I try to do this every year, but 2022 didn't go as planned, so here's the round-up of what I loved in 2022 and 2023.
Favorite books of 2022 and 2023
Crudrat, The 5th Gender, and the Tinkered Starsong series by Gail Carriger -- I loved, loved, loved Gail Carriger's steampunk series, but I wasn't sure about her pivot to sci-fi. Was I ever wrong. I LOVED these books and couldn't read them fast enough! I can't wait to see where Carriger goes next in the Tinkered universe.
The Interstellar Angel and Dark Witch series by Laura Navarre -- If you love reverse harem, look no farther. Both of these series feature amazing worldbuilding, kickass characters, and sex that is off-the-charts HOT. No one writes RH as well as Navarre!!!
The Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine -- Caine puts a new spin on the "woman in jeopardy" theme by featuring a heroine who learns to her absolute horror that she's been happily married to a serial killer. Even from behind bars, he refuses to let her go, and the way she's stalked and harassed by both his followers and the families of his victims is relentless throughout the series. And yet Gwen manages to find a way forward for herself and her family by helping other people who are caught in similarly horrible circumstances. This would make an excellent TV series!
The Immortal Doc Holliday series by MM Crumley -- We're 14 books into the Immortal Doc Holliday series, and it just keeps getting better. If you're in a funk, pick up this series today. Funny, inventive, and a rollicking good adventure in each installment. Plus, with the charming, inveterate rascal Doc Holliday as the lead, you know you're in for a damn good time! The good-natured banter and bickering between Doc and his crew -- talking plant Thaddeus, vampire Jervis, and witch Jury -- just adds to the fun. I've laughed out loud dozens of times while reading this series, and I'm eagerly looking forward to more. I would love to see these books get turned into a TV or movie series! I also recommend Crumley's "The Legend of Andrew Rufus" series -- it's a great companion to this one, and gives more insights into Doc and his world.
Favorite TV shows of 2022 and 2023
The Rookie -- This show just keeps getting better and better. I love all of the characters, and the stories have remained intense and thought-provoking. Even though Nathan Fillion is the star, each character is well-drawn and has their own storyline. While John's story was the one that drew me in, the other characters -- Lucy and Tim, Nila, and Angela and Wesley -- are just as engaging and lovable. I'm so happy that Lucy and Tim FINALLY got together!!! Can't wait for the next season! I'm very sad that its companion show, The Rookie: Feds, starring Niecy Nash-Betts, got cancelled after just one season. It was funny, fierce, and so much fun. I'm going to miss it.
You -- Stalker Joe Greenberg should be no one's hero. He's a mess, falling obsessively in love with woman after woman, and when things don't work out, he's prone to making life-altering mistakes... including murder. And yet, I can't help rooting for the guy to sort his life out. He so wants to stop what he's doing and live a normal life. By the end of season 4, it appears that Joel has kind of gotten himself together, but will it last? We'll find out in season 5.
Severance -- Imagine literally not knowing what you did all day at work. The characters in Severance have all undergone a procedure that blocks them from accessing their workday memories outside of work (and vice versa). But when one of them starts to realize that there's a sinister side to their inscrutable workplace, the secrets he and his co-workers uncover lead to disturbing revelations. Like the characters, you have no idea what's going on either, and as the true nature of what they're doing and why is revealed, you'll be as fascinated and horrified as they are. The first season ends on a hell of a cliffhanger, and I wish season 2 was here already!
Star Trek: Picard -- The first two seasons of Picard were a bit uneven (though still very good), but the third and final season is the satisfying and poignant wrap-up that Picard and the Star Trek: TNG characters deserve. I loved every minute, and I actually cried at the end, it was so well-done. The addition of Ed Speelers as Jack Crusher was genius, and I hope that the Star Trek: Legacy show that's teased at the end happens!
The Mandalorian -- I've always loved Star Trek more than Star Wars, but this show grabbed me and wouldn't let go. The relationship between the Mandalorian and Grogu is funny and heartfelt. How Pedro Pascal makes you care -- despite having to act 99% of the time behind that mask -- is beyond me, but it truly works. Be sure to watch Boba Fett to get the complete story.
Favorite movies of 2022 and 2023
There's so much amazing TV out there that I don't see nearly as many movies as I used to. But here are a few that stand out.
The John Wick series -- The worldbuilding in these was the cherry on top! Each movie exposed a new layer of this universe of assassins, and each movie put John through yet more mayhem. Are these movies believable? Not even close. Are they a lot of kickass fun? Hell yes!
Babylon -- I hardly knew how to feel after watching this glorious and profane look at the Silent Film Era of Hollywood and how the shift to "talkies" -- and the imposition of the Hays "morality" Code -- destroyed so many of its early stars. The characters played by Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, and Brad Pitt all go through their own journeys, and only one of them survives to look back on all of the hedonism and insanity of those years. This is NOT a family-friendly movie, so be warned. It's both a celebration and a critique of Hollywood. Despite its three-hour run time, I was never bored, and I've thought about it many times since seeing it.
Barbie -- I loved this much more than I expected, from the "2001" parody at the beginning to the very end, when the Barbies smash patriarchy. The highlight of course is America Ferrara's "It is literally impossible to be a woman" speech. I hardly expected the Barbie movie to end up being more or less a feminist manifesto, but kudos to the filmmakers and Mattel for doing it.