my Kindle forever. So rep-wise it’s just the one. I tore through When Dimple Met Rishi. A cute YA Indian-American rom-com. While America is pretty different to England, there were some relatable moments in this which made it a pleasure to read.

I got an ARC for Red Rising which was enjoyable enough I grabbed the next two and zipped through them. I also got an ARC for The Belles, which I had a lot of time for – review here. I saw people on my twitter timeline discussing Frederica and how it was a steal at 99p, so I tried it. An enjoyable, fun offering from Georgette Heyer.

A Darker Shade of Magic was an interesting read. I enjoyed it but found myself wanting more world building and more from the main characters than I got. Lots of say about Kell’s magic though, so I might have to pick up the next in the series.

Finally, I found The Case of Six Watsons on my kindle. I don’t remember buying it, but I was without wifi and needed a book so I tried it. Six short stories, classic Sherlock Holmes with a few twists, it was a nice quick read.

Films

Failed to see any south Asian rep in my movies. No surprise, it’s a rarity. That said both Thor and Coco benefited from the diverse cast and crew. I did start the year well, re-watching Moon to share it with my partner.  Absolute modern classic and got us ready for Mute, released in February.

Thor Ragnarok was a thrilling surprise. I am not a fan of the Thor films in general, they’re a little too serious and plodding, but Taika Waititi made such a smart film hidden within a superhero gem, it’s hard not to love it. Hela ripping into Odin for hiding their bloody history, asking where all their riches came from? Considering forty-four percent of people in the UK think the empire was a good thing, I found those lines entirely relatable.  Plus after bemoaning the waste of Idris Elba in the past, Heimdall finally contributed to the story. Perfect.

Odin and I drowned entire civilizations in blood and tears. Where do you think all this gold came from? And then one day he decided to become a benevolent king. To foster peace, to protect life.

Coco was a delight. I’m not usually into musicals nor every Pixar, so this was a good surprise. The songs were lovely, the plot fantastic and the visuals bright and beautiful.

TV

TV is where diversity is really shining, and the best series for me in January was The Magicians. Episode one of season three had five south Asian actors. Two main cast, two recurring and one special guest for that episode. Not because it was an episode about race, or being Indian, or any particular reason. It works so well and has such a fond place in my heart for the casting alone.

That said, the writing is still fantastic. The characters are once more tested non-stop, this time by the fact their killing of a god in the last season finale means magic has been ‘switched off’. Alice is chased by the creatures she hurt while a niffin, High Queen Margo is still fighting against the Fairy Queen. Penny is incredibly sick due to his actions which leaves Eliot as the one to step up when The Great Cock of the Darkling Woods sends him on a quest.

As someone born in 1902, I find a heterosexual white male hero very relatable.

Dark and irrelevant and funny, The Magicians unashamedly tackles big subjects such as mental illness, sexual assault and suicide. But one of the reasons I enjoy the show is that it’s not shown then forgotten and episode or so later, it is never brushed aside. The show opens in season one with Quentin self-admitted to hospital for his depression and it is still a key part of him in season three.

Man Like Mobeen was an iPlayer watch. I recognised the lead actor Guz Khan as the guy from the viral Youtube calling for Jurassic Park to be boycotted because the pachycephalosaurus dinosaur (“pachy”) sounded like a slur.

Man Like Mobeen carries on with that brand of humour. Set in Birmingham, which is unusual enough, the lead is a bearded muslim guy and it has the ability to turn racial profiling into smart humour. When Mobeen’s friend runs away from a policeman, the officer asks why.

“If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because he’s black. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this thing called ‘history’, officer, but these kind of situations rarely work out well for the black man.”

The Indian Detective was a nice surprise from Netflix. A four episode mini-series that had an Indian Canadian policeman head to Mumbai to visit his family. Once there, he’s embroiled in a mystery that’s continually escalating. A fun series that I hope gets more episodes/seasons.

I tend to stream on my second monitor when not writing, so I’ve burned through a few series this month. The latest season of Inside No. 9 was one of those. That was a mistake though, so it’s always so compelling and wonderful, I never get anything done. Beautiful season, especially the first episode which was in essence a weird modern Shakespearean comedy written entirely in iambic pentameter. Sheer brilliance.

I watched Preacher 1 (in 2017) & 2 in Jan with my partner, who’d only seen some bad adverts, so the actual show was a bit of a treat. Looking forward to season 3 and Tulip being the best (and alive). We also watched Crazyhead, which I’d missed when it was shown on TV. It’s a shame it only got one season, I could see the potential of it!

Also on Netflix was Black Mirror season 4. A slightly softer season, overall, I felt, with some good heartwarming endings, a few standout episodes – the first USS Callister, the lovely Hang the DJ, the someone stop Boston Dynamics now Metalhead and the final episode Black Museum that tied a lot of the earlier episodes in nicely. Letitia Wright stole the whole season with her nuanced turn.

For a docu-drama – Netflix’s Mars was a nice surprise. A mix of current technology and science fact mixed in with dramatic scenes of possible future exploration and colonisation. It’s obviously as hopeful as it is scientific but a little hope for the future is never a bad thing.

Star Trek Discovery and The Good Place were both ongoing & I’ll mention them next month. I want to see the finale to ST:D before I decide how I feel.

It’s been a very full January – from a fun New Years party to a friend’s birthday event at a local casino. Despite that I’ve written almost every day so this counts as a great start to the year!

(Yes I’m posting this late and backdating. Yes, I’ll probably do that again for other months. Oh well.)

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