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Monthly Wrap-Up: November 2021

  • The Visitant by Megan Chance (★★★★☆)
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (★★★☆☆)
  • Girl Serpent Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (★★★☆☆)
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones (★★☆☆☆)
  • Queer Theory Gender Theory by Riki Wilchins (★★★☆☆)
  • The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (★★★★★)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 6
YEARLY SO FAR: 88

Not bad this month, not bad at all! I read what will ultimately be one of my favorite books of the year, THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS. Man, let me tell you, I’m very picky about my romance, but when it hits, it hits. This was just…pure serotonin. I read the whole thing in pretty much one sitting and actually lost track of time; I cannot even remember the last time that happened. Actually, I don’t think it’s happened all year. It’s such a funny, charming book with so many tropes I enjoy, and it was just…such a genuinely good time.

I also really enjoyed THE VISITANT, a beautifully written Gothic historical fiction novel set in Venice. Granted, it was a little bit too salacious for my taste, with a frankly bizarre glorification of sex, but it was a very atmospheric and compelling read.

I was also finally pleased to read two very popular YA books, WE HUNT THE FLAME and GIRL SERPENT THORN. I had a good time with both, but reading them once again underscored how much my taste has shifted from YA in the past couple of years. They’re still always so tempting, which is why I’ve still got quite a few YA books on my most anticipated list for next year, but I really should be more discerning about them given how my taste has changed.

I also read a classic, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, and pretty much hated it. I didn’t realize it was essentially a children’s novel, with a whole lot of whimsy and nonsense. Mostly, I thought it was random and boring. Howl was an interesting character, but otherwise I didn’t like much about it, and by the end was just forcing myself to get through it by skimming huge chunks, something I very rarely do.

I was also supposed to read ORLANDO by Virginia Woolf for my book club, but I started reading it and could not get past the first page, so…that would make this the only month in the entire year that I don’t read the book club pick. Alas.


CURRENTLY READING/TBR

I am really only currently reading THE HOLLOW PLACES, which I have been meaning to get to for so, so long. Like T. Kingfisher’s other horror novel, this is extremely readable and humorous, so I think it’ll be an easy, quick read. DETRANSITION BABY is December’s book club novel, and it’s one I’ve been wanting to read for a while, so I’m looking forward to that. Finally, I’m hoping to read THE FROZEN CROWN, which came on my radar because the author and I share the same editor, plus it’s also a fantasy duology, so I figure it can’t hurt to check it out and hopefully learn something, especially since it has some pretty good reviews!


FILM AND TV

THE LITTLE STRANGER is a pretty faithful adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel; I especially was fond of the score. My only gripe was with the casting. I don’t think either Domhnall Gleeson or Ruth Wilson were suited for these roles. First off, they’re the same age, when in the book the significant age difference between them was a major point. I also just…don’t like Domhnall Gleeson, generally, and I don’t think he had enough gravitas for this role, though he did manage to make Dr Faraday very menacing.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP is a very weird, very campy 80s slasher flick that I watched with my friends because this is truly a movie to enjoy with company. It’s absolutely ridiculous, with terrible acting and some very weird shots. It’s also famous for having one of the most shocking twist endings in all of horror, apparently. Personally, I think the twist is more interesting than it is shocking — my reaction to it was mostly a lot of questions and confusions and a desire to discuss.

Finally, I kind of watched THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. I say kind of because it was playing in the background while I was playing cards with my family after Thanksgiving dinner. I of course have heard of this very famous movie that takes on horror tropes and attempts to flip them, but somehow had never seen it before. I thought it was a really interesting film! It definitely does not go where you expect it to go, and the ending is…truly something.


I binged the entirety of ARCANE in a single sitting with my brother and his friend, both of whom used to be obsessed with League of Legends, so it was really interesting to watch with them and see them recognize characters. I really, really enjoyed this, and I think it was spectacularly done. Like, the music, character design, voice acting, and the freaking animation, man. All just so top-tier; you can tell some really, really talented people worked on this. The fight scenes were incredible!

I thought the plot was a little bit…well, not weak, exactly, and not even confusing, really, but I think they could have taken some time to dig more into its complexities. This would have been helped by some more worldbuilding; there’s definitely a lot to this world, but very little of it is explained. Like, why is there an undercity and a fancy city and how can you tell who comes from where? Is the Council elected or appointed? What exactly is Heimerdinger and where did all these different races come from? Why were Powder and Vi’s parents murdered by enforcers? How did Mel find herself on the council when she’s from another country?

I just felt like I had a lot of questions as I was watching, but I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to ask. I think part of it is that the series tries not to over-explain to their viewers; they assume you’re smart and can follow along. But there’s a fine line between trusting your viewer and leaving out important info that can make for a richer viewing experience.

Regardless, I really loved this. There are so many characters to root for, especially female characters. Jinx is SO fascinating; her development is both heartbreaking and just, well, cool. She’s such a cool character. And I mean, so much of this show is very cool, but Jinx just takes the cake, and her voice actress does such a fantastic job. And there’s Vi and Caitlyn and I can’t believe that they’re practically canon??? And then of course there’s Mel Medarda, whose whose character design is gorgeous, and she’s just so interesting.

In general, there’s a real depth to all of the characters here; they all have complex backstories and motivations, they hesitate, they change their mind, they contradict themselves, they try to do the right thing and fail, and they just…feel so much like real people. This is helped by the truly stunning animation that manages to convey the minutiae of facial expressions in a way I’ve rarely seen in animation before. I am SO excited for season 2!

Then I also caught up on LAW AND ORDER SVU (I cannot believe I am still religiously watching this show but there you go) and BIG SKY. I have to say, regarding the latter, I enjoy it very much, but the two main characters are both so weirdly abrasive. Like, they’re supposed to be private investigators, so you’d think they’d be better at greasing wheels, you know? But instead they always come out swinging, and swinging hard, and it’s really frustrating to see them always come up against roadblocks because their first instinct is to catch flies with vinegar instead of honey. But other than that, it’s a super compelling show, and my favorite character is Jerrie, a transfeminine former sex worker, who I think is actually going to have a romantic storyline with a cis man of color? I’m very excited!!!

In December I’m hoping to watch the second season of THE GREAT, rewatch season 1 of THE WITCHER and then watch season 2 when it comes out, and of course start THE WHEEL OF TIME, which I may watch with a friend, which is why I haven’t started yet, but we shall see! I also wanted to at least try out COWBOY BEBOP mainly because I love John Cho but also because I never watched the anime, but reviews so far have not been promising.


Writing/Life/Misc

I have received edits for THE DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR! They’re due January 5th, so that will probably take up the majority of my time and energy this month, and therefore I’m not expecting to be accomplishing much else (honestly, all those TV shows I want to watch are a pipe dream, and I don’t anticipate reading more than the three aforementioned books). I am also simultaneously working on the second installment of this duology, which is coming along better now that I’ve spoken with my editor about it and about how the first book should lead into it.

I didn’t really do much else in November except take a brief day trip to Beacon, a cute little town in upstate New York, with my best friend. We stopped by a farm and its country store, took a pretty interesting tour of the Madam Brett Homestead (an 18th-century home that is apparently the oldest standing building in the county) while it was pouring rain outside, explored some cute boutiques (I bought a hat and some fancy cheese), and then had a mediocre dinner at a Doctor Who-themed restaurant. It was fun! It was nice to get out of the city and see some leaves, you know?

I am very much feeling the Christmas spirit this year; the other day I put on my Christmas playlist and a fireplace video on YouTube. I really wanna take out our Christmas tree and am hoping I don’t get too lazy, since the tree is stuffed in one of the attic closets and the door is blocked by a ton of stuff I will have to move…but I’m planning on inviting folks over for a Christmas dinner so it would be really nice if the living room were actually festive!

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