What You Have Been Reading – The Top 10 posts of 2016

Christmas and New Year plays odd tricks with you.  First day back at work yesterday and on journey home it seemed as if the festive season was ages ago.  I was surprised to still see the twinkling lights from the bus and even more so when I got home to see the Christmas tree and decorations all up.  It only takes a couple of days of the New Year to get us all moving on………..

But before I crack on fully with 2017 I want to take just one more retrospective look at 2016.  Personally it was pretty momentous.  At the start of the year I was getting myself prepared for a 10th season at my guest house on the Isle of Wight.  Well, since then, books have taken over.  Following months of uncertainty the guest house has been sold and I have moved to a new house in the same town and have begun working with books (as well as being surrounded by them at home) working within the Isle Of Wight Library Service.  The reviews, interviews and magazine assignments have kept coming and at the times of upheaval, of not knowing where I would be living, of winding the business up, of dealing with the loss of close family members reading has very much kept me sane.  If insanity was threatened it was due to BT Open Reach and EE my internet providers who took forever between them to get me a phone line and internet access – but that’s all sorted now and after a few years of feeling life was on a bit of a plateau 2017 feels a very positive change of year.

I’m delighted with the way reviewsrevues.com has gone from strength to strength (despite erratic postings towards the end of the year- thanks again for making this so difficult, BT).  In fact compared to last year there has been an astonishing 76% rise in traffic on the site.  That’s thanks to you all reading this.  Let’s finish 2016 off with a countdown of your ten most read of the 158 posts I published during the year. Just click on the links to revisit the full reviews.

10. The Author Strikes Back- Benita Jayne – Author of “Sacred Crystal Pyramid”and old school chum makes it into the Top 10 with our interview held back in July

9. The Author Strikes Back – Chris Whitaker – The most read of the author interviews I’ve published on here this year.  Chris had to put up with me interviewing him twice, once for here and once for the Nudge site.  He was charming both times.

8. Tall Oaks – Chris Whitaker Showing that the author interviews drive traffic to the original review.  Chris’ crime debut was also a hit on Nudge which has led to a nomination for the Book Noir book of the year.  If you enjoyed his book you can register your appreciation here.

7. The Evenings – Gerard Reve– I had quite a lot of reservations about this book which I reviewed in October but the review of this Dutch translation has attracted a lot of attention.

6. The Rovers – Sky 1 football themed comedy with Craig Cash and Sue Johnston.  This was funny and attracted enough reads on here to suggest a second series is a serious proposition.

5. Giles Coren: My Failed Novel – Sky Arts one-off programme on the perils for a first-time novelist.  A real eye-opener.

4. Make! Craft Britain – Another one-off programme, this time on BBC4.  There’s a lot of crafters out there (and yes I did finish making my Clanger)

3. Lets Groove- The Best Of Earth Wind & Fire– I actually posted this in October 2015 but the lasting legacy of this group and the sad passing of Maurice White (one of the seemingly vast number of celebrities who were imporant to me who died in 2016) has ensured that this has had high readership figures throughout the year.

2. Scott and Bailey – ITV series.  People seemed to be facing up to the disappointment of there being apparently no more by reading about it.  I’ll say it again…  I love Scott and Bailey.

 

 

1.The Level – ITV.  My review of this appeared after the first episode at the start of October.  I moved not long after and lost track of reviewsrevues for a time.  I was astonished to see that views for this had gone through the roof whilst I was doing other things and it is the most read review  on here by a clear mile.  Over 1300 views ahead of the number 2 read.  The series started promisingly but lost its way a little at times but the readers keep coming.  There’s certainly a lot of interest in this series, ITV, if you are thinking of recommissioning or looking towards overseas sales.

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Right. that’s enough 2016.  Let’s get on with 2017!

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Make! Craft Britain (BBC4 2016) – A What I’ve Been Watching Review

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In the week leading up to one of my scheduled TV reviews I’m on the look-out for new  or one -off programmes  to write about.  I can usually make up my mind quite quickly on what is going to receive my attention but this week has seen my indecision causing a number of watched programmes to languish in my Sky Planner in case they need re-viewing for reviewing (see what I did there?)

I thought I might write about “Paul O Grady’s 100 Years Of Movie Musicals” (More 4) in which there was a valiant attempt to cram a century into a hundred minutes in a format that seemed rushed and ultimately a little unsatisfying. “24 Hours In Police Custody” (Channel 4) continues its run as one of the best programmes on TV because of its jaw-dropping access and story-telling with this week’s unsavoury episode “In Plain Sight” appropriately recalling the book of the same name about Jimmy Savile as it related two disturbing tales of paedophilia in Luton.  There were also two new series worthy of consideration, “Outcast” (Fox) which was incredibly dark (not dark in the sense of the latest series of “Game Of Thrones” as in “Put a bloody light on!” dark but dark in the sense of exorcisms in small-town America starring Brit Philip Glenister) and Anthony Horowitz wrote a very promising opening episode of a fast-paced BBC1 series “New Blood” which was full of likeable performances and much potential.

However, late Thursday night, after a stressful day I viewed the one-off BBC4 showing from 9pm – “Make! Craft Britain” not the snappiest of titles but an hour of surprisingly good television.  Presented by Martha Kearney who told us were are in the midst of a huge growth in crafting and that we are keen to relearn skills that the previous generation had at their fingertips.  To prove this Martha sat with her crafting mother who had made a beautiful quilt for her some years back which was obviously such a cherished possession for them in terms of the item itself and what is said about their relationship.  From colouring books (sales of which have provided the book market as a whole with greater buoyancy) to gadgets used to produce pom-poms we are spending money on craft materials.craftbritain

Martha Kearney

I am not a crafter but my partner is- just a few feet from me as I write this there is a spread out patchwork quilt which seems to be growing alarmingly with new hexagonal pieces being added.  I attend a monthly craft group but really just to make the tea and cake but the ladies have taught me how to knit, initially for a charity item but I’ve gone on to make a bobble hat and am three-quarters of the way making one of BBCTV’s “The Clangers”  I am around craft and it is actually fascinating watching the ladies of the craft group work- the range of skills and the choices made and the satisfaction of seeing something through to completion.

A bobble hat I made earlier     This is what my clanger should look like

In “Make! Craft Britain” we visited two craft sessions with participants with a range of expertise from none at all to seasoned makers.  We alternated between a lampshade embroidery group in Lealholm in Yorkshire and a paper-cutting group on London and it was fascinating stuff.  You could sense the enthusiasm, the concentration, the decision-making and ultimately the thrill of crafting.  This would have beneficial effects on the viewer at home.  This was a one-off programme but  I could see a series here.  There’s always great feedback for the occasional “Slow TV” BBC programmes of sledges going through snow or railway journeys but I could happily watch a mixed group of people wielding a scalpel onto a piece of photocopy paper.  There was none of the frenetic rush to the fabric store and race against time of “Great British Sewing Bee” and no competitive element so no need for presenter or judges.  People just did what they were told, made their own choices and were delighted by the results.  I think we need more television like this.  The BBC needs to see the potential of this little gem of an idea and act upon it.  It would be cheap enough!  It was both relaxing and inspiring.  I slept very well after watching it.

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Rightly proud of their paper-cutting!

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Make! Craft Britain was shown on BBC4 on Thursday 9th June at 9pm.  It is available for catch-up on the BBC I-Player.