Happy new year! As is often the case, there is a feeling of expectation for a new year even if the passage of time is constant. We mark time and moments to achieve a sense of order, and if viewed through the right lens, we can appreciate the time given to us. I hope that 2022 brings each of you a sense of fulfilment in whatever shape that may take. Remember deep breaths and enjoy the ride.
A review of 2021 marked the re-boot of my blog, and I hope to continue with my reviews while having the opportunity to share some of my original work and manuscripts that I have in the pipeline. As a writer, the challenge of balancing my blog, manuscripts, day job, and parenthood is an ongoing juggling act. I look forward to continue this writing journey and diving into this slice of life we have on our little blue dot.
For now, I would like to share my top 5s for 2021 in each category I blogged about. Please keep in mind this is based on my published reviews for 2021 (NOT the top 5 of all time in each category).
- The Wife and the Widow by Christian White – atmospheric mystery story that had me reeling in its cleverness and filled me with envy that White could write in this way.
- Thunderhead (Book 2 of Arc of a Scythe Series) by Neal Shusterman – very rarely do second books in a trilogy exceed the first or final books in the series. Shusterman does just that with Thunderhead.
- The Promise Seed by Cass Moriarty – a gem of a novel that captures youth and age. The two main characters develop a bond even though their differences (on the surface) seem to be many.
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – magic is real! The night circus actually feels a part of you by the time you turn the last page.
- The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth – the only non-fiction book that made my top 5 for 2021, Forsyth is a master of breaking down the effectiveness of English rhetoric in what could have been a dry topic, but he makes fascinating and funny. A must for any writer’s toolkit.
- Free Guy – this was the surprise flick for 2021 for me. Ryan Reynolds has long been typecast and it is no different really in Free Guy, but the concept and story combined with awesome CGI had me laughing and feeling inspired in equal measure. Deserves repeat viewing.
- Wolfwalkers – ecstatic that I stumbled on this movie on Apple+ TV. An animated film that captures Irish folklore and imagery with such colour and beauty that every frame has been crafted with love and care.
- The Half of It – the relationship triangle depicted in this film is a wonderful coming-of-age comedy drama that surprised me with how emotionally effecting it was.
- Nobody – the ending went a bit silly but the build up, and the scene on the bus were beyond brilliant. That alone was worth the price of admission.
- Cruella – Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are so good that you could remove every other character in this film and still be riveted.
(honourable mention: The Last Duel – I almost put this in the top 5 over Cruella. Clever story telling, action sequences are brutal and real, and the characters are flawed and interesting)
- Cowboy Bebop – the ultimate sci-fi soap opera that has stood the test of time with the best killer jazz/blues soundtrack ever.
- Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai – ending goes a bit overboard on the emo, but the tale of a group of childhood friends and how they drift apart (due to an incident) but come back together is both uplifting and heart wrenching.
- Tonari no Totoro – Miyazaki masterpiece **microphone dropped**
- Haikyuu!! Season 1 – this anime series will inspire you to play volleyball, or at least inspire you to follow your passions.
- Usagi Drop – slice of life gem of an anime where the child teaches the adult as much as the adult teaches the child about what it means to live life.
(honourable mentions: I could have listed other Miyazaki movies that I published reviews on – Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Laputa: Castle in the Sky – but that would have been a very boring list)