Each month, we look back over the media we loved in the previous month, from books to film to video games and more. There's still lots of art out there to love. ♥
Kitchen Nightmares — I have had absolutely no stomach for anything but very formulaic reality television since the election, so old episodes of Kitchen Nightmares is my favorite media of the last few months by default. There’s precious little to say about it, besides the that I love the way Gordon Ramsay calls waitresses “darling” in a way that indicates solidarity rather than condescension.
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers — The follow-up to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is even better, with a delightful and sometimes harrowing tale about discovering identity and finding the family that matters to you.
Moana — I expected to enjoy this movie, and I was not disappointed. Beautiful animation, I loved how the ocean was incorporated as a character, and Dwayne Johnson was a treat as Maui. Great music, too.
Musketeer Space by Tansy Raynor Roberts — Delightful mostly-genderbent retelling of The Three Musketeers, set in a far-future colonized universe. Although I'm not terribly familiar with the original story (I've only seen the 1990s movie with Kiefer Sutherland, which I gather takes many liberties with the source), I had a great deal of fun with this one. Roberts' sense of humor, and the clear joy she takes in writing in swashbuckling adventures, hit the mark for me. While this book does have its tragic moments, overall I found it to be exactly the escape I needed this month. This is the third story by Roberts that I read and loved in the last year; clearly, I just need to read everything that she's ever written.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Series 3 & 4) — Rosa, Terry, Amy, Captain Holt, Geena, Jake - wow, did I ever miss this team! I continue to love all the characters, and their relationships with each other. I ship Rosa/Adrian to the exclusion of all else (though Jake/Amy is nice too). And I laughed my ass off following them around through their capers and cases (although, warning the show's writers still think jokes about weight are funny). This is a very adorable comedy with a diverse cast, and I wish there were more shows like it.
Black-ish (Series 2) — The second series of ABC's family comedy Black-ish is even stronger than the first. It's funnier, has more varied storylines, and is more confident about including political commentary. The guest star lineup is off the charts. Tyra Banks as Dre's best friend was my personal favourite but I also loved seeing Raven Symone turn up as Dre's sister Rhonda who is about to get married to her girlfriend. I'm super excited for the third series, and the rumoured spin-off where Zoey is the breakout character.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II — This is Vol. 6 of Ms. Marvel. There are now six collected trade volumes starring Kamala Khan; written by G. Willow Wilson. You can hold them in your hands. You can buy them with your money. You can borrow them from the library. There are six whole volumes about this young, Muslim super-woman; defender of Jersey City. And they’re all written by the same female creator. Truly, this is a wonder.
In Civil War II Wilson expands on a theme she has been developing for a while – the ethics of super-powered justice and the difficulty of working out what the right thing to do is. Who does a developing super-hero trust and how does she make amends when she makes the wrong choices? Ms. Marvel continues to be my favourite comic and I hope Wilson plans to write many more volumes about Kamala.
Moana — I thought this film was charming and clever. I enjoyed the subtle tweaks Moana makes to the Disney heroine template. And I've been singing Where You Are for absolutely ages.
Murder on the Last Frontier by Cathy Pagau — I had a marvellous time reading (and livetweeting) Cathy Pegau's Murder On The Last Frontier, about a suffragette journalist investigating a murder in turn of the century Alaska. It's a crime story where the gap between me figuring something out and the protagonist figuring something out is only a few pages! The inevitable romance is slow-building and respectful! There is historical attitudes about sex work, women, alcohol... And our heroine shuts that shit down wherever she encounters it, which is what I want from a suffragette. There are some odd parts (Charlotte makes an equivalency between her actions and her brother's that strikes me as really fucking weird, but I assume that this is due to the time it's set.), and a relationship jumps from "suspicion" to "friendship" without much of a pause for breath, but I had a lot of fun reading it, and being able to guess who the murderer correctly pleased me!
(Disclaimer: I won this and the sequel in a competition!)
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones — I forgot how much I absolutely adored Howl's Moving Castle! I remembered the major differences between it and the film (and they are very different, but they're both good in different ways), but I'd forgotten how... Delightful it was! Sophie and Howl are both very determined not to be protagonists for different reasons, and neither of them want to talk about their feelings, and they have very relatable flaws that delight me. Sophie doesn’t think before she acts! Howl is Vain! Together they were my OTP before I even knew what that meant (... Although it clearly made an impression, because "characters who are endlessly grouchy about each other, don't like talking about their feelings, and ABSOLUTELY ADORE EACH OTHER" is pretty much the description of 90% of my pairings.). The worldbuilding is so great, Howl's Totally Mysterious Origins makes me giggle, and I love how the story sets things up and shakes them out in different ways. ... I miss Diana Wynne Jones so much, guys. I miss her books.