Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: Year In Review

2014 is now behind us; it’s been a bit up and down with various drama llamas hitting us in the summer, but we’ve still managed to get through almost 230 books this year (bringing our total to over 850 - how much over I don’t know and am not nearly drunk enough to count) - and have now covered over 80 shows along with films, the odd computer game and a whole lot of Friday Discussions. I’m sometimes stunned by how much Fangs has grown - and also vaguely aware we need to find some way to get drop down menus on this site.

Anyway, with the New Year it’s time to digest what passed!


What were you Top 3 series/books you read this year?
In the interest of not being repetitive, I’m going to say that any book series that I praised the last 2 years continued to be awesome this year. None have crashed on me, they’re still my precious. I love these authors and they’d dominate this top-3 list year after year effortlessly

With that said, I am truly horrified with myself for not lavishing embarrassing amounts of gloopy praise over everything Ilona Andrews has ever written; including Magic Breaks this year. Mea Culpa, this series has deserved a mention a lot earlier than this. Second I’ll mention the awesome Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison because it PERFECTLY ended this awesome series (though I am still grieving). I have so many candidates for the third slot but I’m going to go with Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain because it was SO MUCH FUN!

What book(s) pleasantly surprised you?
I’m going to go with Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series here simply because it has completely validated my stubborn refusal not to give up on a series. When we read the first book in this series, The Iron Duke there were problems, terrible, rapey problems. My expectations plummeted… and then I read the rest of the series which are now some of my all time favourite books AND surprisingly social justice aware on several axis.

I’m also going to mention The Others series by Anne Bishop here - because I loved and adored these books (if I had more room above, I’d include them) because I went into this series expecting the worst - I’d heard terrible terrible things about her other series...

What was your favourite Television series this year?
The Stahma show! Aka Defiance. In depth storylines, excellent characters and Stahma just being so amazingly perfect every single episode that I started grinning like a fool every time her perfect self came on screen. Hail Stahma!

Since I think we’ve mentioned Defiance before, I’m also going to go with Penny Dreadful for surprises, utterly gorgeous gothic imagery and the best scenery chewing I’ve ever seen.

What was the worst thing you read this year?
Choices, choices. It’s hard for anything to beat The Last Werewolf since it has the line: “Her asshole, for example. It’s like a stern coquettish spoiled secretary working for Himmler-“

That’s setting records of terrible. But then there’s Faefever’s awful depiction of rape - the only thing more cringeworthy than the depiction is the number of fans drooling over Barrons.

But I’m going to go with the Vampire Chronicles series because I’ve read the entire series this year and I suffered. Oh how I suffered. The terrible depiction of LGBT people, the racist happy-dappy slaves, the endless paedophilia and incest all to a background of the most impenetrable, awful prose, complete lack of plot and agonisingly melodramatic characters. There is a circle of hell where people have to read this series and they BEG to be allowed to push the damn boulder up the hill.

What was the worst thing you watched this year?
Da Vinci’s Demons, because I will never ever NOT be pissed about Da Vinci’s Demons. Beauty and the Beast probably takes the prize - when it went on hiatus and then came back (and by some demonic sorcery was actually renewed) I had so little interest in keeping up with the vapid shredded cannon of this show that I just couldn’t bring myself to pick it up again. Not even for the joy of watching Sendhil Ramamurthy.

Stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done: Shows that need to be cancelled:
The Vampire Diaries. Good gods, let it die! The only relevant plot lines on this show revolve around Bonnie and she’s continually sidelined - give her a spin off and let the endlessly dull, repetitive and self-absorbed trainwreck that is Elena’s extended love life just die already please.

What was this year’s guilty pleasure? Which book/series are you embarrassed to admit you liked?
Supernatural and The Dresden Files both hold spots as things I’m embarassed to say I love so much (though Supernatural is rapidly expending my patience). Both of them are epic Friday Discussion fodder but they bring me endless joy.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year:
Constantine and not just because of the straight washing (for the sake of rainbows and pride, can someone please keep Goyer away from established LGBT personages already!) but because I think it had an interesting concept, a decent cast and some nice gritty material and it has only occasionally come close to reaching its potential. Now I fear it’s too little too late - I wanted to love this show, I tried so hard to love this show.

Were your expectations for 2014 met?
Nope, which is kind of sad. I look back at last years post and I’m all enthusiastic about Helix, Bitten, Dominion and The Strain none of which I particularly enjoyed. There’s only really Penny Dreadful that actually turned out to be something decent. The spin off shows never happened

Diversitywise my expectations also weren’t met in many ways. We saw shows with main POC be cancelled: Almost Human and Being Human (US) while Sleepy Hollow greatly de-emphasised it’s POC. In terms of new shows, only Z Nation, From Dusk Till Dawn and, at an extreme push, Helix has POC in anything like similarly dominant roles.

On the LGBT front I’m doubly annoyed because this has been the year of the media tease - behind the camera we’ve had slashbaiting, and comments from show creators about The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf and several films we haven’t followed (Expendables, How to Train your Dragon and, yes, Dumbledore yet again) bigging up minimal inclusion. In front of the camera we’ve had so many teeny tokens that are weirdly praised in the media (Vampire Diaries is being mentioned. Vampire Diaries).

We may be talking about diversity more - but it seems that the discussion has turned into selling the same empty tokens but with more hype and praise.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?
The obvious awesomeness goes without saying - Penny Dreadful, Orphan Black. But I’m also looking forward to the return of Helix since the story has shifted so much it could be a very different show. Ilona Andrews has a new series coming as well which I really can’t wait for

I’d also like to see if any of those spin offs are actually going to happen! New series I’m eager for are Olympus (Greek mythology? SOLD!) and Izombie (which sounds nifty).

Most of all I am not so much looking forward to as demanding - diversity is entering more and more of our discourse in both publishing and media - so it’s time for some substantive change. And that doesn’t mean talking up your tokens to convince everyone that you’re super progressive because recurring minor character #976956 is a minority.


What were you Top 3 series/books you read this year?

Wow, I read so much this year that it’s hard to choose.  I do however think that my favourite series were The Others by Anne Bishop, the Kara Gillian series by Diana Rowland and of course, The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.  With each new book, these series kept me late at night promising to go to bed after reading just one more chapter.  Of the three, I would have to say that my favorite was Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop.  I simply love the world she created and found myself walking around saying, “the Meg” for days after I finished reading this book.  My only disappointment is that Bishop seems to only release one book in this series a year, which is not nearly enough.

What book(s) pleasantly surprised you?

I would have to say that it’s A Witch With no Name by Kim Harrison. The Hollow series has always been excellent but I really didn’t like the portrayal of Rachel in Dead Pool and was greatly concerned that the essence of who she was would be lost due to her budding relationship to Trent.  I was so pleased that not only did Harrison dial this back and give us a Rachel who wasn’t overly obsessed with Trent, she neatly wrapped up the storylines of all of the side characters.  I am truly sad that The Hollows is at an end though, while other less enjoyable series continue on.

What was your favourite television series this year? would think this would be easy because of the amount of sheer drek we have been subjected to this year but it’s not. I suppose I am going to have to go with the old standby of Game of Thrones.  The acting is always superb and the staging is wonderful.  This is not to say that Game of Thrones didn’t have its problems like the unacknowledged rape of Cersei by Jamie.  That aside, it produced the most attention grabbing season finale of all of the shows we watched and left me instantly wanting more. Finally, who doesn’t get excited when they hear the theme song to Game of Thrones?  

What was the worst thing you read this year?

So much drek, so little time.  Zombie Fallout 2: A Plague Upon Your Family (Zombie Fallout #2) by Mark Tufo is certainly high on the list.  In fact, this entire series should come with a do not read label due to sheer offensiveness and puerile humour.  The protagonist is the worst sort of Gary Stu whom everyone follows without explanation.  This is a book that you should never borrow from the library lest your library card stage or a revolt, let alone pay so much as one penny for.  

Last God Standing by Michael Boatman, also deserves an honourable mention.  I still cannot tell you what this book is about.  Yes, yes, I know that Gods have taken human form and are fighting against each other but beyond that this story goes absolutely nowhere.  There isn’t even a single likable character and Boatman seems to love using homophobia as the basis of his jokes.  It’s the kind of book that makes you scratch your head and wonder how many trees died for this drek to be produced.

What was the worst thing you watched all year?

There is only one answer to this question: American Horror Story.  Every week since this show started airing, I wait to either be offended or outright enraged. American Horror Story: Coven was certainly no different. We had Queenie who compulsively ate, ‘cause that’s what fat people do don’t you know.  She was also the only virgin, that is until she had sex with a freaking minotaur.  American Horror Story: Coven even gave us the storyline of the killer vagina. For a show all about strong female characters, American Horror Story Coven sure seemed to embrace misogyny.

Stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done: Shows that need to be cancelled:
Can I only pick one?  There are a few things that really need to be cancelled.  For instance, why oh why is  Continuum still on the air?  This show didn’t make sense in the first season and only got worse as it went on.  It needs a mercy killing already.  Then, there is Dusk till Dawn. I will admit that I hated the movie that this show is based on and so it never really had a chance with me; however, I didn’t expect to hate it as much as I do.  It’s absolutely torture to sit through an episode.  There isn’t a single likeable character and it doesn’t feel like the plot is going anywhere.  Dusk Till Dawn is simply violence for the sake of violence.

What was this year’s guilty pleasure? Which book/series are you embarrassed to admit you liked?

Yes, I am going to say True Blood.  I know this season was a hot mess but I still got excited every Sunday at 9pm and would sing along with the theme song. I know the best days were behind True Blood by the time this final season started but I still loved it and well, who could blame me, with all of the eye candy?  Boo and hiss if you like but I shall simply answer you with, Ryan Kwanten (of course with a gag ‘cause Jason is annoying as all get out) and Alexander Skarsgård.

Biggest disappointment of the year?

This is a tough one to admit, largely because I used to be a huge Anne Rice fan.  I think the issue is that when I read her vampire chronicles years ago, I was a much younger woman and there certainly weren’t many options in the genre.  It was with much eagerness that I picked up Prince Lestat, only to find that I couldn’t wait for the damn book to finish.  I didn’t remember her purple prose and just how damn long winded Rice is.  Prince Lestat simply didn’t go anywhere and it caused me to stop my fond remembrance of this series which first introduced me to this genre.

Were expectations met in 2014?

To that I would have to answer a qualified yes.  After consuming so many books and watching so many television shows and movies I have come to expect either bad representation or outright erasure in this genre.  At this point, I simply have lowered my expectations.  Nothing would please me more than to see more marginalized characters with fully fleshed out storylines but I fear we are a long way from that.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?
I would have to say that I am looking forward to Olympus.  I have always been a huge mythology geek and since the cancellation of The Almighty Johnsons, there has been nothing on television to fill this void.  I only hope that it is worth all of the anticipation.  

Overall my expectations for this genre will remain low; however, I am still hopeful.  If we can read about zombies, vampires, etc., then surely there is room for a multitude of marginalized characters all telling different stories.