We lost ourselves. Lost our dream. In the pursuit of great, we failed to do good.
I don’t generally make a habit of reviewing tv shows – I watch few enough, only a handful of them SFF, and I finish even fewer. But Arcane…Arcane deserves an exception. That a videogame tie-in animated series, and one for a game I’ll never play or care about, would have turned out to be one of the best-written things of the year was not on anyone’s bingo card, but it sure is a welcome surprise regardless.
And we’re all a little frayed around the edges, aren’t we? It doesn’t surprise me and it doesn’t frighten me, finding out you’re only human like the rest of us.
This is one of my favourite finds this year.
Have you ever wondered what happens to children violently thrown from portal fantasy worlds? Do you think Susan from Narnia deserved better? Are you looking for something quiet and melancholy? Did you wish the Wayward Children novellas were darker and longer? Then you should absolutely read it.
Time for another mini review post to clear out my backlog a bit!
While it’s true that in the past few months the most I managed to finish was the occasional novella or romance book, I found some really, really good ones. If anyone else is looking for shorter (all except Slippery Creatures are novellas) or lighter reads, here are some I’d suggest.
“You think I’m going to tell you now when we’re this close? Half the appeal of having you tag along is the fact that you dissolve into a puddle of unintelligible enthusiasm every time we come across something remotely interesting. […] It’s a real treat, watching you fall in love with the things I love.”
Heretic’s Guide is a paradox. I want to shout its praises from the rooftops because how come that I’ve never heard of it before Lynn recommended it to me when it’s so good and so relatable? (Not to mention the gorgeous cover. I had to go for the paperback.) But on the other hand, I almost want to keep it secret and not tell anyone it exists, because I couldn’t stand someone disliking it and being harsh about it. This is, quite possibly, one of the hardest and yet most necessary reviews I ever wrote.
Because I’ve never been this personally attached to a book before. Sure, there’s been my eternal favourite, The Gray House, which has a lot of themes that resonate with me, or The Curse of Chalion, my forever comfort read. But neither of them felt this intimate and I can easily shrug off the thought of someone hating them.
ARC received from the publisher (Del Rey) in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes, you just have a powerful feeling that you’re going to love a book and in my experience, that instinct is never to be ignored. Bonds of Brass first came to my attention randomly, on twitter. Still in the depths of my Star Wars obsession and salty over Rise of Skywalker (oh so salty), I had to request it. It seemed tailor-made for what I wanted and needed.
And it was fantastic. What it promised, it delivered in spades. Fast-paced, yup. Heavily Star Wars inspired, yup. Fun, fanfic-style romantic tropes, yup. More twists than a ship executing a complex maneuver, yup. And that ending. Holy fuck. It’s the kind of book you read popcorn in hand, and then recommend to friends to watch their reactions popcorn in hand too. I’d say it even overdelivered – in places, I could barely manage a few pages at a time because the tension was too high and I was too afraid for the characters.
If a highly entertaining but not necessarily relaxing story is what you’re looking for, this is the perfect book for you.
“Terrible things will always happen. They happened on Kiffex and they happen on Naboo and they happen on Tatooine. There will always be a war, and there will always be someone who wants us locked up. But the only thing we can do is survive, Sen. Survive until they won’t let us.”
When I heard the words “Jawa POV,” I instantly knew that From a Certain Point of View is something I simply must read. It’s no secret by now that I’m madly in love with Star Wars. And my obsession with slice of life and perspectives of more ordinary people is well established. A crossover of the two? A match made in heaven, despite my dislike of short stories and anthologies.
Here it is, the show that turned my most stubbornly reluctant self into a massive Star Wars fan. Initially, I thought I’d give an episode a try out of curiosity, that I’d watch it for Baby Yoda. I was gloriously wrong. I fell in love with every single aspect of the show, from the titular Mandalorian, to the world, the soundtrack, other characters, and I fell in love hard. I fell in love with it as I fell in love with The Gray House, the obsessive, all-consuming, dorky passion that’s as intense as it is rare. It made me happy in a time when I needed it the most.
I have talked about it some in the intro already, but I really did not want to go into it too much until it was finished and I have watched all the episodes, just in case it fucked up in the later episodes. Which I’m glad to say it did not! After the last episode, I can comfortably say this is my favourite show, and generally one of my favourite pieces of media ever.
Station Eleven is the best book I regret ever picking up. It’s absolutely brilliant…and there lies the problem. The vision of the apocalypse, the characters, people’s reactions – it all felt too real. Visceral, human, and deeply, deeply sad. It got under my skin to the point I wondered whether I should stop reading. I’m unused to books hitting me as hard as this. I think the last one was The Unwomanly Face of War, but that was nonfiction, and well over a year ago.
Some of them took turns trying to sleep in the moving caravans, others walking and walking until their thoughts burned out one by one like dying stars and they fell into a fugue state wherein all that mattered or had ever existed were these trees, this road, the counterpoint rhythms of human footsteps and horses’ hooves, moonlight turning to darkness and then the summer morning, caravans rippling like apparitions in the heat, and now the Symphony was scattered here and there by the roadside in a state of semi-collapse while they waited for dinner to be ready.
But at the point it was already too late; if it’s going to stick in my mind like a painful splinter no matter what, I might as well finish. So I did. I went into the book largely blind, knowing only it was postapocalyptic, literary, and slice of life, and I think it may have been for the better, so if this was enough to convince you, stop reading here.
I have thought this novella was just what I wanted. Something short, something warm, something familiar, right? I didn’t expect it’d be so sad – much sadder than the other Wayward Children novellas so far – but then, I read Every Heart a Doorway, I should have.
At eight years old, Katherine Lundy already knew the shape of her entire life. Could have drawn it on a map if pressed: the long highways of education, the soft valleys of settling down. She assumed, in her practical way, that a husband would appear one day, summoned out of the ether like a necessary milestone, and she would work at the library while he worked someplace equally sensible, and they would have children of their own, because that was how the world was structured.
Unfortunately, it also suffered from pacing issues.
Every once in a while, I get a mad compulsion to read a book. I hear of something, and it won’t give me peace until I go and read it – and without a fail, those books prove to be my favourites. So it was with The Name of the Wind all those years ago, or The Curse of Chalion, or more recently The Gray House. And so it is here. Outside of my usual wheelhouse or no, I had to have it and yet again my instinct has proven correct. I wanted to yell about it from the rooftops before I was halfway through. I finished it in less than a day. It satisfied the craving for more Witchmark left beyond perfectly.
“Of course I could have turned them out into the fields, to laugh and cry like that with no roof to shield them. Maybe in another world, that would be best, but…” Archie got up stiffly, muscles aching from holding Rufus against the trunk of the apple tree the night before. “Not in this one. In this world, love needs shelter. And as long as the rectory’s standing, I’m going to provide it.”
If you’re looking for extremely well-written, atmospheric m/m romance with a slight fantasy twist this is very likely a book for you.