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September was a month full of things! Here's a collection of the media we loved and why.

Collage of cover images for various media.

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu — Check, Please! is an adorable webcomic about Eric "Bitty" Bittle, a new student at Samwell University and member of their hockey team. The comic follows him through his college experience, his struggles with hockey, friendship, in a mixture of vlog-style panels (as Bitty talks to us) and story-telling panels (as we watch him find his place at university and on the hockey team). It's so sweet, especially since Bitty loves to bake and is dedicated to spreading his love of baking to everyone else through the application of pies. There's nothing a good piece of pie can't fix. I don't follow hockey, so assumed I'd be confused before I started, but there are side characters who are hilarious who contextualize everything for you. It's a delight! — Renay

The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman — How to even begin to explain my love for this book? It's an SFF dystopian quest narrative, marketed as lit-fic, which made the Bailey's prize longlist, and it's written entirely in dialect. It's like someone pressed all the buttons in my nerd lift and now I get to stop at every floor.

The heroine, Ice Cream Star, is indescribably amazing: a trickster; a world weary leader; a broken hearted sister; a fighter; a stout friend, and a woman wrapped up in the worst kind of love. She is everything to me right now! My obsession with her comes close to my devotion to Nynissa so Dasheem so clearly it's serious. Newman has created her heroine's voice out of a patchwork, imaginative dialect which owes as much to botched up French, slang, and mashed "old world" pop culture references as it does to the rhythms of Shakespearian language. And Newman's approach to creating the world, characterisation, and the character's emotional responses is meticulously detailed.

Bear in mind, I say all this while also noting that the novel contains several tropey problems which deserve longer and more critical analysis. The romance - I really want everyone who reads this book to talk about the romance (as well as what happens to the two gay characters). Critical love is the deepest kind of love. — Jodie

Eyes I Dare Not Meet In Dreams by Sunny Moraine — I may have spent a lot of September grabbing people whenever they mentioned short stories and demanding to know if they've read this one. I really enjoyed it, which is not what I expected for a story about dead girls in refrigerators. There's a current of anger all through it, of being really done with girls being discarded and ignored until they make themselves impossible to ignore, and it's combined with some really spectacular turns of phrase that take my breath away. I really like the way that the dead girls themselves aren't explained, but the reaction of the world around them is (and I can picture the dead girl fandom clear as day). It's a story that sticks with me, and I keep coming back to it, so I'm offering it for other people to try. — Susan

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin — I have not yet met an N.K. Jemisin novel I didn't love. The Fifth Season is no different. Although I have complicated thoughts about parts of the novel, the core of the story is one I loved. The parts about power, agency, and motherhood were rock-solid throughout the whole book, as she built them up and critiqued them and exploited them to move her characters through this world. Jemisin's world building and character construction are, as usual, top-notch and at times debilitating. This is a powerful book, no matter what way you turn it, and I can't wait for the sequel. — Renay

Hannibal (TV) — This past summer was my summer of Hannibal, a show I had been meaning to watch ever since it started airing. As much as I enjoy drawing out watching television (I’m a year into watching Sailor Moon and we’re only on the fourth season), I couldn’t stop watching Hannibal. I can’t count the number of times the end credits came up and I just screamed. (Sorry, nice producer man, you did great work. This is why I scream at you.) It begins as a pointedly empathetic response to the traditional procedural and expands into a dark, Romantic universe of shifting morality. It’s gorgeous and engaging and wonderfully disturbing, where even the gentlest touch can be its own kind of horror. With the conclusion of the third season (and the series itself, apparently, for some time), it’s easier to see the arc of transformation and corruption that runs through the entire show. It’s so good. — Clare

Hecuba by Euripides (produced by Marina Carr) — Hecuba was easily one of the most affecting plays I've ever seen. It hit me right in the gut and dragged me around by my emotions for its entire duration. If I could, I would force all the political leaders of the world to sit through this play several times because if anything is going to teach you that there are no true winners in a war for conquest it's this play.

Euripides's tragedy has an easy time stirring the feels—all the characters are treated so brutally that it's impossible not to feel something for them. However, I think the immense impact this particular version had on me was largely due to the creative team's distinctive (and difficult to pull off) decision to have the characters switch between using direct speech and reported speech. It took me a bit of time to get used to this technique, but once I got the hang of it I found myself hooked. The play provides an effective reminder that productions don't always need special effects and battle scenes - words and slight gestures can conjure up entire scenes in the audience's minds eye.. — Jodie

Library Wars: Love & War Volume 14 by Kiiro Yumi — I'm not going to lie to you: I started reading this on the tram home, and started crying half-way through. This volume had everything I wanted: Kasahara finally having an opportunity to stand on her own and prove that she can do her job, desperate chase scenes, intense feelings... And it actually takes the time to go "No, other people are invested in the outcome of this. People on the street care about their favourite authors and freedom of speech! And they are willing to help, even if they're not combatants!" ... Yes, that was when I started crying. I'm still a little irked that the series can't have Kasahara be competent for long without also having something happen to undercut it, and the reveal of yet another leak felt quite rushed, but the emotional core of the story is still strong enough that I can't care for long. —Susan

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson — Memory will be glad to know that I finally read Nimona and I really enjoyed it. A+ to Noelle Stevenson for creating a story which positions villainy as a social justice move because villains challenge established systems. Stevenson does an excellent job of setting up this idea largely because she refuses to engage with simplistic narratives about freedom fighting bleeding into terrorism and refuses to ignore fact that busting societal systems apart can lead to violence and death. Her characters actively engage with the problem of violence, and try to take care with the ordinary people who make up the background of their story. I particularly liked the way Nimona's lust for destruction bashed up against Ballister's responsible approach to destabilizing the Institute, although I might have preferred a more complex ending to their relationship. Despite that one quibble Nimona makes me want to see what else Stevenson's work has to offer - next stop, Lumberjanes. — Jodie

Orange Is The New Black (TV) — My partner and I spent the month mainlining OITNB and I'm still not over how nice it was to see so many women on my TV screen. Women of all shapes and sizes and races and sexualities and ages! Including a trans woman played by an actual trans woman. It's just so refreshing. The show varies in how much it condemns the US carceral system (though it's a pretty dim view of the system overall), but it has a lot of really powerfully touching moments, as well as a surprising number of funny ones. I like how the show gives space to each of the inmates and explores their stories. Some of the stories are iffier than others, but it all adds up to a show I enjoyed a lot more than I expected to. — Ira

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson — This was my first Stephenson and I was surprised by how much I like it. I have a real soft spot for near-future hard scifi, and this really hit the spot, with plenty of ladies and even a Neil deGrasse Tyson expy. For me, this was what The Martian should have been, because I loved the science in that book but hated the writing and was bored by the cis white dude protagonist. Seveneves had some flaws, among them a cis focus and lackluster climax, but the book kept me interested for the full thousand pages, which is no mean feat. I'm usually wary of big new releases by famed cis white male authors, but this one really paid off for me. — Ira

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope — Star Wars is a cultural juggernaut, influencing other media since its release. And I had never seen it, at least not while able to really focus. The first time I had a cold, was high on flu medicine, and barely followed along. I'm still not sure if we made it through all three movies. I watched one of the prequels in a theater, because I was all "SPACE MOVIE!" without realizing I was missing some serious context. You'd think I would have loved Spaceballs a little less as a kid, given how many jokes in that movie became SO clear to me after watching this. So I rectified my incomplete Star Wars knowledge by starting with the beginning, and surprisingly, came away super charmed by the characters and the robots. Less charmed with the robot violence, though (DON'T SHOOT THE ROBOTS). Step #1 in my Star Wars pop culture entertainment quest is complete! — Renay

What did you love in September? :D

Date: 2015-10-10 12:38 am (UTC)
spindizzy: Goku from Saiyuki hugging Jeep. (I'll never eat you!)
From: [personal profile] spindizzy
I didn't see the banner before you posted this - that is REALLY COOL!

Date: 2015-10-11 11:43 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Agree :D

Date: 2015-10-11 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingtheend.pip.verisignlabs.com
Awww, Renay, you saw your first ever Star Wars! And you liked it! That's so great! Please be sure to update your readers in this space with further information about your forays into the Star Wars movies universe. (Empire Strikes Back is my favorite one.)

Date: 2015-11-16 05:23 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
WEEKS LATER: I have now finished the whole trilogy and Return of the Jedi is my overall favorite, but A New Hope would come second for sure. SORRY EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, you didn't have enough Ewoks.


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Ira is an illustrator and gamer who decided that disagreeing with everyone would be a good way to spend their time on the internet. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon AO3 icon

By day Jodie is currently living the dream as a bookseller for a major British chain of book shops. She has no desire to go back to working in the real world. more? » tumblr icon last.fm icon

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Susan is a library assistant who uses her insider access to keep her shelves and to-read list permanently over-flowing. more? » twitter icon pinboard icon AO3 icon


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