The Steel Review Roll Call of Honour!

Well it’s mid-February, which means it must be time for The Steel Review Roll Call of Honour! I know I said this would happen a while ago, but I thought I might as well wait for proper Award Season. Well I didn’t, I’m just disorganised, but I think it will fit in well here anyway. So, this is how it’s going to work. I’m going to consider all the books, films, book vs. film adaptations and live music events that I’ve reviewed here during 2013, and pick my favourite and runner up in each category. These will be the books and films of the year that I think everyone needs to read or watch. (Obviously it’s a bit late for people to go out and experience my favourite gigs, but they’ll still get a mention). They won’t necessarily be books and films that were released in 2013 though; they’ll just be the books and films that I’ve personally experienced in 2013, and written about in The Steel Review. Albums won’t be included, as I think I’ve only reviewed one this year (oops!). Anything from the Book vs. Film category will also feature separately in the Books and Films categories. I’m going to consider everything reviewed from the 1st January 2013 up until today, 23rd February 2014, because everything that’s so far been reviewed in 2014 should really have been reviewed at the end of 2013, except I was a bit too busy and disorganised. All the nominations will be linked back to the original reviews, should you want to peruse them further, and they’ll be listed in the order in which they first appeared in The Steel Review.

So, without further ado, here are the nominations!


29 Nominations for the Best Book:

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling; The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell; A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon; When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman; The Savage Garden by Mark Mills; Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell; Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte; Matilda by Roald Dahl; George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl; David Copperfield by Charles Dickens; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller; Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh; Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie; Mr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman; Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind; Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan; By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho; Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho; The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho; Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King; The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl; Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom; Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll; Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne; On Writing by Stephen King; First Love, Last Rites by Ian McEwan.

And the runner up is…

David Copperfield

I was really surprised at just how much I enjoyed reading David Copperfield. I’d tried reading it a couple of years ago and really struggled, I just couldn’t get on with it at all, which is why I really wasn’t expecting to be so hooked on the story. The characterisation was brilliant, and it contains one of the most memorable and powerful scenes that I’ve ever read in a novel. It was brilliant, I definitely recommend giving it a go. Don’t be put off by thinking it’s stuffy and old-fashioned, because at the heart of it there’s really quite a lot of drama and excitement.

And the winner of Best Book Reviewed in 2013 is…

I really can’t emphasise enough how brilliant Catch-22 is. I think it’s a bit of a marmite book that you either love or hate, but it’s definitely worth reading just in case, because if you do love it you will really, really love it. I went through so many different emotions reading this book. I laughed and I cried, and most arrestingly of all, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days after finishing it. I still think about it now, months down the line. It really had quite a huge effect on me, which was all the more surprising considering how little I expected it.


31 Nominations for The Best Film:

Life of Pi; Psycho; Django Unchained; The Room; The King’s Speech; Cloud Atlas; Despicable Me; Kung Fu Panda; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Madagascar; Nine; Iron Man; Iron Man 2; Iron Man 3; Brideshead Revisited; Les Misérables; Springsteen and I; The Great Gatsby; Man of Steel; Monsters University; Perfume: The Story of a Murderer; The Heat; Quartet; Good Night, and Good Luck; The Shawshank Redemption; The Lone Ranger; About Time; Big Fish; Carnage; Saving Mr. Banks; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

And the runner up is…

I just loved The King’s Speech. It’s such an uplifting, heart-warming film. The whole cast were superb, and it definitely brought a wobble to my British Stiff Upper Lip. It’s very touching and moving, but also really rather funny. It’s exactly the kind of film I could watch again and again without it ever growing old.

And the winner of Best Film of 2013 is…

I’m really struggling to put into words how much I loved Saving Mr. Banks. I know it’s far from perfect, but it really did bring a smile to my face and a tear (or several) to my eye. I’m desperate for it to be released on DVD so I can watch it again. Emma Thompson was so brilliant in it, and of course so was Tom Hanks. The whole thing was just an absolute joy for me, and I know it’s going to be one of my all-time favourite films.


4 Nominations for the Best Film Adaptation of a Book (Book Vs. Film):

Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell); Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh); Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Patrick Süskind); (Rita Hayworth and) Shawshank Redemption (Stephen King).

And the runner up is…

It was quite hard to choose a runner up for this category actually. The winner was so clear, but all of the others had their faults and elements that I wasn’t so sure about. I chose Perfume in the end because it was the only one of the nominations, other than the winner, which really captured the mood of the book, and was almost as compelling in film form as the novel.

And the winner of Best Film Adaption of a Book is…

It could only ever be Shawshank. It’s such a faithful retelling of Stephen King’s story, and in some places the dialogue is almost word for word. It’s such a brilliant story, and it comes across equally powerfully in both mediums. Whether you’ve read the novella or watched the film, this is a story that you’re not likely to forget in a hurry. What’s wonderful is that the film compliments the novella so finely that it becomes difficult to separate the two, and I think that’s a clear indication of an adaptation that really works. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption again without hearing the narration in Morgan Freeman’s voice in my head. Plus it’s such a close adaptation that only very minor changes have been made, and those changes are few and far in between.


5 Nominations for Best Gig/Live Music Event:

Whitesnake (Year of the Snake Tour) and Journey (Eclipse Tour), plus special guests Thunder; Bon Jovi Because We Can Tour; British Summer Time Festival Featuring Bush, Kaiser Chiefs and Bon Jovi (Because We Can Tour); Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Wrecking Ball Tour; Womad (World of Music and Dance) Festival.

And the runner up is…

It might seem surprising that Bon Jovi are my runners up, considering what a huge fan I am and how much I’d been looking forward to seeing them after two years without a Bon Jovi gig. The truth is, I was a bit disheartened (and still am) by the lack of Richie and whatever is or isn’t going on in the band, and that’s what’s knocked this into second place for me. While I did have a great time, it just wasn’t the same without Richie there. It was still a brilliant gig though, and I’m referring especially to the Cardiff gig rather than the British Summer Time festival. While the festival had a longer set list, the crowd atmosphere was a bit tense and strange, and so it couldn’t match up to the Cardiff gig (even though I was a bit peeved that we seemed to get a shorter set than some of the other venues on the tour). Plus I went to the Cardiff gig with a friend who’d never seen the band before, and was SO EXCITED to see them for the first time, it made it a really enjoyable and fun evening (even though it was pissing down with rain).

And the winner of Best Gig/Live Music Event of 2013 is…

Goodness me, I just can’t get enough of Bruce these days! I went to see him in Cardiff having owned two albums and one best of; within about a month of seeing him I’d gone out and bought about twelve more albums. That’s how brilliant it was! There was such an amazing vibe that I really enjoyed the whole night, even though I didn’t know most of the songs on the set list. And what a set! It lasted for at least three hours, there’s no doubting that we definitely got our money’s worth! I can’t really describe the atmosphere, but it was quite unlike any gig I’ve ever been to before, and I can tell you now that I’ll be jumping at any and every opportunity to see The Boss again.

So that’s it, those are my highs of 2013, and hopefully there’ll be plenty more to come this year. I would urge you to get your hands on my top books and films if you haven’t already, so you can see what all the fuss is about for yourself. And if you feel like finding out about them in a bit more detail, all of the nominations, runners up and winners are linked to my original reviews. Be warned though, all reviews are likely to contain spoilers. I’d also love to know what you think about my choices, what your favourites would have been, and what you thought of any of the nominations. Please feel free to drop me a comment, either here or on the original review pages. Now, let’s see what delights we can come up with for 2014!


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