Bottoms Up for the Warrior God

Mars, curtesy of FlickrAnother month bites the dust. Once upon a time the calendar marked the beginning of the year in March. Well, at least the earliest Roman calendar did. Unsurprising for a people who believed Mars to be Romus and Remulus’ father. If that be the case, they didn’t disappoint their ancestor and god, having subdued a continent under its war-some standard.

We’ve had our fare share of war this spring. I have held back from writing about it. It is too close to home, too painful to render into words. One day perhaps I will, but not yet. For now I will take stock of my blogging portfolio for this month and drink a glass of wine to a god I hope might take more pains with his guardianship of agriculture in the future and leave strife well alone. Moving on.

The Batch Express

In shocking news, Benedict Cumberbatch takes the top three spots in “most viewed” posts this March. It would appear that try as I may, I can’t keep him out of the spotlight. Admittedly, I may have been doing the exact opposite but hey! I hear no complaints. On the other hand, I’m certain that I’ve read an article recently titled “Cumbebatch has to be stopped” yet judging by his current popularity, there is little chance of that. So here they are, the stories that took the Twittosphere and blogosphere by storm (apparently).

Benedict Cumberbatch having a drink at the Roundhouse in London

#1 Which pub does Benedict Cumberbatch drink in? Ah yes. Many a Batch fan has been leafing through my stories trying to figure out where they could “accidentally” bump into their favourite star. Get your belts secured and we’re off on a pub crawl. Now, who volunteered to be the designated driver? Anyone?

 

2nkul5d#2 Stalking #BenedictCumberbatch The following week, search terms took a sinister turn. If in reading my reply you conclude that I have been a little harsh, and if you would have approached the subject differently, please let me know.

A literary dissection. (Mental note: don’t annoy Vic)” commented Richard. I do love a surgical simile.

 

tumblr_static_tumblr_m8efqb0avh1r3qiywo1_r1_400

#3 Cumberbatch and I | Reconciling the Past was a welcome back gift from Kavalkade in the guise of a parody song. Hair band off and head at the ready to rock on with Seven Mary Three’s Cumbersome Cumberbatch.

“I have become Cumberbuns to this world
I have become Cumberbuns to this girl.”

 

Photographic Memory

For the next set I would like to thank all fellow blogger-photographers who inspired me to share my amateurish attempts and have been kind in both visits and praise. A big thank you to all who have been generous in reading the stories behind what the lens revealed. For a change, I will not add my own commentary and instead will include a select few comments from those you gifted me. Here are the top four as chosen by you:


Young Bolivian girl by Vic Briggs#4 Portrait of young girl: A beautiful post, incredibly poignant and uplifting. The photo is enchanting…I’m hoping that her broad but tentative smile portends a positive future for this little girl and her compatriots.Lee-Anne.

Beautiful and heartbreaking.sothislife.

 

Skydiving in Argentina#5 Be Afraid and Do It Anyway Your theory should be applied to travel and to life in general. During an interview I did a month ago I was asked, “What should everyone do at at least once?” I’ve been thinking about it a lot since and if I could answer all over again I’d say that we all need to do something we’re terrified of at least once.fancyfrivolous.

 

Geisha by Vic Briggs#6 Geiko 芸子 Geisha “I think this photo captures everything about “Geisha Girls”. An ancient culture in today’s world.PricelessJoy.

Very interesting information. I forwarded your post to a friend who will be travelling to Japan later this month.Carol Balawyder.

 

Full Moon by Vic Briggs#7 Inadequacy

I agree with what you’ve said here; it’s less scary being inadequate than it might be to be extraordinary.Martha Kennedy.

 

Poetic Denouement 

It is not often that poetry makes it into my top ten in great numbers. Usually it is one at most that will sneak through. I am grateful that so many of you have come along on this journey with me. In no other literary form am I able to pour as much of myself as I do in verse.

72471151d2f1a15a8850287ed0cb66ac#8 The sound of emptiness

There is a place where empty souls find rest

From the relentless dust of days that simmer black… 

 

 

girls-holding-hands#9 Of friendship and loss

Buried in the scent of another day past,

We stayed up late into the night…

 

Drought by Katie Tegtmeyer#10 A wordsmith’s drought

Coagulated rain

On barren skin,

Vindictive in its glare…

 

So there we are, at another months’ end. Bottoms up for the Warrior God, and while unsure as to the etymological origins of “April”, I am told that it was once the sacred month of Venus so I hope it will be a fruitful and loving one for you all.

 

Advertisements

Let’s Talk Opinion | Wanders with Werewolves

images-5

“You write well when you’re angry, Vic.”

This was the express conclusion of a friend who had taken the time to read a couple of my Let’s Talk Opinion posts. I was surprised to hear it.

I could not recall an instance when that particular emotion had prompted me to write, at least not opinion pieces. It is true that some subjects I feel strongly about and treading on egg-shells is not my strongest suit. But anger brings to mind a flaring face, augmented to the size of a Halloween pumpkin and gradually acquiring the hue of a ready-to-explode blueberry Willy Wonka style.

My posts I hope are never dispassionate, but I did not believe them to ever be guided by a sense of annoyance or downright hostility.

Pondering with some degree of perplexity on the matter, in re-reading the posts the aforementioned friend referred to, I came to a conclusion of my own. It was my propinquity proclivity to use irony and dark humour as rhetorical devices that must have come across as written in anger.  I do this intuitively, without forethought, and like any writing that gets submitted to public scrutiny, it may at times appear to linger on the threshold of sarcasm, if not crossing it altogether.

The reader is always a better judge than I could ever be of whether that is the case or not, so I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. For now, I will keep the promise of yesterday’s Let’s Talk Opinion | Lunchtime Edition and add the remaining favourites of the series for a complete top ten:

 

thinkoutsidetheboxcold#6 Clichés | Avoid them like the plague! Laughter is contagious, and having just about managed to pick myself off the floor where I lay in stitches for a while after reading Michael Alexander Chaney‘s “cliché” misadventure, I decided to repay him in kind. This is one of those rare instances (for me at least) where humour went hand in hand with utility.

 

beach-love-couple-silhouette1#7 Consent is Sexy When it comes to the issue of tacit consent it is difficult to disagree with Queer Guess Code: traditional media continue to portray romantic encounters as the prerogative of silence. If the other’s advances are unwelcome, we are expected to say “no”, but are women given enough opportunities to say “yes”?

 

blogging_6#8 Danger Blogging explores the dangers bloggers expose themselves to on a daily basis, and offers a few tips on how to avoid them. I have fallen foul of a couple of these myself and the effects were immediate and lasting so beware. In conversation with Idiot Writing.

 

Vogue Issue Cadeaux#9 Child Pornography and The Sexualisation of Children “Do child pornography websites lead to acts of unimaginable evil?” asks Giorge Thomas in the wake of Ian Watkins – the lead singer of Lostprophets – being convicted of child pornography charges. With this question in mind I consider the impact of the sexualisation of children perpetrated by popular media today. Some readers found the accompanying images disturbing, so please tread with care.

 

animal-farm1#10 Some are more equal than others In hindsight I wish I had named this article “Wanders with Werewolves”.  If you are familiar with this piece then you will know why. If not: then take a peek and let me know if you think a title change is in order. I believe this is the opinion piece that my friend referred to when she said “You write well when you’re angry, Vic.” Well… angry perhaps not, but a little wolfish, certainly.

*

Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Let’s Talk Opinion | Lunchtime Edition

opinion

I am rather fond of opinion pieces. Opinions offer no certainty. They are more likely to engender a multitude of questions rather than the opposite, and yet there is an intrinsic freedom to these flighty expressions of views and feelings. We all have them, and in exploring uncertainty, armed with some degree of experience and oftentimes incomplete knowledge, we find the courage to draw the veil and let others sift through our treasure trove of conclusions in the hope of finding kindred spirits or perhaps in order to test the strength of our convictions.

Since opinions always fall short of absolute conviction, they also allow space for communication. There will be those who will agree and those who will challenge our views. And yet by the very virtue of open dialogue, all parties are enriched, if only by glimpsing a world of possibility hitherto unknown.

“We may have our private opinions but why should they be a bar to the meeting of hearts?” – Mahatma Gandhi

I initiated the Let’s Talk Opinion series several months ago as a means of engaging with issues that are important to other bloggers and in doing so I hoped that we may journey together to discover – if not answers – at least new ways of questioning the world.

The first post of the series, titled You Will Be Offended asked you to consider “where do we draw the line between opinion, self-censorship and free speech in the blogosphere?” as well as establishing what I hope to achieve with these posts and what I do not. Whether you have been keeping up with the series or are new to ShardsOfSilence, I hope you will enjoy taking a peek at the articles that have faired best so far. Here they come!

RAPED_683000 #1 Drunk Sex / RAPED This November piece, in conversation with Sifting Reality, made it to the top of the list. Does regret in hind-sight play a role in reporting intoxication-related sexual assaults? This author begs to differ. 

 

untitled#2 You Are Not White Enough! “There’s no man in this world who will reject you because of your unbleached Bermuda Triangle.” This anti-fairness advocacy piece is a humorous rant against the racist vagina police. In conversation with Jezebel.

 

Man_Vs_Woman_by_joshnickerson#3 Men vs Women | Crossing the Divide adds another doze of humour to the question of gender difference. By all accounts, having failed to fit nicely into what OM, my interlocutor for this piece, describes as “typical” female behaviour, and afraid that I may well be facing an identity crisis as a result, I relied on that oh-so-British love of subtext to fashion a tongue-in-cheek reply.

 

#4 Get Naked. Be Art. skyferreira_albumI am certain that this will not be the first, nor the last article that questions the intent behind nudity in the music industry and beyond. luna luna asked the reader to consider the divide between art and marketing ploys: between instances when nudity is empowering and disarming, and when it is just a gimmick, aimed at increasing sales. This article, although by no means definitive, is my attempt at an answer.

 

baby-on-board#5 BABY ON BOARD | Discrimination This post considered the issue of discrimination in the workplace in reply to Quinn, who claimed that offering any special consideration to working parents constitutes “blatant discrimination – “family” vs. “individual””. Gloves were off for this one!

 

I hope you enjoy revisiting these posts. If they are new to you, then I hope you won’t shy away from sharing your opinion. I am certain that at least one of the above topics will be to your liking. Nonetheless, should you be left searching for just the right topic for you, tune in tomorrow for the next set of Let’s Talk Opinion favourites.

*

Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

January’s Jousters

Texas-Renaissance-Festival-Jousting-1024x823

This is the magic of the written word. A simile has the power to transform an otherwise pedestrian (?) post into a knight, and since we had quite a number of those tricksters this month, it’s a tournament to boot. Look at them take to the field, determined to unhorse each other with their blunted lances. Although I have it on good authority that one or two of them have managed to sneak through with rather sharp tips. Or was it tongues? I forget.

So, let’s get to it. Who made it to the top and whose helmet got the better of them this January? Here is our line-up complete with coats of arms.

2060-end-of-the-worldAt number ten enters Apocalypse. This tale is a sorrowful one, where foresight is both a gift and a curse. This is what fellow bard Chris Nelson had to say: “This is a powerful poem – almost a commentary on the agony of immortality. It’s scary enough how we become desensitised to tragedy by age without the prospect of seeing out millennia. If there were immortal beings looking down on us would they, after all this time, empathise with our plight?”

feministJust ahead in ninth place we have cheeky entry that offers the audience a the quickest way to find out the answer to the following question: Are you a Feminist? “Thanks for the gem!!! It has brought me and several others big smiles,” said cakeleevannila. Let’s hope it can do the same for you.

Sherlock-dressed-as-French-waiterThe eighth contender comes curtesy of the Let’s Talk Opinion series in conversation with thedailygrime and ventures into Arthur Connan Doyle territory: That’s Elementary, my dear Watson. No. Wait. It’s Sherlock!

blogging_6

“A great, great post for the super busy blogger. Thanks for sharing” says prolific writer and blogger Erik Lehman of our next January jouster Danger Blogging: a Let’s Talk Opinion post exploring the dangers bloggers expose themselves to on a daily basis. We have our knight for the seventh place

 

sherlock-series3-e_2779858bIn a surprising turn of events, we have a second Sherlock contender for the top ten jousters this month. A review of The Empty Hearse takes sixth place. I stand by it: “I blame the hype as well as the extended wait. Two years is a long time for a build up. Perhaps I expected too much and was bound to be  #Disappointed” 

THE WOLF OF WALL STREETNow for the top five! The Wolf of Wall Street comes fifth after a somewhat raunchy introduction on the BBC Breakfast show. Unexpected unmentionables at 9am will certainly make for a different kind of cereal and it also prompted some strong reactions both in favour and against.

protest-against-mumbai-gang-rapeAlthough Rape | A World Pandemic comes forth in terms of views this month, it takes first place for the discussion it engendered. Iceman named it A “Must Read” today. Another reader scottishmomus shared it and commented: “I have no words for what is here. Please read.”

benedict_cumberbatch_03Is it possible for a full month to pass without a certain Mr Cumberbatch making an appearance in yet another Vic Briggs dreamscape? Perhaps it is, but we’ll have to wait it out. For this January sees the alienesque knight and his steely steed return to your screens in The #BenedictCumberbatch | An Unexpected Meeting. He takes third place, and readers have already requested a sequel. Let’s hope he’ll oblige.

 

Man_Vs_Woman_by_joshnickersonThe runner-up this January, taking home the jousting silver, is a classic battle of the sexes. In Men vs Women | Crossing the Divide yours truly crosses the proverbial lance with none other than OM. Here is what Winifred M. Reilly had to say: “This post was just what I needed. Hilarious. I didn’t resonate much with OM’s complaints, tho amusing to hear him gripe. Your wit is priceless. Loved the weight lifting bit.”

 

Nadine DorriesAnd for the gold? We have been told repeatedly that the general public is apathetic when it comes to politics. That may be so, yet it would seem that we still want politicians to be held to account, especially when they are in charge of the country. Xenophobic Tory MP Nadine Dorries blames immigrants for recent UK floods is our jouster of the month.

This is all from the Top Ten Shards this January. If I got you in the mood for a little jousting, remember: you receive one point for breaking your lance on your opponent’s chest, two points for breaking it on their helmet, and three points for an unhorsing. Farewell!

Carpe Diem | Best of 2014 ???

Cinema

When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?

It was a stifling summer’s day… or perhaps it was spring. It little matters. I was spending the day with a new friend. It is always an adventure, getting to know someone. There was something unusual about him, although I couldn’t say what exactly… only that he was elsewhere somehow.

Where did he go in those moments when he was there with me and yet not there? It took me only a few minutes longer to discover. 

“One day… some ten years later perhaps,” he said all of a sudden, interrupting my chatter mid-flow, “I will be looking back at this day and thinking about all of this. The walk. The cobbled street. The heat of the day. Meeting you.”

Those may have not been his words exactly, but they are what I remember of them. It was then that I realised what had intrigued me about this man. He was forever escaping into an imaginary future, ageing the present – imprisoning it in the past through an invented “hindsight”.

Unlike my friend, I prefer to stay in the moment.

I care little for how I may look back at it in a day, or a month, or a year and I am even less concerned with how I may remember it in a decade or two. I’d much rather be in the present than solidify it into memory-matter before it had the chance to be lived – sweat and all. Carpe Diem!

This is why I’ve had such difficulty in writing a reply to your question. I can rewind, certainly… but fast forward?

Perhaps I can do both and guess what the top ten for 2014 might be and whether it would look any different from 2013s list.

Will that little white lie: “I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch.” continue to top the charts?

There is another post that is already biting at its heels and looks very likely to overtake it in the coming months: Drunk Sex / RAPED. I have mixed feelings about this one. Every time I sea the search engine term appear in my stats it makes me shiver. Can’t help but wonder.  

COMING SOON… to a VicBriggs blog-screen near you! It was such a blast to write, I may just do it again. Although I am yet to get around to delivering on that promise of Fun with automobiles! Showroom Extravaganza. Well… I parked up the idea for a sunnier day. You understand, I’m sure. 

Then there was PROJECT R in session #10 Sreejit Poole… “Let us all walk the world knowing that “we are love”. Sreejit’s message is so powerful in its simplicity that I would be surprised if it does not continue to pull at heartstrings in the coming year. 

Love, of course, comes in various guises, whether we feel it or are it. When I wrote #BenedictCumberbatch goes Brokeback Sherlock I had no idea that it would soon overtake all other “Benedicted” posts bar one. I did get a complaint or two from female fans who would much rather see the delectable Cumberbatch bat for our side rather than the other, but hey! surely a boy can dream too.

Breaking the silence on Depression was by far the most difficult post I’ve written this past year, and I do hope I won’t be matching it with another in the next. There are no guarantees that time alone will keep the black dogs at bay, but… there is always hope. And if hope is not enough, then humour might save me after all. That, or sex with the aforementioned 😉

Perhaps 2014 will add some interviews to ShardsOfSilence, in line with that Harsh Reality EXCLUSIVE and featuring more opinionated men and women. Curiosity is the one thing that survives year in, year out. I want to know what makes you tick and I will find it out (if you let me, that is 😀 ) 

Here is something that I will do my best to avoid this year: negativity. However… if I am to indulge every now and then, I will at least try to do it with a smile on my face, stiff upper lip or not. You know what they say, when you complain or otherwise, go British

I suppose the answer was staring me in the face all this time and it simply took me a while to get to it.

It is the 2nd of January 2015. I am scrolling through my bog in search for… more opinion of course, and a little more humour wouldn’t go amiss either.

Now. Back to reality. It appears that the muse has abandoned me. Such a lush. I’ll have to get him off the juice and soon if I’m to write any poems this year. Cheerio.

 http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/daily-prompt-progress/

December’s Darlings

top-101It’s that time of the year again when we revisit old favourites. I am always curious to find out which topics appealed to you most.

This post comes a little late since making my way back from the New World to the Old rainy island has unfortunately prevented me from delivering the news on the last day of the month as intended.

First things first, it’s rather chilly in here. The fire may take a while to make up in the grate, so I’ll go and put the kettle on instead. Tea can always be relied on to warm the cockles of your heart. While I am no good at reading fortunes in the bottom of a cup, I’ve been experimenting with other means for reading your likes and dislikes. So…

Make yourself comfy and join me in reminiscing about the good old December days.

baby-on-board# 1 BABY ON BOARD | Discrimination This is the first of five Let’s Talk Opinion pieces to have made it onto December’s Top Ten list, so after a short travel-induced break the series will return to your screens this January. Be on the lookout, as you may very well find one of your posts included, in conversation with yours truly.

 

world-in-danger_Royalty Free#2 ‘Nothing is true, everything is permitted’ delves into the murky waters of relativity. There is no absolute truth, declares the author, and proceeds to explain why she claims this to be the case. “Thanks for one of the best posts I have read in a while.” says shoe1000 in reply to this post about the nature of truth.

 

Race_FINAL_shea_walsh_web#3 Shades of Grey is a Let’s Talk Opinion post in conversation with Nina Kaytel. Inspired by fiction, it is the reality how we view the concept of race that has prompted the discussion. Race is not something one is born with. It is something one learns.

 

beach-love-couple-silhouette1#4 Consent is Sexy “We’ve gotten the idea from movies and magazines that silence is sexy. Ultimate romance means fireworks and fairy dust sprinkling down from the heavens and instilling in us some magical intuition where both people suddenly just know what the other wants.” Ahem. The issue of tacit consent – it is difficult to disagree with Queer Guess Code on this and there comes the question: Are women given enough opportunities to say “yes”?

 

Jimmy Savile#5 Child Pornography. Disturbing Search Engine Terms  follows in the footsteps of November’s post on Child Pornography and The Sexualisation of Children in popular media, prompted by the appearance of some very disturbing search engine terms in this blogger’s stats page.

 

20131225-085559.jpg#6 Merry Cumberbatch To those of you who have been following shards-of-silence for a while, my soft spot for a certain Mr Benedict Cumberbatch will come as no surprise. I suppose it was only a matter of time before my patient other half got his own back. And what better time than Christmas 😉

 

It is never your fault#7 RAPE | Disturbing Search Engine Terms discusses the myths and facts about rape. “Strong, powerful, and IMPORTANT piece” says JMC813. Although it is a difficult topic, rape has become such a frighteningly common occurrence that it doesn’t do to ignore it. May need to add a dash of whisky to that cup of tea before reading on.

 

#8 Sherlock The Third It appears that it is impossibleBenedict-Cumberbatch-as-Sherlock-Holmes-and-Martin-Freeman-as-Dr-John-Watson-from-the-new-series-of-Sherlock to get through a month worth of Top Tens without including at least one post on Sherlock amongst their number. December is no different. Decrying the long wait to which the fans have been subjected, this post is delivered to you by the usual suspects: The Batch on Sunday team!

 

HISTORY-SIDEBAR#9 One wo/man can make a difference is yet another Let’s Talk Opinion post to make it to the top this December, this time it is in conversation with April on the topic of women’s rights. The post prompted an impassion discussion between opposed parties, and if you have not yet weighed in on the debate, you are very welcome to do so now.

 

TARDIS#10 A Master of Boredom For the majority of people on this planet, life is… well… rather dull, apparently. Boredom is a fact of life and you are either bored or lying. Can that be true? Will we let the cynics rule and stand aside to let them paint our world in shades of grey? Nope. Not this blogger.

 

I hope that you will enjoy what December’s Top Ten has to deliver despite its belated arrival to your screens. Meanwhile… I see you’ve already finished that first cup of tea already. I’d better go and make you another one. 😉

November’s Darlings

Feeling a little blue and want something to cushion your first winter day?

Take a leaf from Cumberbatch’s homely delights on this. Light a fire in the grate (it is winter after all), pour yourself a good measure of whiskey (when in doubt, always go Scottish on this), and get yourself comfy for a good read. When only the best will do, here’s our critics’ pick of November’s Top Ten Shards guaranteed to satisfy.

untitled#1 You Are Not White Enough! Laughter and tears was the overwhelming reaction to this humorous rant against the Racist Vagina Police. “There’s no man in this world who will reject you because of your unbleached Bermuda Triangle,” says Vic. This anti-fairness advocacy piece is our critics’ favourite shard.

#SherlockLives#2 #SherlockLives  This piece, courtesy of The Batch on Sunday, took the Tweetosphere by storm. It chronicles the fandom’s reaction to the surprise trailer for the third series of Sherlock, as well as musing on the meaning of John Watson’s upper lip décor. The latest news is this: Sherlock comes to UK screens on the 1st of January!

RAPED_683000#3 Drunk Sex / RAPED This is the second Let’s Talk Opinion piece to make it to the top of our critics’ list for November. It is a counterpoint to the claim that regret in hind-sight plays a role in reporting intoxication related sexual assaults.

skyferreira_album#4 Get Naked. Be Art. By delving into a discussion regarding the intent of this choice, whether artistic or commercial, the author attempts to think through whether nudity in this context is empowering and disarming, or whether it is just another gimmick. “Nudity sells. It has done for as long as there were people willing to be nude, and those with the skill to depict it,” says Vic in response to Sky Ferreira’s C.D. cover and her choice of exposed nipple.

thinkoutsidetheboxcold#5 Clichés | Avoid them like the plague! Now this one’s the bees knees! Despite being a late November entry, this little escapade into the world of clichés, has clearly found resonance with readers and critics alike. “Provoking and funny,” says Michael Alexander Chaney, whose piece  Clichés I Don’t Get  happens to be the source of inspiration for this shard.

#6 Brokeback Mountain Whispers is an opinion post about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights. The horrific stories of abuse and murder suffered by members of the LGBT community do not make for easy reading.

Marie_Antoinette#7 Temptation is the only poem in the November repertoire to make it onto the critics’ Top Ten list. “Oh hoah, V. A little hot in here – wanna open that window? This one has some of the best lines I’ve seen on this blog yet,” says Holistic Wayfarer. Tempted?

Vogue Issue#8 Child Pornography and The Sexualisation of Children  Establishing a connection between paedophilia, child pornography and the sexualisation of children by the fashion, film and music industries, this article argues that amongst other harmful consequences, the increased sexualisation of children in the media may inadvertently result in lax attitudes towards abuse.

cuffed#9 Cuffed “They came for me in the late summer of 2011,” begins the story of a young journalist whose life is turned upside-down when the police turns up at her door with a warrant for her arrest. It is the first snippet of a novel, currently under revision. “Ever read the first page of a novel and just immediately know you’re in for a great ride? I have. And I just did again,” says JMC813. Hope you agree.

Johnlock#10 #BrokebackSherlock In the latest instalment of writer turned director Vic Briggs’ Dreamscapes epic, she takes the Johnlock relationship to another level. “We need Johnny, Benedict and Martin to see this thing. Seriously. God, I am still laughing,” says beddyburc. This is one for the boys.

*

Do you agree with the critics’ choices?

Which was you favourite November shard?

Now… You are in your favourite armchair, the fire blazes in the grate, and the whiskey shimmers amber at the bottom of your glass. You’ve got your nice reads at the ready. What could be more wonderful on a cold December day? Here’s to a beautiful winter.