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My Best of 2019
The Honour of the Knights : Spanish Edition
My Best of 2018
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Project Starfighter - The game vs the book
Intrepid's Canadian Rockies
My favourite video game couples
A North-South Divide
My Best of 2017Sat, 30th December 2017
Every year, I like to create a list of my favourite books, movies, games, and music. I try to keep the items as current as possible (i.e. from this same year), although that does not always hold true. Below are my top picks of 2017.
Best Book: Behind Her Eyes - Sarah Pinborough
Honourable mentions: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chalmers, HEX - Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Arriving with the hashtag #wtfthatending, Sarah Pinborough delivered a brilliant tale of a woman (Louise) who begins an affair with a married man. Things turn weird when Louise meets Adele, the man's wife, and the two embark on a rather unlikely friendship. What we were treated to was a classic unreliable narrator, and an ending that is close to impossible to guess. The ending stayed with me for a few days after finishing the book, as I considered its twisted (and devious) nature. If you're a fan of twists and turns, you should definitely not let this one pass you by.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was also a very enjoyable book. Some described it as being a roadtrip in space, which is what it felt like. It was full of colorful characters, situations, and was just downright fun. HEX, meanwhile, was one of the most original horror novels I've read in a while. I loved how the witch of Black Spring was something the townspeople weren't afraid of, but something they still took seriously. Some wonderful twists and turns in this one, which an ending I didn't see coming.
Best Album: Astronaut Meets Appleman - King Creosote
Honourable mentions: ÷ - Ed Sheeran, I See You - The XX
This is a case of being late to the party, but I loved King Creosote's Astronaut Meets Appleman. I first began hearing tracks played on 6Music late last year (starting with Surface), and finally decided to pick up the album in 2017. I loved every single track on the album, my favourite being Wake Up To This. Rather amusingly, King Creosote has released more than 40 albums(!), but this is the first time I've heard of him (and I suspect some of you reading this won't have until now, either). The music style is essentially Scottish Folk, with some good use of bagpipes thrown in to the mix (though this don't detract from or spoil the music on this album, at all). If you fancy something different, do yourself a different and pick it up. I'm sure you'll be very surprised.
I also enjoyed Ed Sheeran's latest album, ÷. There isn't one track on the album that I don't like, Shape of You, and New Man are two tracks that stand out. Equally great was the XX's new album, with On Hold, and I Dare You being two awesome tracks from there.
Best Song: Put Your Money on Me - Arcade Fire
Honourable mentions: The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness - The National, Heather - Saint Etienne
There were a lot of great songs released this year, so pinning one single tune down was exceptionally hard. In the end, it was Put Your Money on Me my Arcade Fire that made me sit up and listen the most. I loved hearing it each time it came on the radio, and had to grab myself a copy. I'm not great at describing music; I tend to just know what I like and go for it. The melody and composition of Put Your Money on Me ticks all of those boxes.
I equally enjoyed the lead single from The National's new album, as well as the lead from Saint Etienne's, the latter of which I found incredibly spooky. It's the sort of thing that wouldn't be at all out of place playing over the end credits to a horror film, after everything has gone terribly wrong.
Best Film: Logan
Honourable mentions: It Follows, Kingsman
Logan was one of the best superhero films I've watched in a long time. It was a great send off for Wolverine and made up for the very lacklustre The Wolverine that preceded it. Logan is definitely the best of the Wolverine trilogy and also an incredible movie in its own right. The characters and situations were believable, and the violence and dark tone of the movie only added to that. I highly recommend this film, especially if you found the other Wolverine films lacking.
I don't scare too easily at horror films these days; blood and gore don't bother me and I find jump scares to just be cheap. However, It Follows is one of the scariest films I've seen in years. The whole idea of being pursued relentlessly by an unknown entity that only certain people (i.e., it's victims and targets) can see was terrifying. That the entity didn't just adhere to some cliche that it "only appears at night" helped to create a sense of sustained threat throughout. Catch this one too, if you haven't seen it.
I was late to learning about Kingsman, only discovering it on Netflix this year and having heard that it was worth watching. It did what it intended to and delivered a fun spy movie, with all the gadgets and over-the-top fight scenes that used to be the domain of James Bond.
(in case you're wondering, yes, I was ultimately left rather disappointed by Last Jedi.)
Best Game: Horizon : Zero Dawn
Honourable mentions: Life is Strange, Resident Evil VII
Of all the games I played in 2017, Horizon : Zero Dawn is, without doubt, one of the most original concepts I have experienced for a long time, and oh, was it so much fun. Taking on the role of Aloy, an outcast in a world ruled over by machines, and where the human race now lives in somewhat primitive tribes, the player is tasked with discovering exactly what has happened to the planet, and how the machines came to be the dominant force. The world is vast and fun to explore, the gameplay tight, and Aloy is a wonderful character (she's also voiced by Ashly Burch, who delivers a solid performance throughout). There are so many ways to play the game and overcome encounters, that everyone will enjoy having their own unique take on things.
A very close second for me is Life is Strange. When Sony gave this game away free to PSN Plus users, I decided to give it a try; I'd heard it was good, and had a great cult following. The game centres around a teenage girl called Max Caulfield, who discovers she has the ability to rewind time. Soon after, she is reunited with her best friend Chloe Price, whom she hasn't seen for a number of years. The two spend much time catching up with one another, and Max begins to help Chloe in her search for her missing friend Rachel Amber. What followed was one of the most emotional roller coaster of a game I have ever experienced; I honestly don't believe that I will ever experience something like this ever again and am so glad I got the chance to play it. It was a game that might have otherwise passed me by. The developers did an absolutely incredible job of making you feel close to Max and Chloe, and sharing in their lives. I highly recommend this one, too (just don't read up about it ahead of time..!).
Resident Evil 7 meanwhile proved to an unexpected surprise. I had heard the game was good, but wasn't prepared for the sheer terror that it would invoke. Far from the over-the-top action games of the recent entries in the series, RE7 was genuinely terrifying, invoking a sense of danger and dread the whole way through. Some great plot twists and unpredictable moments ensured that this become for me one of the greatest Resident Evil games ever made.
(both Horizon: Zero Dawn and Life is Strange are two of my favourite games of all time)
My Best of 2019
My Best of 2018
My Best of 2016
My Best of 2015