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Everything posted by Venneh

  1. I finally finished my first proper playthrough of this, two years later. And by playthrough, I have played through all three routes and achieved the five major endings (and a few joke endings too). I also got the end credits, and gifted my save to someone else, which means I’m now starting from square one again. Theres a reason this game has managed to hold its own, even being released in the same month as fucking Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I can’t believe I waited this long to seriously tackle it. It’s goddamn amazing. The controls can be a bit janky at times, and there are times that jumps don’t function correctly. Having to deal with one of our three characters not having proper non ripped clothing for part of her playthrough (PETITION TO PLEASE GET A2 SOME FUCKING PANTS OR MAYBE A GODDAMN SKIRT). But as rough as these things can be, they’re still pretty minor in the overall scheme of things. There are two moments that define my playthrough. The first was during a moment when I was playing as A2, when she’s getting to know Pascal’s village. I hadn’t saved in a hot moment, and I was in the process of getting the kids a slide. I accidentally triggered the events that led to Bad Things happening at the village. I closed the game, knowing I was about to lose a chunk of progress, because fuck this, I was going to get those kids their slide. And then everything that happens with that village happens, and I actually had to stop playing the game for a half hour because I was crying so hard. The second was the ending credits, or ending E. I suck, period, at shooters of that nature. I started crying at the encouraging messages, and when I accepted help, and the background chorus swelled up on the ending song, I was out and out bawling. And of course I gave up my save data. How could I not after that? go play this game. There’s a game of the year edition out now. Enjoy the dlc where you can fight Squenix’s CEO. Fucking do it.
  2. Super Smash Bros Ultimate: Just finished my first round through Adventure Mode, which was a fun way to turn off my brain. As far as I can tell there’s a new game +, so I’ll probably do that too. Haven’t tried fighting online yet, should probably do that. Cadence of Hyrule: Yeah, this is Good Shit. Rhythm game plus Zelda plus rogue like elements (but what feels like way more player friendly from what I know of Crypt of the Necrodancer = fun times, for actual real. I generally use rhythm games to relax, but this was just straight up fun to do, especially as you got a hang of things and got better weapons. Did I play this through mostly as Zelda? Absolutely yes. Though I want to try this in 2P mode.
  3. Land of the Lustrous v8: This feels like it’s building towards a conclusion, or at least escalating even more. This is becoming full existential horror on a level I was not expecting, and Ichikawa just continues to do an amazing job on the art work. Looking forward to seeing what happens in v9. Trades/Tankobon: 24Single Issues: 34
  4. More catch up, going to try to write these up soon: Astro City 50: Support group for the aftermath of another major event in Astro City. A solid one shot, I don’t feel compelled to read more tbh, but still a good read The Amazing Spider-Man 801: A sweet one shot about a man growing up and how his life intersects with Spider Man’s. But also brings up a bunch of questions unintentionally about how/if Peter ages. War of the Realms War Scrolls 2: A Dr Strange and Daredevil/Fisk story that are solid but that I honestly don’t give a shit about. I’m here for the Loki and Wiccan at a drag brunch and reckoning with Wiccan’s future and Loki’s past, and their intersection. Would love to see an ongoing with Billy and Teddy. Shipwreck (tpb): Warren Ellis weirdness as a miniseries, with Phil Hester providing amazing art even as he was dealing with macular degeneration. Good solid read, I will probably not remember this towards the end of the year tbh. By Chance or Providence (original b+w edition): Becky Cloonan does amazing gothic vaguely fantasy stories, and I continue to boggle at how fucking good she is. What Is Left: One: Shortbox is probably one of the best publishers for short zine type comics today. Two: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is a talent I really need to pay attention to. Short sci fi comic about the survivor of a spaceship explosion experiencing the memories of the donor that provided the energy to keep the ship going. Gorgeous pastel color palette and amazing art, and just an atmospheric plot. Keeping this in my purse to lend out to people bc it’s that good. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me: First fucking Second is doing publishing work that no one else seems to be thinking of (possibly bc it has Macmillan money behind it), but is right in the area that needs to be targeted - YA, queers, lesbians. This is a YA book about dealing with your first fuckboi (boi here being gender neutral bc it’s a lesbian, either way it’s someone who’s bad for you), and figuring out how to deal with that as a person. It captures that feeling absolutely gorgeously with Tamaki’s writing and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s art. The way the entire book is colored (black, white, or pastel pink) and the atmosphere that Rosemary does with the art here is astounding. This is one of those “I need to lend this out to everyone I know” books. Are You Listening: This comes out this fall, and I will need to get this when it comes out, bc the ARC we got at this point does not have full color work, and that is only going to add to this book’s impact. I was frustrated with the marketing person who invoked Ghibli, but the magic it invokes, both on the road trip and the ever so slight fantasy element to the larger plot, absolutely fit that description. It’s about two young women facing loss of a parent and confronting the truth about the abuse she’s been through, and the unintentional and life changing road trip they end up taking together. Tillie Walden continues to be a voice to watch, and First Second continues to be one of my favorite publishers. Trades/Tankobon: 23Single Issues: 34
  5. Again, to catch up on writing at some point: Livewire vol 1: Vita Ayala basically gets her shot at writing Not The X-Men that also relies on knowledge of recent Valiant material that I honestly have not followed. But hey, it’s Valiant’s first book following one of their black female heroes, and they got a very good black female writer to do it. Good on them, tbh. Allèn and Martìn do gorgeous art, unsurprisingly. Xena 1: Another Ayala book, good one shot about children paying for the sins of their parents, also something with Discord and Xena and Gabrielle being gay as hell. That’s honestly all I remember. About Betty’s Boob: The artist deserves most of the credit here, tbh - this is largely a silent story, and there are times where it feels like it goes a bit too over the top in what’s going on (which I attribute mostly to the writer), but god if it isn’t gorgeous to look at. FCBD -Dear Justice League: Gustavo Duarte doing the Justice League answering kids’ questions is an incredible thing that I’m surprised hasn’t been done as a general concept sooner. Definitely getting this when it comes out. -Kodansha: Good range in this sampler; a library manga that I’ve honestly forgotten at the time that I’m writing this, classic Cardcaptor Sakura in time for the collectors edition release, and Little Witch Atelier, which is gorgeous and intriguing. Apparently the artist has done cover work for DC and Marvel, which is the only thing they think is worth mentioning about her. Also the next person to describe something as Ghibli-esque as lazy shorthand gets the back of mine. --Vertical: Kino’s Journey, oh my. Trades/Tankobon: 19Single Issues: 30
  6. (Writing these down now, will expand later) When I Came to the Castle: Emily fuckin’ Carroll. Gothic horror woven through with sensuality. It’s been amazing to watch her grow as an artist as she’s moved from online comics to print comics, and she’s using what she learned in one medium to do new boundary pushing things with the other. Yes, yes, and yes. WicDiv 43: Third to last issue, and jfc, the things the boys do here. Excellent deconstruction. Wonder Woman Earth One Vol 2: At the time I’m finally writing this up, the main things I can remember about this is: Paquette does gorgeous art, and Dr Psycho is a MRA/PUA. Also lots of Nazis? My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies: Brubaker and Phillips do another astoundingly effective one off about Bad People Making Even Worse Decisions, but it’s a song and dance they do well. Dept H v4: Everything finally comes around again in the end, and this makes me want to reread the whole thing one more time. The Kindts are an amazing team, and they don’t feel tempted to extend things out; they gave themselves 24 issues to tell this story, and they don’t push beyond it. Trades/Tankobon: 17Single Issues: 26
  7. Black Beetle in “No Way Out”: Francavilla gets to do some gorgeous pulp style art, and I’m 90% sure there’s a sequence where one of the mob goons who gets beat up is based on Warren Ellis. A fun, quick read. Skyward 11: Decided to peek my head back in here. Garbett’s art continues to be dynamic, no clue what’s happening plot wise. Snotgirl 13: Continues to be a fun pretty book with what looks like some minorly crazy subplots going on. Maneaters 7: ....yeah, peeked my head in on this, has kind of reinforced that I’ve been right about not putting the effort in to follow this. Isola 7: Pretty fantasy, probably something I’ll try to follow on the trade. Monstress 21: Malika’s asshole dad comes into the picture, more political intrigue, and Jesus fucking Christ Sana Takeda is insanely good at what she does. Criminal 3: Actually a continuation of last issue’s story, and a hell of a bitter conclusion. I’m here for this shit. Die 5: And now the shape of things is revealed. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Hans continues to do gorgeous work. I’m in. Mirror 10: Yeah, I decided to read the last issue of a series I hadn’t picked up at all, but damn if it isn’t gorgeous. Redlands 12: Combination origin issue and villain monologue to set up the next arc. I’m here for this. Ascender 1: Interesting continuation of Descender, now leaning into “technology so advanced it seems like magic” side of things. Let’s see where this goes. Trades/Tankobon: 13Single Issues: 25
  8. Spinning: Tillie Walden’s autobiographical comic about her middle and high school skating career and her queer awakening, alongside her first real dealing with depression and anxiety. This is primarily in black and white with occasional amazing highlights on gold, which I love. Nice read during an evening soak. Bad Girls: Is this the best title in the world? Hell no. Is it a great heist story about three women stealing 6 mil and trying to get out of Cuba on the evening of the Cuban revolution, and a girl trying to find Marlon Brando who ends up getting swept along in the actual revolution happening? Yes. Victor Santos does a mostly solid job on the art, but his women look a bit weird at times. Definitely fun though. Trades/Tankobon: 12Single Issues: 15
  9. 14. Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson: Wilson’s first novel, and one I’m genuinely surprised I haven’t gotten to before now. It’s a combination of cyberpunk and Middle Eastern myth with the Arab Spring percolating in the background. The combination of these myths with a significant discussion of the idea of faith and how it affects both these mythological peoples and the people living in the world. There are some wonderful characters, good explanations of computing for those who don’t entirely get it, and a wonderfully compelling plot that unfolds, especially for a first foray into fiction. As much as I love her comics writing, I’d love to see more of her in novels. Also: fuck yeah Vikram. 15. We All Should Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche: A chapbook transcription of her TED Talk on feminism, and a fantastic talk at that. Also I needed a quick read and this was definitely it. 16. Lost Children Archives, Valeria Luiselli: Luiselli’s first full length novel written in English. This is about partners whose relationship is falling apart, the kids caught in the middle of it, and an intersection with the migration crisis on the road trip they take. The best way I can describe this is “very interesting”. It’s a combination of illustrations, POV narration, and a narrative within a narrative that’s a response/allusion to various works about journeys/migrations, according to the author. After a certain point it just feels like she’s trying to do too much. The introduction of the ten year old boy’s voice part of the way through doesn’t entirely land for me, nor does the chapter that’s a single run on sentence with various things that there’s no way he could have known at that age. (The end chapter where he records something to his stepsister did hit, though.) Still definitely worth a read, just didn’t entirely land for me. 17. Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward: A memoir about Ward’s life growing up in the South, her parents’ divorce, how that affected her emotional state growing up, tied together by five deaths among her family and friends that happened in as many years and how her experiences growing up were reflected in their deaths. It’s a rough, harrowing, but gorgeous read. 18. Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table, Boris Fishman: The parts of this memoir that focus on anyone except the author (his parents and grandparents, their lives before and after immigrating to America, his grandfather’s home nurse, the recipes), are all amazing. The parts that specifically focus on the author make me want to punch him in the face. Repeatedly. Still a solid read. 19. The Cruel Prince, Holly Black: Pure YA faerie junk food, and some days, that’s just what you need. Solid plotting, complicated family dynamics, that good good enemies to lovers trope. Will this win any awards, or will I remember this towards the end of the year? Lol no. Is it something nice and light to read for now, with characters from the books I read as a teen cameoing? Oh yes. 20. Xenofeminism, Helen Hester: I came into this book hoping for an expansion on the Xenofeminist Manifesto, and for one brief shining 36 page chapter, I got it. Then most of the rest of the book was a case study of a specific technology from the 70s, and that case study barely remembered to focus on women of color and transwomen (less than a quarter of the case study chapter). The way this tended to careen from topic to topic and some very rote “I am going to cover x in this next section/chapter” make this feel like this was someone’s tenure paper or maaaaaaybe their senior thesis that got published, and less the further dive that I was hoping to get. I’ve been struggling with this one for a while, and I managed to finally finish it waiting in this DHS office today, and I’m mildly frustrated with it. That the author appears to be a white female associate professor makes all of the former even more frustrating. But hey, I got to read the word Cthulucene.
  10. Delicious in Dungeon v 5 + 6: I wondered how they were going to keep this going, but man, this got. Uh. Real dark all of a sudden. Let’s see how fucked up this gets! Bloom: Kevin Panetta and Savannah Ganucheau do a super sweet graphic novel about a budding romance between two boys and them growing up and figuring out how not to suck at things like communicating and what they want from life. The art style is wonderful, the stakes aren’t stupidly high story wise, and the baking (and recipes!) are lovingly depicted. A very sweet (no pun intended) story. (Also, First Second continues to be the only publisher I’ve seen that includes things like flowcharts to suggest other books readers might like from them. Publishers should really do things like this more often.) 10 Dance v2: We get to see a competition, and we learn the crazy ass history between the competitors. The slow burn continues to build, and it’s fun to see them on an international stage. My Solo Exchange Diary v2: Well this took a hell of a turn. She writes honestly about her breakdown and issues with alcohol, and how recovery from mental illness isn’t exactly a linear process. This is all there is for now, but I do hope she updates. Buffy 2-3: Again, Dan Mora does great work on the art, Jordie Bellaire does wonderful twists on the characters we know and building the first “episode” as it were here. Xander seems to be going in a very interesting direction in particular. (Also yay for establishing Willow in a non straight relationship right off the bat!) Trades/Tankobon: 10Single Issues: 15
  11. 11. Pachinko, Min Jin Lee: This was nominated for the National Book Award, is apparently getting a drama series based on it on a streaming service, and is probably the first work of fiction aimed at the English reading audience that I’ve seen that focuses on Koreans in Japan. The way that Koreans are treated in Japan is probably one of the most blatant examples of racism in a non Western society. The novel focuses on four generations of a Korean family who immigrated to Japan, starting in the late 1800s, with a wide, her husband, and their daughter, and ending around 1990, with the daughter’s full grown grandchildren. The themes that repeat themselves through the generations are the discrimination that the family experiences, how they manage to get through, ideas of power, family loyalty, ideas of integrity, and how things keep coming back to the game of Pachinko (and how you keep playing even though it may be rigged against you). The story mostly focuses on Sunja, though it may shuffle between her sister and brother in law, her parents, her children, and grandchildren (usually right about when you might start to lose interest in her thread), but always comes back to her in the end. It’s fascinating to watch their story unfold over the years but how certain experiences always seem to repeat over the generations. This is in the upper middle of what I’ve read so far this year, and will probably stay solidly in the middle of what I read overall. 12. Black Leopard Red Wolf, Marlon James: This is... I probably am not going to know how I feel about this book until the next book in the trilogy comes out. James has point blank said that Rashomon is a core influence here, and that the next book in the series is going to open with “Everything you read before is not true.” So part of me is reading this with the framing idea of the narrator being unreliable. I’m sincerely hoping that the next book is going to have the point of view of one of the few women in the party who doesn’t get dead or raped over the course of this book. The book is gorgeously written, in the style of oral storytelling, and the POV of a black gay man is not one you typically see in fantasy. That said, this book’s POV character is kind of the epitome of toxic masculinity, and there are points where it is deeply uncomfortable to read this book. Tons of rape of men women and children, and mutilation and violation of the same. If there is a woman, she is either a whore, a witch, a schemer, or some combination of the three, and there’s a few points where the author seems to be calling him out in the book, but it doesn’t get through to him. Marlon James has never been one for this kind of POV, so it strikes me as an oddity. Lots of violence. There’s an entire section where we get to see a gay man with a husband and children happy and alive, but they end up violently dead. There’s certain threads in this that make me understand the comparisons to Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, but lord whichever marketing person chose that comparison missed the damn mark. Either way it’s a hell of a read, but one that will take a lot out of you. 13. The True Queen, Zen Cho: This is a straight up fun romp of a sequel to Sorcerer to the Crown. It’s the kind of sequel where main characters from the last book show up in minor roles, new characters are centered, and the world is expanded, which is the kind of sequel I love. We get more of Mak Genggang here, and Malaysian systems of magic, and their spirits’ response to the western system of magic (a particularly notable line has a character saying that someone is asking for favors like the Dutch ask for land), and more of a post colonial response to definite colonial goings on. We also get a lesbian couple (and they spend most of the book being clueless around each other which is one of my favorite trope of all time) front and center in the book. It’s just a fun, good read, and some days, that’s what you need above all else. You can read this even if you didn’t read the original (though I will recommend doing so, because it’s also pretty fantastic.) Fun, funny, and an overall great read. Pick this up when it comes out in March, you won’t regret it.
  12. Finished it all in two days. Fantastic riff on the original two volumes that get a deeper dive due to the length of the show, and just a real good time. Trust me Mike, you're gonna want to stick to it. It's worth it.
  13. Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite and Dallas: Reread in light of the Netflix adaptation. Still good, fun shit with wonderful art. Trades/Tankobon: 5Single Issues: 13
  14. Die 3: o hai fantasy masterclass and deconstruction, I am here for this. Still skeptical that Hans can keep up on a monthly schedule, but the art continues to be amazing. Unnatural 7: Mirka Andolfo does supernatural furry comics, it pretty Vindication 1: I know Image really prides itself on not having editors but uh maybe they should. Just saying. Yiiiiiiikes. Criminal 2: Brubaker and Phillips do a very thinly veiled take on Steve Ditko But A Dirtbag, and apparently the issues aren’t all going to be the same story chronologically, which should be interesting. Blackbird 5: I haven’t picked this up in a few issues, but they make it easy to follow, and it’s so neat to watch Jen Bartel leveling up art wise. East of West 41: Combination flashback and setup issue for what’s to come. I’m interested to see what’s to come. Seven to Eternity 13: Well, it looks like Remender is attempting to wrap this up? Maybe? I mean, it’s been so sporadically released I wouldn’t be surprised. But damn dat Opena tho. Monstress 20: SANA TAKEDA PRETTY, also some stuff going on in the background plot wise that I’m still trying to figure out. Trades/Tankobon: 3Single Issues: 13
  15. Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku v3: Continues to be a funny and sappy as hell romance manga focusing on (three now!) nerdy couples. This is finally past what the anime has adapted so far, so it’s all new material, and I continue to like the two volumes in one approach to translation. 10 Dance v1: An old school boy’s love manga - slow burn, rivals turned dance partners turned ???, polar opposites, the whole nine yards. I’ll definitely read more when it comes out. Trades/Tankobon: 3 Single Issues: 5
  16. And finished it! Kingdom Hearts 3: Worth waiting since high school for. Is this perfect? Fuck no. The last part of the game feels pretty rushed in terms of wrapping up the story (and one character in particular getting the shaft), and the Frozen and Pirates worlds would be deeply improved by, say, a skip button. But the combat is fucking great (yes, it's a bit mashy between two buttons, but man if it doesn't flow like none other), the ability to switch between various forms for your Keyblade is wonderful (shield! magic guns! BEATING THE FINAL BOSS WITH A GODDAMN YO-YO), when the worlds hit the right notes they hit them hard (raise your hand if the Big Hero 6 world personally victimized you), and the music is amazing.They also added more save points during the endgame run, which, thank fuck. And yeah, there are deep nostalgia buttons that are hit with this game, but they hit them on the right notes, and I'm probably going to be playing through again. I would love to see DLC that gives us new worlds or expands the story (you can get through this in 30-40 hours, and while that's great, I expect significantly longer from a KH game). Also, play the cooking minigame. Totally worth it.
  17. 1. Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World, Sheila Rowbotham: Originally published in England in the 70s, this focuses on the roles of women in capitalism and how women’s lib has connections to socialism, and how women are treated even in revolutionary movements. It also ties the author’s personal experience into the general writing she does connecting socialism and feminism, which makes it way less dry than a treatise like this could’ve been. Boyfriend got me this for my birthday, and it’s a relatively quick read, and a good way to start out the year. 2. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton: This is a hell of a first book. It’s a cross between a locked room mystery and a time travel narrative - one person reliving the same day from different points of view to solve a murder, in order to be freed from the time loop he finds himself in. It’s an incredibly well written mystery, except for a few small points. What exactly Blackheath is and who the main character is and why he’s there is left to too late in the book for you to fully get a sense of that part of the mystery, and I feel like it could’ve been revealed sooner on to give it more room to breathe. That aspect also has a hell of a thing to say about rehabilitation and forgiveness, and I feel like there’s a whole other novel there. There’s also some ableism and fat phobia in random parts that leaves a sour taste in your mouth. The core mystery comes together wonderfully though, and was a fun, winding read. Take a look when it comes out in paperback! 3. In An Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire: First off: the cover colors on this are goddamn gorgeous. I was looking forward to this, because Seanan’s take on the Goblin Market is something I’ve wanted to see for a while. But it’s not just about the idea of fair value here (though she makes it very clear that there’s also a very deep seated rage against capitalism in her take on fair value). It’s a story of two girls, and their relationship, and how that plays against Lundy’s relationship and obligations to her family, and how she interacts with the Market. You already know that it won’t end well, if you’ve read the other books, but watching it get there is heartbreaking and beautiful. 4. The Xenofeminist Manifesto, Laboria Cuboniks: Ill be blunt here: you’re absolutely paying for the production values on this, but damn are they some hella sweet production values. It’s a fairly straight forward manifesto: gender and capitalism blow, and we think technology can liberate and fix everything that’s wrong with them. They emphasize evolving past gender, but I feel like this could be repurposed too easily by the MRA/terf lot. This was written back in ‘15, so I would be particularly interested to see what their take on the internet as it’s become today would be. There does appear to be a theory reader out there, so I’m interested in reading more. 5. The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, Peter Brannen: Found this in the remaindered section at our bookstore with a rec from our friend, so I picked it up. This is a neat combination of an explainer of the former mass extinction events that Earth has undergone, interviews with specialists on these time periods and the events, descriptions of trips to field sites, and lyric descriptions of the events themselves. I took this about two chapters a night, and it was a pretty even pace - very readable, great way of relating information without making it too overwhelming. It also is very clear that it’s also a book about climate change, and how past events compare to what we’re doing now, and even speculation into the future. Definitely read this if you find it. 6. A Peoples’ Future of the United States, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams: A fantastic speculative fiction anthology that is both a response to Trump’s election and the hellscape we are all living in these days, and a fantastic collection of speculative fiction ranging from hard sci-fi to decolonized futures to very deliberate fuck yous to the current political landscape. One of the hardest things to do in an anthology is balance known quantities (authors who will be able to turn in a good short story on time) with the name draws (NK Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, G Willow Wilson), and bringing in new discoveries. This is due out February 5th, and you are in for a treat when it comes out. 7. Miranda in Milan, Katharine Duckett: And tonight in “well shit, I didn’t expect to mainline this in a few hours, but here we are”: this exquisite ARC from Publishing. This comes out at the end of March, and man, you will want to read this when it does. It’s a continuation of the Tempest, and focuses both on Miranda’s brave new world, and some of the darker implications of what Prospero was up to. Also: queer as hell, and women righting the wrongs that have been done to them by dickhead men. This is a bit simplistic description, yes, but I don’t want to give away the twists. There’s a bit of structuring that could have been done better, I feel, but man, that’s really the only thing I can say against it, and for an author’s first published work, I’m not going to count it as a major strike against it. It’s 131 pages, so you can go through it in, say, an hour and a half like I did here, and it’s the perfect size for a commute. 8. Forest of Memory, Mary Robinette Kowal: Quick 80 page story that I’m reasonably sure was posted on originally, but makes a quick engrossing read. It’s a quick spin on the idea of the antiquities dealer, but set in the future, and what if the person’s experience is what’s valuable to a collector? There’s some really neat riffs in the story itself where spelling mistakes and strike throughs are preserved in the story because it’s written on a typewriter, but it adds a neat touch. Worth a read, especially with a Victo Ngai cover. 9. China in Ten Words, Yu Hua, translated by Allan H Barr: A collection of ten essays by a native Chinese author about both growing up during the Cultural Revolution and Chinese society with the introduction of capitalism. I mainly knew Yu Hua from To Live (we read excerpts and watched the movie in a class in college), so it was fascinating to see his perspective and background on “the Chinese miracle”. Solid choice on the ten words he used to theme his essays, too. 10. Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace: I got this in physical form recently as well as on sale digitally a bit before that, and I finally took that as a sign to get off my ass and read it. And then I ended up reading something like 80% of it in the space of tonight. The world building and rules of the ghost world are done exquisitely, and the journey that the girl and the ghost take, and the history that is revealed all combine to encourage you to just keep turning the page and don’t fucking stop until you get answers, or as close as they come here, or at least see what the hell is going to happen next. I’ve heard very good things about this from people whose taste I trust, and every one of them was right. There’s another book, and I’m interested to see where it goes, because this book seemed like a straightforward one and done. Quick, compelling, and darkly gorgeous.
  18. KH DDD: Yeah, I got to Riku's section in the final world and just decided to watch the rest of the game. Might come back to it, because I thought I was past the point where I could switch back to Sora's POV, but apparently I was wrong! Still way too much going on, especially with the Dreams as Pokemon mechanic, but Flowmotion/Command Decks worked well enough. KH .2 ~A Fragmentary Passage~: This feels like it was the proof of concept for KH3 - that it could work in the Unreal engine, and that after a fucking decade, they could actually pull off a ground up rebuild of the battle system. Unsurprisingly, it's goddamn gorgeous. Battle system handles incredibly well, didn't use the shortcuts too much but will probably be using them in KH3. Story feels like a bit of a retcon - MICKEY YOU ASS YOU RAN INTO AQUA HOWEVER MANY YEARS AGO AND YOU DIDN'T DRAG HER ASS OUT WITH YOU?! - to set up KH3 stuff, but hey, it's Kingdom Hearts, it's convoluted as shit, I'm just gonna let it happen at this point. Pretty sure that the ending cutscenes are the first few scenes in KH3, too? Overwatch: Continues to be my brain turn off game, pretty much switch between Ashe and Moira, with secondary on Ham Ham, Lucio and Mei. Capture the Flag is fun from the new event, like that they added Busan to the mode.
  19. Die 2: Yeah, I'm here for this. I'll be interested to see if Hans can keep up on a monthly schedule, though. WicDiv 41: HELL YEAH HELL YEAH HELL FUCKIN' YEAH. Deadly Class 36: Oh look, it's another drug trip issue. I am so very compelled by this content. /sarcasm Buffy 1: I'm actually kind of interested to see how this goes, and how much of a hand Whedon will actually have in this versus the rein they might give Jordie. Monstress 19: Comic real pretty, here for this fantasy ass shit. Trades: 1 Single Issues: 5
  20. 97. The Winter of the Witch, Katherine Arden: So. I applied for ARC access for this book on a whim, on the basis that I had the first book in my library and not thinking I’d get it. And then I did. So I decided that to be fair to it, I’d read that first book, along with finding a copy of the second book, before I got to this ARC. I found some of the ideas in the first book interesting, but found they got thrown aside for elements I wasn’t that interested in. The second book was frustrating attempts to set groundwork for the third book and things bought up to be thrown aside suddenly in favor of oh hey third book! And then we get to this. I have a thing where I will read an entire book, even if it makes me want to throw it against a goddamn wall, because I want to be fair to it. And then I tear it a new one. This is me doing that, because I read through this book, all 384 pages, in the last twenty four hours or so, and Jesus fucking Christ this book. I should’ve fucking quit when the author decided to explicitly code the supposed big bad with queer villain tropes. I thought maybe someone would tell her maybe this wasn’t a good idea. They didn’t. I came this close to throwing the book when the priest he seduced was described as having “lips and hands as delicate as a woman’s”. Did you know our main character is both Russian folk spirit AND witch AND Russian royalty descended? And beloved of the winter king? And also Baba Yaga’s heir? AND the sister of a mythical monk character from history that Arden wanted to have as her final battle in the book, but didn’t realize that she made it seem like the book was over two thirds of the way through? Oh and the big bad sides with her because she’s just that awesome. Throw in a bunch of rape threats, clumsy wrapping up of loose plot threads, sex that the author can’t commit to describing, and pretty mediocre writing, and I am actually somewhat angry that I committed the time I did to this trilogy. It’s her first book series, and I guess the editor didn’t really want to criticize her?? Or they wanted to get on the “fantasy set in not European cultures” wave but didn’t actually want to put effort in. Mediocrity is something I can usually let well enough alone. But shit like this actually makes me angry, especially when it’s a white woman getting a chance to publish this shit while NK Jemisin takes 20 years to get a career under her. 98. Silence, Shusaku Endo: To know why this is so affecting, you need to know that Endo is a Japanese Catholic who wrestled continually with the role of his faith versus the culture he was raised in, and the history of what that culture had done to that faith. The story focuses on a Portuguese priest who goes looking for a mentor of his who may have apostatized, and is eventually captured and the crisis of faith that he experiences as the Japanese believers and fellow priest are martyred for his refusal to apostatize, but he himself is never tortured. The priest ends up taking on the role of Judas, and the examination of faith and the ensuing novel is a hell of a read, even almost fifty years removed from publication. It’s a classic for a reason - read it if you can. 99. The Fated Sky, Mary Robinette Kowal: Sequel to The Calculating Stars. Technically “hard” sci-if in how much it relies on science to explain space flight, but written well enough that it was something I could easily put down for a few weeks and still be able to pick up with ease when I did so again. I’m impressed at the depth to which Kowal built out the social aspects of the world, and in particular in this book, how racism and sexism would be exacerbated, especially in contained quarters in space. Our POV character isn’t perfect and does make mistakes, but she tries to learn at least. There's stuff we don’t see by way of being limited by our protagonist’s POV (especially since half the book is spent in space), but I do hope we get a bit of that corrected in the sequel. There’s one particular aspect (a particularly racist astronaut who is on the flight to Mars) that I do feel like was slightly not dealt with entirely, but I imagine that’s for the sequel. Not anywhere near my top twenty, but still a good solid read. 100. How Long Till Black Future Month?, NK Jemisin: I am genuinely surprised by this collection. Unsurprisingly, Jemisin is insanely good at writing short stories, and there are several ones in here that I actually wish were published elsewhere or at least online, because I want to share them with people. (The most notable of these is the story that opens the collection, “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”, which is a direct response to Ursula LeGuin’s famous short story.) There are almost no stories in here that I would consider passes, and I would gladly read any of these again. There are several proof of concept stories in here for novels she’s already written, too, so it’s fun to see where some novels originated. Basically, one of my top ten, and definitely worth another read. 101. Red Doc>, Anne Carson: This is a sequel to Autobiography of Red, definitely an experimental verse novel and moves into being more of its own thing. The first two thirds or so are very surreal but also a touch meta in that it feels like it’s Carson settling into what she wants to do with this narrative as Geryon figures out what he wants to do with himself. This didn’t hit for me until the last third or so, where he goes to be with his mother as she’s dying. Definitely worth reading through if you find it in a sales section, not sure if I’d read it at full price though. 102. The Light Between the Worlds, Laura Weymouth: Its very rare for me to go through a book in the space of a few hours (in this case, spent in the bath). That alone should tell you’re in for an amazing read. This is very much a response to CS Lewis and the Narnia books, and focuses on the sibling relationship, particularly between the sisters, and what their return to England after having lived several years in another world back in the bodies they were in when they left would actually look like. The two sisters have small markers that indicate that they’re responses to Susan and Lucy Pevensie, but they are their own characters, and watching their relationship be shaped by their time in the other world and their responses to it afterward is a gorgeous read. The only thing I’m mildly uncomfortable with is that a suicide attempt is posed as the fix to depression that results from one of the characters’ return to England, which is a bit iffy with the YA audience it’s aimed at. But otherwise, the frank look at depression and grief and trauma are a refreshing response to portal fantasy. Definitely worth a read. 103. A Paradise Built In Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, Rebecca Solnit: This is a pretty dense read, but this is a pretty extraordinary look at disasters and the reality of the aftermath and support that tends to pop up in their aftermath. There’s some historical coverage - the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, 9/11, the idea of the Mandate of Heaven, the London Blitz, the Halifax explosion, and other historical disaster scholars and media portrayals of disaster aftermath. But most interesting to me, and where the book likely began in earnest, was the narratives of the Katrina aftermath versus the reality of the racism of the government and National Guard and what happened to the citizens of New Orleans because of it, versus the community taking care of their own. It’s a pretty thorough rebuke of the post apocalyptic “every man for himself and everything will go to hell” narrative using actual historical examples. Definitely worth a read if you find it. 104. Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag: An essay about the role of photography in war, and how the exposure to the horror of war through war photography plays into or against the anti war sentiment. It’s a fantastically written essay that uses critical art theory and war history to interrogate the argument that media involvement in war actually numbs us to it, and it’s a pocket size hundred fifty page book that you can get through in an hourish read on the bus, for example. 105. Swordheart, T Kingfisher: God bless that she’s continuing this series - this is the same universe as Clockwork Boys, but a completely new setting and characters. This is basically her response to the character of Blackwall in DAI. The main plot is a romance between a middle aged widow trying to get her rightful inheritance, and the man in the magic sword she’s inherited. There’s priests who are lawyers, slime parasites, a great middle aged character, and more strokes that fill out the universe. Plus, it turns out there’s two more swords, and this is the start of a trilogy. YES. Great final read for the year.
  21. Harrow County v8: Hell of an ending to the story, and fantastic art to boot. Trades: 1
  22. (Reminder to self to attempt to remember what all I've read since August 21st, probably not gonna remember it all but by god I'm gonna try)