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Each month, we look back over the media we loved in the previous month, from books to film to video games and more.


KJ


Cover of Heroine's Journey Cover of The Descent of MonstersCover of Spinning Silver


Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn — In the third book of the series that started with Heronie Complex, Evie Tanaka's younger sister Bea finally gets her chance to shine. Bea is a delight (although as an older sister myself, I can 100% understand why Evie gets frustrated with her at times), and it was great fun to get a story from her point of view, even as it takes on the serious subject of the Tanaka's grief for their mother, who they lost several years prior. As in the other books, the heart of the book is the relationship between the sisters, along with a friends-to-lovers romance that I enjoyed greatly. Add an intensely emotional magical mystery, and I was hooked. This is one of my favorite series going right now, and I hope we see more.

The Descent of Monsters by J.Y. Yang — The third novella in the Tensorate series takes on a new direction, as we learn the truth about a horrible accident (if it was really an accident) in a secret research laboratory. My favorite thing about this series is the worldbuilding, and this story brings out whole new facets of this society: the research lab, the government, all sorts of political machinations, more details about what I hope is the coming revolution. With a novel coming early next year, I feel like Yang is putting all the puzzles pieces into place, and I can't wait to see the whole picture together.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik — This novel is an expansion of Novik's short story by the same title in The Starlit Wood, which is a loose retelling of Rumplestiltskin with a Russian Jewish protagonist. I adored that story, as well as Novik's previous Eastern European fairy-tale-inspired novel Uprooted, so this was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I am pleased to say that I loved it just as much as both its predecessors. I enjoyed the medieval Russian setting and the influence of Russian folklore, but the key for me was the characters: a variety of voices, most of them women, all with their own unique motivations. By the end of the book, they've formed a community, a sort of found family, which I will always appreciate. If you liked Uprooted at all, I highly recommend this.

Susan


Poster for The Meg


The Meg — My expectations of this were so low. I was expecting Sharktopus-style nonsense with Jason Statham, where the entire cast is picked off by a giant shark while Jason Statham is a maverick who rebels against the team and punches sharks. That... Isn't exactly what I got! The way I summarised it in my reaction post was "It's 'Jason Statham is a sweet guy with issues, who joins a team of also sweet people with issues, and at least the first half of the movie is just nice people trying to work together despite having the worst day." I still stand by that! It was as sweet as a movie about a colossal murder shark can be, it was refreshing, it was funny, it had people reacting to things like actual people and dealing with their problems by talking about them. And I thought the romance was really well done, which is a big deal because, as mentioned before, I am absolutely the kid in The Princess Bride going "Do we have to have the kissing parts?" It was great, I'm looking forward to going to see it again.
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