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The Black Tapes Podcast — I am way into fictionalized podcasts that tell a cool story these days, and The Black Tapes is great. It's a mixture of docu-drama, paranormal, painfully good UST, and over the top voice acting which are all in my wheelhouse. The story follows Alex Reagan as she investigates Dr. Richard Strand, a noted skeptic, and his Strand Institute and Black Tapes, which are unsolved paranormal cases. I gobbled most of the first season down, waited on tenterhooks for the last episode of season one, and then suffered until season two started. We're four episodes in and it's awesome and creepy in all the best ways. The fourth episode launched this into "favorite paranormal series I have ever heard/read" territory. Also I'm shipping Alex and Richard hella hard now and am in constant agony over them, like, "JUST MAKE OUT ALREADY" but convinced we'll never get confirmation one way or another because the podcast won't go there. I need so much fanfic for this podcast. So much.Renay

Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind by Erica L. Satifka — The structure of this story is the most interesting thing I've seen in quite a while! It's told through a bucket list, and the choices of what's been struck off as completed and what has been left undone is a little heartbreaking and very well chosen, and the unspoken emotions are great. Plus, the way the worldbuilding and drama is woven in isn't necessarily subtle, but it's believable as something someone would write. — Susan

Card Captor Sakura Omnibus Volume 1 by CLAMP — This is one of the cornerstones of my childhood in delicious manga form, and I adored it. The were some aspects that I'm not keen on (I am not here for the teacher/student relationships, CLAMP, can we not), but for the most part it's an adorable and well-drawn series with a focus on magic, friendship, teamwork and how important Sakura's family is to her, and that is exactly what I wanted. — Susan

Deadpool — I was saying "I don't believe they've made a Deadpool movie" for years, and even though I've seen it, I'm still not sure I believe it?! It's pretty much entirely what I wanted and expected; it's funny and violent, it has Gina Carano beating people senseless, it has Negasonic Teenage Warhead (who is the coolest), and it felt completely recognisable to fan-of-the-comics me? Some of the jokes didn't work for me, but for the most part I really enjoyed it. — Susan

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers — I've already made my case for Chambers' first novel over in the latest installment of The Little Rocket That Could so I'll direct you there for more detail. Lovely, lovely space road trip perfect for anyone who enjoyed Firefly. The sequel, A Closed And Common Orbit will be out in October so there isn't even that long to wait before you get more space adventures with this charming crew. — Jodie

Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall — Part space adventure and part first contact story, Mars Evacuees is an adorable book about friendship, adaptability, and teamwork. There's a lot to love in this book, from the friendship between Alice and Josephine to Goldfish the Teacher Robot and his Intense Love for teaching and learning new things. If you need a dose of space adventure joy wrapped up in a cute bow with lots of drama, humor, and clever workarounds to huge problems discovered by extremely clever kids, this is your stop. :D — Renay

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona — Ms. Marvel is the best and I really hope you're reading these comics. If you are a fan of the new Supergirl show then I think Ms. Marvel could be the Marvel comic for you (I do not understand the point of Marvel vs. DC wars and will never stop trying to recruit crossover fans). Even though Kara and Kamala are at different stages in their lives they are both the same kind of goodhearted, family orientated superheroes who are just starting to understand what they can do with their powers. Please come join me in going 'aww' at both their faces, especially Kamala's when it's drawn by Adrian Alphona in this volume. So many hearts in my eyes for Adrian's work. — Jodie

My Real Children by Jo Walton — I picked this book up because I'd never read anything by Walton, who is a Guest of Honor at a con I'll be attending next week, and it won a Tiptree award. Excellent choice. Walton tells the story of one woman living two parallel lives through two different versions of our history, with wonderful characterization and world-building. I'll be thinking about the ending for a long time. — KJ

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman Malik — Nebula-nominated novella has an excellent mix of fairy tale, family history, and personal discovery. Near the top of my Hugo shortlist. — KJ

Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith — I read this because it promised awesome lady friendships, and it definitely delivered on that score because I ended up enamored of Xhea and Shai's friendship. The premise of the story — that Shai is a ghost, a job, another source of income for Xhea — falls away as they begin to trust each other, save each other, and put everything on the line to stay together against tough odds. Once Shai has tangled her life with Xhea, there's no going back to the way things were before. Also, zombies, so, you know, I was here for it. — Renay

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Jurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, and Rat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic — I consumed The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth the day after finishing Sass and Sorcery. Me - the notorious procrastinator of sequels! Rat Queens is full of brash, aggressive SFF fun centred around the friendship, and working relationship, between four outrageous ladies. I loved it.

Time for some specifics! I loved all four Queens, although Hannah is predictably my favourite because she has so much trouble with emotions. I loved that the women all have such different looks, backgrounds, personalities, and approaches to sex. One of my favourite thing about these comics is that they casually fill their world with characters other comics might treat as out of the ordinary. Rat Queens introduces women who love sex, chromatic people (some in positions of authority), and lesbians. And all of these groups of people are shown to be regular, accepted parts of Rat Queen's fantasy world. SFF work that openly comments on society's various prejudices is greatly necessary but fiction that acknowledges it is normal for a world to contain a variety of people is just as important. Great job, Rat Queens!

I do have concerns about some of the artwork. I'm not a fan of some of the pin-up posters which open Volume. 1 (Violet's pin-up in particular is really not to my taste). And sometimes an element of exploitative male gaze creeps into the otherwise gloriously visceral celebration of confident female physicality. There are some crotch shots and boob shots I felt were tasteless and purely aimed at titillating straight male readers. Generally though, the four main female characters openly sexual nature is drawn as a kind of slovenly swagger that doesn't align with a traditional concept of 'sexy' (which generally includes a lot of policing behaviour around questions of appropriateness). I felt very comfortable looking at a lot of the art because I didn't feel like the women were sexualised and posed. Instead, it felt like I was seeing women, comfortable with openly displaying their sexuality, who were claiming a physical space and making use of their bodies in a variety of ways.

Saying that, I do think it's important to remember that Rat Queens is produced by a predominantly male creative team. And I'd like to talk to more people about how they view the art. I kind of want to write a longer post exploring the art of Rat Queens and the physicality of the comics. Maybe later? — Jodie

Rock She Wrote edited by Evelyn McDonnell and Ann Powers — I love reading anthologies of women’s work, and this is no different. Covering women in music criticism from the 1960s to the 1990s, Rock She Wrote gives both a good overview of those decades and the different perspectives and attitudes women can bring to criticism. — Clare

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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

KJ KJ is an underemployed librarian, lifelong reader, and more recently an avid gamer. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon AO3 icon

Renay writes for Lady Business and co-hosts Fangirl Happy Hour, a pop culture media show that includes a lot yelling about the love lives of fictional characters. Enjoys puns. more? » twitter icon pinboard icon tumblr icon

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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