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2014 Media in Review


Obligatory statement about how mind-boggling it is that 2014 is over goes here. I know! I blame Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I lost so many (highly enjoyable) months to that fandom. This might suggest I'm done with it, but alas for everyone else who wants me to go back to having things to say besides gross sobbing over Bucky Barnes: I will probably be in this mess….forever...as I have just remembered Marvel released all our future dates as well as announced our wedding for five years down the road. I'm so sorry.

Favorite Films & Television

My film viewing this year was sporadic, because I didn't use Netflix as much as I did the year before. I'm a dinosaur that continues to use Netflix's mailing service to receive films that aren't available for streaming, but this year my usage went down.

For the first time, I saw more films via the theater than I did via disc/streaming. I also harassed several people about how to become better at "reading" films and have a project next year dedicated to reading books and articles on film. I'm creating a syllabus for it and everything, which means my disc usage will definitely go back up in 2015. I am a nerd.

My favorite films this year feel mostly predictable, but some surprised me when I looked back and considered which films I thought about the most.

Renay's Favorite Media of 2014 cover collage.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier: I don't know why anyone would be surprised by this, but in case it was unclear, this is 150,000% my favorite film of the year.

The Lego Movie: Unfortunately, I caved to the pressure and saw this and then aggravatingly liked it a lot because it was delightful. What is basically a giant toy commercial becomes a long critique of hero narratives, the impact of nostalgia, and generational connections. The only issue I had with the story is that the film didn't nail the landing on the gender intersection of the story's hero narrative, but everything else was so enjoyable and cute that it was irresistible.

Under the Skin: Visceral and stark, Under the Skin stayed with me for weeks after I watched it. I expected to be surprised by this film, but even then the sheer weirdness of the story kept coming back to gnaw on me, and I suspect this was because I was learning but unable to articulate exactly what was becoming clear to me even though I understood what I took away from the film. The two most intense pieces of this film for me were the most obvious social commentary. The first was the long scenes of assessment, as the alien looks for pliable and likely victims. The camera lingers on the men she stalks, and I'm used to it when the camera does that with women, but to see it happen to men is jarring. The second is the end of the film, which upon reflection is a commentary on how after we are brutalized and beaten, we often become something terrifying to the people who made us that way. Then, inevitably, we're made complicit in our own abuse because they're forced to face reality, and we must be silenced at any cost so men — and the wider culture of male entitlement — doesn't have to see the horror they've unleashed.

Veronica Mars: I took part in the Kickstarter for this film and was so happy when it was funded, and the final product was perfect. It was everything I loved about the show with a little bit of added fatigue and quieter angst, as befits the rapid rise to adulthood and adult responsibilities. Adulthood is hard and knowing what you want to do with your life and who you want to do it with can be even harder. I never watched the whole of season three (I've been told I'm not missing much), but my experiences with the first two seasons of this show were eye-opening and so narratively satisfying that even if the film had been disappointing, it would have been fine just to see everyone again. But I'm so glad that didn't happen, and everything I loved about the show was wrapped up and presented to me like the greatest fannish gift in the world.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Friends, I did not expect to love a talking tree and raccoon this much. I'm ready for Guardians of the Galaxy II: Gamora & Nebula Take on the Galaxy.

Renay's Favorite Media of 2014 cover collage.


The Fault in Our Stars: As book adaptations go, this was excellent. There were so many thoughtful touches for the community around this book, for nerdfighters, and really great integrations of technology. Surprising to me is that in the book, I felt a lot of empathy for Hazel's parents, but the focus was still on Hazel and Gus. But in the film, their presence and support is everywhere, which I'm chalking up to actors taking good material and making it shine. The most emotional scenes for me were the sections with her parents. Barring the funeral scene, because, obviously.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: The difference between Mockingjay and The Hunger Games/Catching Fire was that the first two could be dressed up in regular, action movie clothes and delivered to the primed masses who love action, and the third entry in the series breaks this mold. Mockingjay isn't an action movie about a war, but a long thesis on post traumatic stress, the machine of war which is fueled by propaganda, and how to cope with losing battles that form the wider context of the war being fought. That's surprising to see in a huge blockbuster franchise like this: quiet moments, reflective moments, space given to provide a wider scope to what all the explosion and terror means. The screenwriters did the best they could, and they were inevitably helped by their talent, but I'm still fascinated by the tone switch.

How to Train Your Dragon 2: My favorite detail about this film is a massive spoiler, but blew my mind so much in the theater that I had to stuff my fist in my mouth to keep from screeching about it. I enjoyed the first film but this follow up improved on its foundations in leaps and bounds, with wildly different types of characters, especially women and girls, complicated relationships, and dragon feels, which obviously are the most important part.

Blackfish: This documentary is horrific, and that's not hyperbole at all. It is a horror show and watching it is like feeling the inevitable creep up, unable to stop it from happening. They really effectively build their narrative, maybe a little too well, because I started to feel led around a bit toward the end. My feeling coming away from this film was less about the morals around keep animals in captivity (stealing healthy animals from the wild in order to later turn a profit for them is a huge "how about no" from me in general), and more about corporate standards for training the humans who do this work and accountability when the training isn't robust enough. The drive for increased profit often reduces the complexity of everyone, human and animal both.

Snowpiercer: This was the most oddball film. Unfortunately, I do think that it means more if you understand and are aware of the robust critiques of capitalism because then the allegory becomes clearer immediately. Trying to take this film literally in any way in a story sense is comparable to snorting some hallucinogenic drugs and then expecting to write a critical essay on economic theory while high. Chris Evans did an amazing job in this, and now wonder how much of his casting was 100% excellent trolling given his past roles, and I would recommend the film for Tilda Swinton and Octavia Spencer's performances alone.

Television


I didn't watch enough television to have a list of favorites, unfortunately. I still haven't finished Orphan Black Season 2, I'm only halfway through Season 1 of Agents of SHIELD (I know), and Sleepy Hollow has disappointed me enough to cause [personal profile] chaosraven and I to take a break until future spoilers fix things enough that we can go back.

Grimm continues to be excellent, though! Grimm never lets me down and is an entertaining, supernatural romp with a superb, diverse cast. Dear [personal profile] nymeth and [personal profile] bookgazing, if you're looking for a new show with excellent, complicated ladies, strong friendships, adorable romance, and fun world building (well, post S1 is when the show really hits its stride on that score) may I suggest Grimm? >.> I'll trade you for Legend of Korra. <.<

Fanfiction


I tried to track the fanfic I read this year, but once I reached around three million words, I knew this was a doomed project that just kept me from reading more and dropped it. At least now when my yearly reading breakdown contains very few books, I'll know: it's not because I'm not reading, it's because I'm reading fanfic. :) This is the first year I'll be including fanfic as part of my favorites, and spoiler: it was hard to choose. Ugh, fandom. I LOVE YOU A LOT, you are so creative and wonderful and entertaining and I love so many things about you.

I spent most of my time in the MCU this year. No one is surprised. In no particular order, here are my favorite stories this year, agonized over from a long list of about 30 because I love torturing myself:

Out of the Dead Land (62,707 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] emilyenrose: Someone is building machines that look and act like people. Meanwhile, the Winter Soldier tries to be Bucky Barnes.

I loved this story so much when it was in progress, then when it finished, and months later, too. Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers, protective of each other until the bitter end. Also: robots.

That Kind Of Day (5,438 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] Neery: Carolyn Brown's having one of those days. Her truck's been stolen, she's about to lose her job, and now a crazy Hydra assassin has broken into her apartment to ambush Captain America.

I love really well done outside perspective stories and this is so excellent. Great tension, awesome timing, and a delightfully funny original character. :D

On The Other Side of a Downward Spiral (31,811 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] torakowalski: Bucky Barnes is barely functioning, let alone living, but when the Avengers find an abandoned baby girl, Bucky has to learn to look after himself, and keep the baby out of Hydra's hands. All while trying to work out exactly what kind of relationship he and Steve want from each other.

BUCKY BARNES WITH A BABY. I have read this 116 times.

Slow Work (81,114 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] lorata: It's 2011, men are allowed to marry, and Bucky is dead.

The future isn't all that's strange. Together in peacetime for the first time since before Steve took the serum, Steve and Bucky struggle to find their place — and each other — in the middle of a new millennium, new bodies, and new dynamics.

Or, just because you wake up in a century where everything you've repressed is magically okay, that doesn't make it easy.


I swallowed this story whole in three days and then immediately re-read it. It's not compliant with CA:TWS canon, but it's still wonderfully entertaining. Despite the warnings about how long it takes to get anywhere, it still felt like the blink of an eye. It's a marvelous, introspective look at the way our pasts define us and how we slowly learn to build foundations for the future. Wonderful.

escape from new york (12,092 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] beardsley: On Monday morning Thor parades bare-ass naked around the Tower; it all goes downhill from there. Or, the one where New York gets infected with alien sex pollen, Steve appears to be the only sane man, and the things that ensue include hilarity, fake zombies, pining and surprise makeouts. And a bear trap.

I have a weakness for comedy in sex pollen pieces, and when I found this I was immediately charmed by everything: Steve's response to the outbreak, Bucky's response to Steve, Jane being the rockstar who solves everything and saves the city. I'm a big softie for surprise makeouts, too.

Love among the Hydrothermal Vents (26,816 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] DevilDoll: In which Namor has a thing for Steve, an octopus has a thing for Tony, and Steve and Tony eventually have a thing for each other.

FAKE BOYFRIENDS and that really should be the entirety of my recommendation here, but because it's DevilDoll and I find everything she writes to be so hilarious and charming that I spend most of story hiding my face in my hands while laughing and/or flushing with pleasure, I can't stop there. Namor is such a hilarious asshole, Tony is addicted to romance novels, and the analysis of romantic/sexual consent makes this sparkle.

But we can try (10,567 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] hetrez: Bucky said, "These are love letters, Rogers. You've been drawing me love letters."

I find stories where Steve's having trouble adjusting or struggling to be happy bittersweet and and thoughtful, because this is the Steve I see coming back from the revelation of Bucky Barnes: a little confused, wistful, but also hopeful in the resolution when he finally finds a way to talk about what he needs and wants, too. Stories where art is still an important aspect of Steve's life are so lovely.

falling for you (5,329 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] ohmyloki: He’s falling. He’s falling and his first thought is Tony will catch me before he remembers that Tony’s gone. Tony’s gone and Steve sent Thor away and there’s no way he’ll make it back in time.

Time slows down.

Steve closes his eyes.


This story slides from syrupy sweetness to bone crushing despair and back again so quickly that the contrast is a shock, but the euphoric middle section makes the sadness all worth it. When I recced this recently I said I would never be over these two assholes saving each other, and so far that's held true. This is so nice.

i was found and now i don't roam these streets (15,614 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] hipsterchrist: They’ve decided to start producing Bucky Bears again, now that he’s all shiny and redeemed and fighting for good on this big Avengers misfits team. "He has a little shiny gray arm," Bucky says, wiggling the stuffed arm in question, one of the tweaks made in the new model. It takes Steve a second to realize that Bucky’s got a small smile on his face, actually looks a little bit proud around the eyes.

Or, Bucky relearns himself and how to be on a team, the rest of the Avengers try to get answers, and everyone watches too much Criminal Minds.


This is a tremendous story of healing and trust and features Bucky Barnes in Better Friends Through Creepy Stalking. It has a Bucky who is getting better and revealing himself to be a charming, thoughtful sweetheart with a sarcastic streak, and I would really another 100k words of Bucky and Tony having heart to heart chats over adorable Youtube videos.

My Ghosts are Six Feet Under (3,316 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] what_alchemy: Steve showed up on Becca’s doorstep a month after the invasion in New York, larger than life and trying to hide it.

This is an excellent story and I am totally here for old ladies bossing Steve and Bucky around and them being meek about it. This story had me alternating being honking laughter and blinking away tears, and it was a joy to read.

speaking sound (8,424 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] partingxshot: She doesn’t condescend to him by explaining what he already understands, instead jumping to the first possible solution. “Do you know how to reactivate your vocal processors?”

He shakes his head, dazed, and feels that he’s failed something.

Gamora’s dress makes shifting sounds as she crosses her arms. Then she earns his pathetic, eternal gratitude by asking, “How long will it take you to learn?”


In my original rec I said, "Especially touching here is Rocket's interactions with Gamora, her steadiness and understanding, and their shared experience where their bodies overlap with technology." and a little distance has really made me appreciate the connection more. I adore stories that show me the evolution of a relationship without it being quite clear that's exactly what's happened until you've already settled into the new reality. Really beautiful story about the strength inherent in learning to lean, about bodily autonomy, and what an impressive feat trust really is.

Let Your Backbone Flip (18,600 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] hansbekhart: He'd been back from Afghanistan about two months when the Battle of New York happened. He had heard about Captain America getting pulled out of the ice a week or so before, of course — it had been all over the internet, in all the papers. Sam hadn't really cared, at the time. Too wrapped up in trying to sleep through the night, surrounded by people who loved him but didn't get it. Those were angry days where every hour was a challenge not to scream at his own family for all their petty, safe, day to day living, and Sam had felt pretty much the same about Captain America's revival as he did hearing about the Chitauri invasion, which was basically that he could give a fuck.

Wonderful story about the heroic, lovable, charismatic Sam Wilson and is a lovely take on Sam and Steve growing closer, Sam's life after Steve Rogers interwoven with pieces of his past, the human problems of his present, and the wild, but suddenly attainable, possibilities for his future. I love stories about Sam and Steve building a friendship, letting their trust of each other grow deeper and more sturdy, and this story delivered a straight shot of happiness directly to my heart. If you, like me, think that Sam Wilson is the down to earth best friend Steve Rogers deserves (and desperately needs), you too may love this story.

Fanart


This is the most unfair category in the world. I can't even believe I'm doing this to myself. But I went back, and I stared at art for a week, and I decided pretty much based on the amount I shoved these pieces in people's faces at the time of discovery. Did I screech about it on Twitter? Did I email someone with caps lock going "LOOK AT THIS IMMEDIATELY?" This is only a small sample of the art I loved this year. All these artists are amazing. I highly recommend checking out all their archives. :D

Natasha Romanoff by [tumblr.com profile] mushroomtale-fanart: Gorgeous color and lifework!

The Avengers play Cards Against Humanity by [tumblr.com profile] voodooling: this is comedy gold.

Fanception by [tumblr.com profile] paln-k: As the artist states in the description this art of Cath from Fangirl writing fanfic, which is perfect: Fanart of a fictional character that is fanfictioning fictional characters, of a fictional book within a fictional novel…" PS I hope everyone is ready for Carry On next year.

Captain America/Lilo & Stitch crossover by [tumblr.com profile] princecanary: this makes me laugh until I cry.

Peggy Carter by [tumblr.com profile] schwarzbrot: The coloring and Peggy's expression here are knockout.

Bucky Barnes by [tumblr.com profile] beefbasket: in the end, I'm powerless in the face of men with guns at sunset and gorgeous colors.

Derek/Stiles by [tumblr.com profile] streamgiraph: predictably, I am never going to be over these two assholes making out in the rain.

Natasha Romanoff by [tumblr.com profile] mirandakat: Natasha, rendered resolute. Gorgeous.

well, I am grout by [tumblr.com profile] wetrilo: Unflinchingly honest, but yet still heartfelt artwork making it super clear where Groot's heart lies.

Bucky Barnes by [tumblr.com profile] mmcoconut: probably my favorite artist discovered this year, I can never get enough about the lines in work by this person, which plunge and ascend and plunge again and bring the subject to life. This art feels fearless.

Goodnight (Steve/Bucky) by [tumblr.com profile] axxxxxi: between the bouts of aching over panels of this piece, it's impossible to get to the middle panel and then the end and not cry through your tears. Priceless.

Gamora by [tumblr.com profile] christytortland: This is super fun and lively, and, and the colors wild, and the sense of movement in the dance makes this piece wonderful.

Make way for the Raven King by [tumblr.com profile] haydenmariecreations: If you haven't seen this art yet and you're in the Raven Cycle fandom, I don't know how you missed my excited screeching so CLICK RIGHT NOW.

Howl and Calcifer by [tumblr.com profile] ofsparrows: This art is so warm and lovely and really invokes sitting toasty by the fire. (We all want our own Calcifer.)

Fanvids


2014 was the year I learned to (sort of) read fanvids on a story level, with the help of excellent folks who recced me great vids and pointed me to places to find more. Thanks to all of you for lending your experience to my fanvid education!

Orange Crush by [personal profile] gwyn: This vid has become more emotional to me over time. When I originally recced it, I was mostly taken with the excellent matching between lyrics and cuts, but watching it multiple times I'm now more caught up in the transformation of Steve and Bucky and their relationship with each other as well as how they relate to the institutions surrounding them.

captain america | crack!vid by [tumblr.com profile] femlourry: The greatest and most accurate Captain America vid of 2014. I cried in laughter the first time I watched this vid, and every subsequent viewing makes it better than ever. Now I can almost make it through the whole thing, until I get to "The Pit" section and absolutely lose it cracking up.

Gun by [tumblr.com profile] starlightandstatic: Pacific Rim is the fandom that does such fascinating things with color in its vids, and I am really into it. In my original rec, I said, "This is such a beautiful story of Mako’s journey through the film. The bridge here is particularly striking, where the lyrics flip, and for just a quick moment we see Mako’s resolve filtered through Stacker’s perspective. It nicely cuts back to Mako’s perspective with a really excellent line drawn with color, and I must’ve watched this section like six times. Super great!"

In the Bullpen by [personal profile] genusshrike: still a hard truth about this vid for me: "0:25 to 0:30 is my stop, with the sweeping of her hair and the mix of the lyrics. goodbye". Natasha is so many things, all of them complex, and this vid does such a great job of giving us a little insight to Natasha and her place on this team. This has become competence porn for me.

Radioactive in the Dark by Cantrous: "This vid makes me so happy, though, from the beginning's echo of Steve's uncertainty to the end where he decides to BURN EVERYTHING TO GROUND because he's found the right path." My sexuality: Steve Rogers razing corrupt institutions to the ground by blowing shit up.

Everybody Wants To Rule The World by [tumblr.com profile] avengersassembleeh: I can't say it better than I originally did: "Well, gird your loins for pain and suffering. I watched this vid right before I was about to go out the door to the library, was an emotional wreck, and then couldn't choose any books because everything was awful. My advice: put on some headphones, slap this on the highest quality you can, and prepare to have Serious Emotions about everyone. The killer here for me was Natasha, because the vid did such a great job highlighting some of her emotional journey. Also, I love the editing on "nothing ever last forever". Excellent editing and commentary."

Books



Renay's Favorite Media of 2014 cover collage.


The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Tor)
A story of corruption and politics told in a leisurely, roundabout manner that really shouldn't work because even the action in this book is mostly about interpersonal and professional relationships. The Goblin Emperor aims for the perfect 10 and absolutely lands the dismount. Maia is so utterly lovable as someone thrust into greatness that I spent the whole story wanting to wrap him up in a tight, warm hug. Maia won my heart early on and kept it through the whole story, and I desperately wanted him to get his happy ending.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine (Atria)
This is a hard story with its sharp corners wrapped in the softening blur of love and frustration between sisters. Featuring a huge cast of characters with Jo and her closest sisters as the focus, it's a fantastically built piece of historical fiction that manages to invoke a massive sense of wonder and hope. It's easy to see why so many people see this book as blurring genre lines even when there's no magic at all besides the kind the sisters manage to conjure for themselves and their future. Lovely, heartwarming book.

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (Marvel)
Kamala Khan's story is a sparkling delight to read: the art is gorgeous, it's fun, easygoing, and super accessible to people who might not have years and years of experience with comics. The beginning of Kamala's story isn't about how she fits into the wider Marvel universe, but instead about how she does and doesn't fit into her own universe. It's about her friends, her family, her worries about belonging and being caught between cultures, and her struggles to balance being a teenager with becoming, slowly, someone who's a hero. Fast-paced and playful, I loved everything about this first volume of Kamala's story.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
As we approach the end of this series, everything starts to get more and more tense. The frisson between all the characters is palpable, and the stakes have never been higher. My favorite thing about this series is how much the teenagers really remind me of myself at that age, and how utterly lost the adults often are while projecting a thin veneer of competence over their uncertainty. Paired with the gorgeous language that reminds me of dense forests and cool, early misty mornings when things could still be lurking just off to the side in the lingering shadows, it makes this entry into the series the best yet. Beautiful.

Jaran by Kate Elliott (DAW)
While reading this book I flip flopped between grinning wildly, screeching in outrage, and sobbing into my (utterly bemused) cat's fur. I had a lot of complicated emotions about this story, about the gender dynamics, and about Ilya being a complete dick, but oh, do I so love Tess. This book is filled with horses, road trips, complicated sibling relationships, a woman who gets to unapologetically have wild sex with whoever she wants, and is a complete treasure.

Renay's Favorite Media of 2014 cover collage.


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)
Quiet and lovely, this book came out of nowhere and surprised me. I knew [personal profile] nymeth had loved it, but I went in expecting a standard post-apocalypse tale and was presented with much more than that. A thoughtful story about personal connections, the complicated trappings that divide us from one another that have nothing to do with technology, and the power of stories no matter their form, it's wonderfully tender and beautifully told.

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
This book was so painfully good. An island where men marry beautiful, emotionally unavailable women who are wrapped in lies and misdirection and cast aside complicated, complex human women, a pattern plays out over several generations, with the feeling this has all happened before and we haven't yet learned our lesson. Gorgeously told in patented Margo Lanagan language that makes the compliment of calling it "lyrical" seem like a bland understatement, this is both bittersweet cut with just a little hope.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
This is somewhere between a murder mystery and a soap opera featuring antagonized, irascible gods, and the rotten family that controls them. I'm not sure what I expected from this story but I was caught up in Yeine's attempts to find the truth in a place where truth is hard to come by and absolutely no one wants to be straight with her. The truth about our families is never as straightforward and easily judged as we want it to be. This is a hard, unyielding story about jealousy, pettiness, but also about love and the way it can bring us back from the edge, wonderfully told.

The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Oree is probably my favorite protagonist of any book I've read this year. More community-oriented than its predecessor, but no less gutting, Oree can see magic when she can't see anything else and plays around with gods — that only spells trouble. If we just hide the heartbreaking parts of this story, Oree and Shiny's interactions are charming and comical, and although I thought Shiny was a complete jerk, by the end of the story I felt all the compassion for him even as I stewed in my resentment over doing so, which is pretty good work. It says something that I would have read about Oree and Shiny living in a house, running errands, and being domestic for another 3000 words or so.

Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang (self-pub)
This is pure fun, energetic with a sweet center of character connection. Cas's super power is math, and she's able to calculate on the fly and use numbers to get out of tough spots. This reads of a pace of a Hollywood blockbuster action film with tons of explosions, and Cas collects allies as she races to figure out how to take down an evil telepath. Super engrossing and incredibly tense at times as you wonder how Cas is going to use all that math to get herself out of hot water this time, this is also a fantastic story about trust and relying on other people for the things you need and have never had. Excellent.

Renay's Favorite Media of 2014 cover collage.


Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (DAW)
Surprisingly fun even when it's terribly brutal and dark, I loved the beginning of Toby's story and what seems like a strong foundation for future adventures. I loved this, but what I loved most was Toby and Tybalt snarking each other, Toby being a badass in the face of imminent death but never uncaring or cruel to those around her who didn't deserve it, and her desire to live. This is a fantastic book full of subtly handled magic and a great hook for the rest of the series.

A Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claiborne (Big Bang Press)
Oh my god. I read through this in two days while pressing my hands into my cheeks, UTTERLY DELIGHTED over everything this book is. From Ewan's morose existence in a world that buoyed him up but let him down when he was no longer relevant to them, to his bitterness over his lost friendship with Oliver, to his burgeoning attraction to potentially-evil Archie, this was so enchanting and so much fun to read. When I got to the end with its hilarious MacGuffin I completely lost it and laughed until I cried, which I had avoided up to that point by sheer force of ramming my fist into my mouth. So great and funny and highly recommended.

Lock In by John Scalzi (Tor)
This book surprised me by being several kinds of social commentary all wrapped into one pretty smart package, although as usual my feeling is that Scalzi's books are slowly morphing into screenplays. Dear Hollywood, someone please hire him because hell yes I would watch a film he wrote. That's not a detriment here: the light worldbuilding and the fast pace keeps the book moving along at the perfect clip, and give more space to the commentary on living in the world without a human body we all take for granted. I loved Chris and his eventual relationship with his partner. I didn't notice the little conceit that Scalzi uses until [personal profile] owlmoose pointed it out to me (she wrote about it here; spoilers), but what a fascinating experiment that adds another layer to the narrative. Super reliable fun with thinky potential, which I've come to trust Scalzi to deliver. :D

Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
This is so weird, and I haven't really figured out to talk about it yet, but it was interesting and thoughtful and surprisingly sweet. Although the premise can overshadow things, it's most importantly about two lonely people meeting and finding in each other something they've been missing, learning to cope with each other's issues, and falling in love. I didn't expect to end up such a soft touch over a comic featuring a glowing penis, but what can you do? It's like Matt Fraction found my weakness for adventure/romance and applied the perfect amount of pressure until I melted into a puddle. Sensual, hilarious, romantic, and irreverent.

Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey (Orbit)
Cibola Burn was the latest in this series to come out, but 2014 was the year I discovered the series so I'm still reeling from the absolute perfection of the second entry. Caliban's War comes after Leviathan Wakes, the first book, but honestly I would rec this as the first book and the first book as a prequel to those not inclined to the realities of noir tropes, i.e. dead ladies as motivating factors. Caliban's War is the antithesis of this, and is built gorgeously, featuring two excellent, competent women at the center of the action, and I am still not over how much I love them. All the characters, both POV and otherwise, shine here, and the worldbuilding is like indulging in an entire package of your favorite candy, pleasure over each unwrapped piece until you're miserable over how great everything is and shaky from the rush. Absolutely thrilling fun from beginning to end.

Book Stats



Once again I shamelessly stole [personal profile] nymeth's survey for my own ends. >D Percentages will not add up perfectly due to category overlap.

Total items read: 64 (16% down from last year, but I also read about 10 million words of fanfic this year)
Novels: 32 (50%)
Short Story Collections and Anthologies: 1 (.06%)
Individual Short Fiction: 11 (17%)
Comics/Graphic Novels: 16 (25%)
Non-Fiction: 6 (.09%)
By Women: 53 (83%) — I continue to be stoked that this stat is so high, given the current realities about reading and review coverage of women in both mainstream and genre spaces.
By Men: 32 (50%)
By Men and Women: 4 (.06%)
By Non-Binary Individuals: 1 (.06%)
By People of Color: 14 (22%)
By new to me authors: 45 (70%) — the short fiction and anthology I read helped here a lot!
Favorite authors discovered this year: Katherine Addison, S.L. Huang, Genevieve Valentine
Longest book I read: Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
High book month: September — 11 books, which contained three of my favorite books of the year, leading me to believe that reading books I love gives me reading mojo which I can use to read more books.
Low book month: July — one book, Artemis Awakening, after which I immediately spent the rest of the month reading fanfic that didn't make me unhappy.

Supplemental Materials
You want to see what some other people loved and add more stuff to your lists, right? Of course you do.

2014 in Review: My Year in TV
2014 in Review: Best Books I Didn’t Blog About
2014: The Year in Review
Smugglivus Presents: Ana & Thea’s Most Excellent Books of 2014
The Year in Review: My Favorite Films of 2014
The Year in Review: My Favorite Books of 2014

Date: 2015-01-01 02:08 am (UTC)
zachariah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zachariah
Yeah, Sex Criminals definitely had enough weirdness to stand out from everything else I read this year.

Date: 2015-01-01 04:24 am (UTC)
zachariah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zachariah
Definitely, a $50 - $100 per month max, for sure. Plus emergency comic funds, obvs.
Edited Date: 2015-01-01 04:25 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-01-01 03:30 am (UTC)
thebaconfat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thebaconfat
Hahaha, I just finished Leviathan Wakes, and enjoyed it but ehhhh, so I was about to go digging through ladybusiness for your thoughts on the sequel, and here they are! Dangit, guess I'll have to check out Caliban's War.

I really didn't get into the first book of The Hunger Games, but your commentary on Mockingjay being complex and thoughtful makes me wonder if I should check out the other books. Any thoughts?

Date: 2015-01-01 02:16 pm (UTC)
thebaconfat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thebaconfat
Awesome, I will check them out!

Ahh, that makes a lot of sense about the first person POV. I'll probably stay away from the books, but might check out the movies and then reconsider. Thank you so much for the discussion!

Date: 2015-01-01 10:39 am (UTC)
goodbyebird: Cap2: Close-crop of Sam, in and out of uniform. (Avengers I never said pilot)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird
Whaaaat, I missed an 18k Sam POV story?? *hurls self towards it*

So many books here I want to check out I read so slowly sob sob D:

And I think we have a lot of company in the Staying Away From Sleepy Hollow Until The Spoilers Tell Us It's Safe To Come Out club. Real pity, with the first season being such a charmer.

Date: 2015-01-01 02:47 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I'm still sad that I haven't made it to Mockingjay Part 1 in the cinema (trying to go with friends at the end of the year & we all got too caught up to make the plans work) but I can see it on DVD & then go to the 'see all the parts together' special cinema evening when Part 2 comes out maybe.

Also - super excited that you listed the first two Inheritance trilogy books among your favs. Have you read the third one?

In the Bullpen is such a great vid and would have made my favourite fanvids list if I hadn't been keeping it to 2014 works. And I really like Gun too. Thanks for introducing me to them this year :D Also, at the NY party I went to last night Level Up came on and I was like 'Pacific Rim - my heart'!

Date: 2015-01-04 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.com
Yay! More things to put on my lists.

Under the Skin was one of my favorite surprises of last year; it's such a stark, thoughtful film.

Date: 2015-01-06 04:22 pm (UTC)
antiloquax: battle of the planets (Default)
From: [personal profile] antiloquax
Interesting to read your thoughts on "Under the Skin". I loved the use of unscripted exchanges. And there was something chilling about how vulnerable the men are to Scarlett Johansson's alien.

For me, a stand-out moment was the scene on the beach. I think I preferred the book ...

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