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A Few of My Favorite Things in 2019

I'm mainly looking forward to 2020 for a somewhat stupid reason: the year itself looks and sounds cool. I briefly mentioned this in a previous post, but “2020” evokes futuristic stuff in my head. Time travelers. Flying cars. Hoverboards. Alien invasions and various and sundry other apocalypses (okay, maybe those aren't exactly appealing). I can't name any off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are a gazillion sci-fi works from the 20th century that picked 2020-something as “the future.”

The future is tomorrow. Not today. Today still has that boring “19” in it. “2019” doesn't look nearly as exciting. No time travelers would bother living in 2019; they'd all skip ahead to the 2020's and then travel back from then so that they could say they came from a better-sounding year.

Is there a point to all this rambling? Of course not, you Philistine; what do you take me for? It does, however, lead me into my discussion of the stuff from 2019 that was cool. One of my not-resolutions for 2020 is to start being more faithful about reviewing stuff on a regular basis; both books and other media. I meant to do that this year, but like so many other things I meant to do this year, it didn't happen. So I'm going to select some things at random to talk about in these few short hours before 2019 draws to a close.

Note: This is not a “top ten” or top-any-other-number list. There's no hierarchy whatsoever here; I'm probably forgetting 2019 stuff that was even more exciting than what I'm going to mention. Either that, or I haven't read/seen it yet. I'm just touching on the things that really stand out in my mind on this last day of the year. (I did recently go into more detail about my favorite books of the year with Paul Regnier on The Christian Speculative Fiction podcast, if you want to check that out.) Also, some of the things I will be talking about are things that I have written, because this is my blog and I can talk about whatever I want. Finally, some of this stuff was released before 2019; I'm only including it all here because I finally got around to reading it (watching it, whatever) this year.

Books

Strange Waters: This is both something I wrote and did not write, since it's a Phoenix Fiction Writers anthology with one of my stories in it. Contributing to it and reading the other stories in it where definitely highlights of the year for me.

The Eye of the World: I recently finished the first book in the Wheel of Time series after having heard some of my favorite BookTubers recommend it, and I'm looking forward to continuing the story.

The First of Shadows: The Riven Realm series by Deck Matthews is another recent discovery for me. Excellent dark fantasy.

Beast in the Machine: This short-ish book by E.B. Dawson was definitely one of my favorite 2019 reads. Superb adaptation of Beauty and the Beast in a sci-fi context.

Oath of the Outcast: Expertly-written fantasy from Claire Banschbach with fun, engaging character dynamics.

Romanov: The first book I've read from Nadine Brandes. It's an enthralling low-fantasy take on the fall of the Romanov dynasty which manages to do justice to the historical events and satisfy fans of the not-Disney movie.

Deadwood: Time for one of mine. This book had me pretty stressed out by the time I was ready to release it, since I wasn't sure how well it would go over, but it became my best-received title so far. That experience was extremely rewarding. Plus, I'm very happy with how the cover turned out.

Hollow: Another somewhat risky project for me this year, but it was ultimately successful as well. I'm pleased with the final result, especially since it sets the stage for some big events that will be happening in my books in 2019.

Audiobooks and Audio Dramas

A Damsel in Distress: I had never read this P.G. Wodehouse book before, but since the audiobook is narrated by Jonathan Cecil (really the only narrator who has ever done justice to Wodehouse's work), I was eager to give it a try. I wasn't disappointed. Not only is this story hilarious, the plotting and characterization are top-notch.

The Diary of River Song, Series 5: A Doctor Who audio drama from Big Finish productions in which River Song meets four incarnations of the Master, including Missy. “Shut up and take my money” about sums it up. This was just as good as I'd hoped it would be–better, in fact.

Missy, Series 1: An entire audio series with Missy as the main character. See above. Also incredible.

Doctor Who: The Legacy of Time: An epic celebration of twenty years of Doctor Who on audio. Ticks all the right boxes and blends the classic and new-series eras of the show brilliantly.

Doctor Who: Ravenous 4: A multi-Master story isn't the only thing to recommend this boxset; it's also a perfect finale to story arcs that have been woven through the Ravenous series as a whole.

The War Master: Anti-Genesis: Not only a very clever twist on an old Doctor Who concept, but an amazing villain/anti-hero story in general. (If all this Doctor Who stuff is confusing you, look for a detailed post from me on where to start with Big Finish audio dramas in the near future.)

Horseman: I couldn't be happier with Kieran Flitton's amazing narration of the first Crockett and Crane book, and I'm excited to work with him again on Book 2 in the very near future.

The Beast of Talesend: Joel and Adam Daffurn did a spectacular job narrating and producing (respectively) my debut novel. I'm very pleased with this adaptation.

The Janus Elixir: Donald Pirie brought all of the Scottish haughtiness required for Malcolm Blackfire to this audiobook. I love what he did with the story.

The Last Days of Lady Cordelia: It was truly a blessing that I came across Kim Bretton's demo reels and invited her to narrate this story, because she was definitely the perfect choice. All her voice work was spot-on.

Comics

Amazing Spider-Man: The recent run of Amazing Spider-Man by Nick Spencer really surprised me, given that I've never been a fan of Spencer's writing in the past. For once, he's produced something that's doesn't feature a heavy dose of irritating politics. Plus, he takes the character back to his roots in more ways than one. I have yet to catch up on this series, but I'm loving it so far.

Chironicles: Me again. This was sort of a “surprise” project, both for me and my readers, since I never really planned to start a webcomic. This began as some funny tweets; then a Discord conversation with my friends in Phoenix Fiction Writers inspired me to turn it into something more. So blame them. Or just blame me, because I'm ultimately responsible and I'm not remotely sorry.

Movies

Avengers Endgame: It's not perfect, but in terms of bringing a satisfying conclusion to years of cinematic enjoyment, it definitely worked for me. Completely worth one of my rare trips to the movie theater.

Aladdin (2019): I love this movie and I'm not sorry.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Finally got around to watching it this year, and it actually would have been worth one of my rare trips to the movie theater if I'd gone to see it in 2018. Probably the best movie I saw all year.

I wish I could mention a movie that I made here, but that's not a thing. Yet.

TV Shows

Doctor Who: Resolution: I had mixed feelings about Doctor Who Series 11, which I've documented extensively, but I did enjoy the one episode which aired in 2019. (Check out my full review here.) And I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Season 12 premiere, which I will be reviewing on Friday.

Tangled: The Series: An excellent animated show which threw in some startling and remarkable twists this year. See this post for my thoughts on why you should be watching this program (the first two seasons are on Disney+).

The Mandalorian: I'll be talking about this show in more detail on the blog soon, but for now, I'll just say that it's turned me from a casual Star Wars fan into a much more committed Star Wars fan. And I really did not expect that to happen.

Huh. I actually didn't watch much TV and movies in 2019. Well, unless you count rewatching Thor Ragnarok, The Emperor's New Groove, and Doctor Who on a fairly regular basis.

Podcasts

Victoriocity: A truly stupendous British audio drama podcast which released its second season this year. Very Pratchett-esque steampunk. You owe it to yourself to listen to this one.

Six Figure Authors: A new podcast from Lindsey Buroker, Andrew Pearson, and Joe Lallo. No, it hasn't turned me into a millionaire–yet–but it does feature a ton of helpful, no-nonsense advice and fascinating interviews.

The Christian Speculative Fiction Podcast: No, I'm not only recommending this show because I've been a guest on it twice. Well, maybe, kinda. But even aside from the amazingness that is me, there are a lot of other great guests on this show, and Paul Regnier is a fantastic host.

Welp…that's it. Time to close the book on another year. It may have been a boring number, but there was still a lot of great stuff in it.

So long, 2019. If I had the time to find a good version of Auld Lang Syne on Spotify, I'd play it right now, but I have editing to do. It's the thought that counts.

Okay, that's enough sentimentality. Time to get serious. Tell me what you found most memorable this year. And hurry. It'll be 2020 soon, and we all need to go out and get our flying-car learner's permits.

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