Best of the Decade
Instead of doing a round-up of the last year, I thought it might be fun to instead do a round-up of my favourite things over the last decade! 2010 to 2019 was a decade of firsts for me: it was the decade I finally started a blog of my own which was probably in hindsight the best decision I could have made because blogging has been such a comfort to me over the darker times and really gave me motivation again.
It has also been the start of my collecting habits (books, figures etc.) though I’m not sure that my other half would agree that this was a good thing (seriously running out of space haha!) I also got engaged (though no plans as yet for an actual wedding – it doesn’t seem all that important, to be honest).
I’ve had my ups and downs (and some of my downs were the worst I have ever faced) but I have gotten through intact for the most part. I’ve also discovered so many amazing books, television shows, movies, games… well, you get the idea! I love compiling lists so I thought it would be fun to share with you ten of my favourites in each category! These were for the most part released in the last decade but some were released earlier but I only discovered them in the last ten years.
Best in Books
This list includes books that are part of a series and sometimes it is not the first book that is my absolute favourite but for easiness I have just listed the first book (hope that makes sense!) The list is in no particular order.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: God, how much do I love this book – let me count the ways… Seriously, this series is life. I adore Jude and I adore Cardan (my problematic faves!) The story is amazing and the writing is just so good. I have loved the full trilogy and I am so sad it’s over but I’m looking forward to seeing what Holly writes next.
The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic: This book (and series) took me completely by surprise. I had heard a lot about it (it was quite hard to ignore because it became a bit of a Tumblr darling) but I didn’t expect to like it; let alone love it. On paper it is just not a Brin-book. It’s about sports (yuck) – a made up sport at that (double yuck). It’s completely unrealistic yet also bloody brilliant?? I don’t get it either. It shouldn’t be amazing but it just is. I adore the characters – they are just the most mismatched group of ragtag misfits but they just fit each other.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: Baz. Bloody. Pitch. Enough said. Okay, I’ll say more! This book is my everything. I adore it so much. Simon and Baz are my ultimate OTP (and I’m a woman in my thirties goddammit!) I just love them so much. This book is everything Harry Potter is to others for me (don’t get me wrong, I like Harry Potter well enough but I didn’t grow up with it and read it later on in life so it isn’t quite that important to me as it is to other bookish folks).
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: This series wrangled its way onto this list! I don’t mean that in a bad way, its more that I never expected this book/series to have so much of an impact on me. Yet, here we are… I loved this series when I finally got around to reading it this year. However, it has stayed with me in ways I just didn’t expect and for that, it needed to be on this list. It was a scrappy little thing (much like Delilah Bard herself); it got me in its grips and just wouldn’t let me go!
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Argh this book! It is just simply one of the most amazing reading experiences I have ever had. It is beautifully but simply written, the characters just jump off the page at you and it is truly a breath-takingly gorgeous piece of literature. I cannot recommend it highly enough – nothing I say will ever be sufficient to sing its praises.
Warchild by Karin Lowachee: This book was written a decade before I discovered it but it fully deserves a place on this list. It is an incredible piece of science fiction literature. As much I love science fiction movies, I struggle with the genre in novels. It can be too clinical or something. This book totally changed the genre for me. The characters are so real and well-realised. The story is heart-breakingly sad but also incredibly hopeful and moving. It is probably up there as one of my all-time favourites (along with Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderings and Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series).
Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale: Another series that wormed its way into my cold, black heart! Honestly, this series was a revelation – I was completely enraptured by it from the very first page and I am so glad the author is continuing to write books following these beloved characters. Honestly, it is a masterful fantasy and I am very excited to get to The Rifter series by the same author – hopefully very, very soon.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I debated for absolutely ages between this and Saving Francesca but in the end I just had to go with Jellicoe Road. It is such a beautifully crafted story and it had such a massive impact on me so I couldn’t not have it on this list. Gorgeous prose and a non-linear storyline makes it something very special indeed.
Melusine by Sarah Monette: I was seriously torn between this series and Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat but at the end of the day, the Doctrine of Labyrinths series (beginning with Melusine) edges out by just a mere fraction. I just adore Mildmay and Felix and their messed up relationship so much!
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: I love the Raven Boys with all my heart but I gotta give this to The Scorpio Races. I struggled to get into her Wolves of Mercy Falls series so I wasn’t hopeful for this but I gave it a shot and I’m so very glad I did. It then led me to check out the Raven Boys and the rest is history. I definitely think, objectively speaking, that The Scorpio Races, is her best work.
Best in Movies
I’m all about the movies haha! I’ve always been a bit of a movie buff and that definitely didn’t change in the last decade. I love a trip to the cinema and have made many trips there over the years.
Rogue One: I know this may seem like a strange choice but I absolutely adored Rogue One. I found it better than The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker combined (not that I didn’t love parts of each of these three films – particularly the cast who were amazing). I just felt Rogue One told the best story. The cast were amazing and it just worked for me.
Little Women: I’m totally surprised by this but I really loved the new Little Women. I was particularly charmed by Florence Pugh as Amy (a total surprise because I usually find Amy to be the brattiest of the sisters and generally cannot take to her even though I find her sympathetic too). A really good adaptation with a really spectacular cast.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: My favourite Marvel film, by a mile! I love all of the Captain America films but this is definitely the best one. It’s almost like a cold war thriller: it’s way darker than most of Marvel’s offerings and the plot is fantastic. I’m also pretty partial to Bucky Barnes and this film is heart-breaking when you realise what has happened to him.
The Avengers: I can’t not mention this film! Seriously, what the Marvel Universe has established is nothing short of miraculous. Each and every film has something to offer and I am always entertained. This was the first team-up movie and it is still the best one in my eyes. The humour and the pathos is just right and it manages to give nearly everyone in the cast something to do (well, except Hawkeye heh!)
Gifted: This film turned out to be one of the most charming, uplifting films I have seen in recent years. Such a wonderful little movie with a fantastic performance from young Mckenna Grace. Chris Evans puts in a fantastic performance too. Just an all-round feel-good film for all the family. Highly recommended.
Get Out: Oh boy, this film was uncomfortable viewing. Such a powerful message, but I definitely cringed my way through some parts! It really does show how insidious racism can be. Definitely a film that needs to be watched at least one (though I would recommend repeat viewing because there is a lot you miss first time round).
Bridesmaids: I actually watched this film on the telly last night and had forgotten just how funny it was! Films don’t always have to be anything more than just sheer entertainment and Bridesmaids certainly delivers on that front! Frank and funny. Cringey and surprisingly insightful at times. It’s just a really fun movie.
Ex Machina: This is definitely one of my very favourites. It’s such a clever, thought-provoking film with amazing performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Issac. It’s a claustrophobic movie, and definitely not an easy one to watch, but the message is very powerful and it definitely makes you think. I have watched it umpteen times and I always get something new out of it with every repeat viewing.
Wonder Woman: This film is absolutely amazing and Gal Gadot kills it in the lead role. It is the one movie that can compete with Marvel’s unstoppable force. It is just a great film all-round and very important in showing that a woman can lead a super-hero movie. I fell in love with the character of Diana and cannot wait for the follow-up film.
Spotlight: This movie is just… so damn good. Wow. It’s actually hard to describe in words. It’s a gut-wrenching subject but one that deserves to be told. All of the actors are very committed to their roles and the film is just so powerful (I know I say that a lot but this film really is). Seriously, watch this movie.
Best in Television
I am also a fan of television shows (especially when you can binge-watch them on streaming services like Netflix). Here are some of my more-recent favourites.
The Untamed: This is actually a very recent favourite (like, just in the last month) but I was completely captivated by this wonderful series. Beautifully acted, visually stunning, and a thoroughly engrossing story made for a completely enthralling 50 episode series. I immediately started a re-watch the instant I finished the series and I am enjoying it even more second-time through if that’s possible. Plus, it introduced me to the wonderful Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo: who are both fantastic as the two main characters (and soulmates) Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. Best new series by a wide margin.
Game of Thrones: The juggernaut that is Game of Thrones could simply not be ignored when considering my top ten television shows. This show has had such a huge impact on the television landscape and has definitely paved the way for more fantasy shows in general (always a good thing). The ending was… divisive, to say the least, and not necessarily all that satisfying but the journey itself (for the most part) was a thrilling ride.
Mindhunter: This series is something else entirely. I am fascinated by true crime anyway, so a series that focuses on the development of criminal profiling by interviewing some of the most famous serial killers was always going to be a huge draw for me. Edgy and atmospheric, the series moves at an almost glacial pace but it just so fascinating. The actors playing these famous killers are so spot-on it’s almost eerie and the main cast are all pretty fantastic (though I have a definite soft spot for Holt McCallany as Bill Tench).
The Magicians: Although I was not happy with the ending of season 4 (was anyone actually happy with this? Enquiring minds want to know…) I cannot deny how much joy this series has given me prior to this and I’m willing to give season 5 a chance just because I love the remaining cast so much. The cast is definitely what makes this series so special; I pretty much love them all (especially Elliot, Margo and Quentin).
The Walking Dead: My interest in this series has waned in the last couple of years (I haven’t watched the last two seasons, in fact) but I cannot deny how much I loved it at the beginning and it was still appointment-television for me for a good couple of seasons thereafter. It is a shame that it no longer grips me because it was one of my favourites.
Sherlock: God, how I loved Sherlock. Such a smart, entertaining, twisty show. I think part of what made it so special is the shorter format: only three episodes per season, which definitely left you wanting more. I doubt we will see any more of this show (the stars have pretty-much moved on at this point) but Sherlock will always hold a place in my heart.
American Crime Story: The fist series about the O.J. Simpson trial was a revelation; I was gripped throughout and at the denouement I was holding my breath waiting for the verdict (even though I, of course, knew what it would be!) Such great storytelling of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice. The second series (about the assassination of Gianni Versace) was also very strong if not quite as impactful. I am definitely interested to see where they go from here!
Stranger Things: Nostalgic and entertaining, this series really has it all for me. Featuring a delightful young cast (who all work so well with each other) plus an adult cast with some very familiar faces; Stranger Things is definitely a contender for one of my favourite series of the decade. It’s like a combination of the Goonies mixed with any eighties horror movie ever with a dollop of pop culture thrown into the mix!
Making a Murderer: Whatever side you fall down on; there is no denying that Making a Murderer makes for gripping television. Police corruption, dodgy lawyers and small-town-America politics – this series covers it all. I was enraged, tearful, angry… all at the same time. I’m not necessarily convinced that Steven Avery himself is innocent but I can’t deny that the events have been muddied so much it is hard to tell for sure one way or the other. This series really makes you think.
Chernobyl: Holy hell, but this was a powerful miniseries. I have lived my whole life under the shadow of the events at Chernobyl (it was impossible not to growing up in the eighties/nineties) but I honestly had no idea the extent of the full damage and the brave people who stopped it from developing into an even more catastrophic disaster (but honestly, we could be feeling the effects for hundreds if not thousands of years). Scary stuff but a very compelling series.
Best in Games
I’m a gamer girl at heart and although I haven’t played as much as I would probably like, I still found time for these wee beauts (bear in mind, I mainly play the Xbox so there are many games I haven’t played as yet on Playstation/PC but I’m hoping to get to them at some point).
Dishonored 2: This game probably is my favourite of the last decade, if I’m being totally honest. It is just so darn good. The replayability is insane – I have spent so many hours trying all the different modes (currently trying to do a no-kill, no-spot playthough which is super-hard but I’m having fun – lots of reloading though!)
Dragon Age: Inquisition: Of course this game was going to be on this list! It’s not my favourite in the series (that would actually be Dragon Age 2 – a controversial choice, I’m sure, but since this one came out in 2009… well, it wasn’t eligible haha!) but this game is really great too. I love the characters (especially Solas and Cassandra!) and it has a lot of replayability. They perhaps were a bit too… ambitious but it is still a solid game.
Mass Effect 2: I’m only allowing myself one choice from this series so I’m going to have to go with Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 3, despite the ending, was still a great game overall and Andromeda did have its charms, but Mass Effect 2 is definitely the strongest game. The characters were great, the story was tight, and the gameplay was challenging (though I did miss some of the more RPG elements and felt that combat etc. was slightly too simplified). Still, a fantastic game. And I got to romance Garrus so… 😉
Fallout: New Vegas: Again, I’m only allowing one from each series but as much as I enjoy Fallout 4 (and replay it a lot) this game had the better story. Obsidian did great things with this game and I just love it so much. It was the first of the new batch of Fallout games I played in fact (I had played the original games a hundred years ago heh!)
The Technomancer: I love this game so much, despite its flaws. It is such an underrated game. I miss playing a female character but I ended up loving Zachariah as a character and his romance with Andrew so its all good. Seriously, don’t let the naysayers put you off this game. It is not perfect but it is definitely still an amazing game. Combat is really hard at first (I don’t recommend playing on anything but easy for your first playthrough – you will die a lot). Probably second only to Dishonored 2 for most played game!
Life is Strange: This game is everything! I love Max and Chloe. The game has such a good story but the characters are its heart and soul. I am so glad I gave this game a chance and it is worth sticking with because you will get a gameplay experience like no other. Honestly, one of my favourite games of all time.
Life is Strange 2: I know I said no sequels but this game is its own animal. It follows different characters and is only tangentially linked to the first one so I am breaking my own rule here! This story is so good and very different to the first Life is Strange game. It totally stands on its own and the characters are just as endearing in their own way.
The Walking Dead: Any Telltale game could be on this list, if I’m being honest, but I have such fondness for the game that started off all the magic (and I’m forever bitter at Telltale’s fate). This game series is just so good. I got the complete collection for Christmas and I can’t wait to play it all again.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: This game deserves a place on this list for its visuals alone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prettier game. I don’t think the characters are quite as strong as say a Bioware game (the companions – if you can call them that – are pretty thinly drawn) but it has so many other positives that it cancels that out. Definitely a worthy game.
Greedfall: I really like this game a lot. It’s fun, with good characters and a solid story. Just a really fun gaming experience and I know I am going to replay the game lots in the future. This is definitely a new favourite of mine (Green Blood!!)
I loved A Darker Shade of Magic! I haven’t started The Magicians yet, but I’ve been hearing from everyone that it’s amazing – I just finished the books, so I’m slowly getting ready to watch it. Happy New Year!