It was my BIRTHDAY yesterday, friends! The DAY of my BIRTH!
I spent it hanging around with people and eating trashy things, so I figured I’d bump my traditional birthday/middle of the year Best Of (So Far) post back a day. Here it is, featuring all my 4.5- and 5-star reads for 2016 to date in the order I discovered them:
I know. I read a fic, and I loved it so much that it’s a prime contender for my overall Best of 2016 list. Who even am I?
This one’s also notable in that it uses a trope that normally squicks me out: the "I knew them when they were a kid and I was an adult but now they’re an adult and I want to bone them" thing. (It squicks me out so much that I've never bothered to learn its proper name.) Most of the time, I run across this and I'm like, "Ew." Here I was like, "Okay, whatevs."
It helps that all the desperate longing we see on the page comes from the younger person.
Speaking of which, the fic's about Poe Dameron having this massive crush on Luke Skywalker for pretty well his whole life, and I've always disliked Luke. (He's so whiny, then so full of himself, then so whiny and full of himself.) HOW DOES LEUPAGUS MAKE ME LIKE THINGS WHAT IS THIS SORCERY.
I bought Tiny Poe because of this fic and I ain’t even sorry.
I’m the world’s biggest sucker for a How Stuff Works book, meaning the Newsflesh series is firmly in my wheelhouse. It's all about how people a) survive and b) disseminate information after the zombie apocalypse. Hello, gorgeous. The only reason I haven't also listed FEED here is that I read it in late 2015, disqualifying it from all 2016 Best Ofs
Newsflesh, too, uses one of my usual So-Squicked-Out-Oh-Gods-No tropes, but I shan’t tell you what it is because it’s a pretty major spoiler. If you don’t care about spoilers, you can surely find the relevant information elsewhere on the internet.
It took me ages and ages and ages to finish Elizabeth Bear's wampyr series, but I got there in the end. I adored the conclusion, obviously, but I'd rather not go into detail because it's all tangled up with spoilers and high emotion. One of those.
You should totally read these books if you’re into queer alternate histories with mysterious events, vampires, and forensic sorcerers. Start with NEW AMSTERDAM.
Commercial Suicide by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie et al - 4.5 stars - Review
This’s the third volume of THE WICKED + THE DIVINE. It’s a puzzle series, so you don’t want to start here. Go back to the beginning.
I loved it deep in my soul because it’s messy and full of answers that breed more questions, and because the Tara issue is wonderful, and because it ends with a total !!!!!!!! moment, and because the guest artists are fabulous, and because the issue McKelvie draws is full of visual remixes and that’s the sort of thing I geek the fuck out over.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - 5 stars - Review
Listen, it’s a commentary on Harry Potter and on fandom in general, and it's got strong ties to FANGIRL, and it’s a queer love story in which one of the parties is a jackass vampire.
As if I was ever gonna be able to resist it.
I’ve loved all the Princeless comics, but Raven is my absolute favourite. She’s a queer WOC who SAILS THE FRICKIN’ SEAS WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER AWESOME GIRLS AND THERE ARE GEEKY JOKES INCLUDING AN ATLA REFERENCE AND SWASHES GET BUCKLED AND SOMETIMES PEOPLE DANCE AND THERE’S ALSO CARTOGRAPHY GOING ON.
It’s really great, okay?
I started to write about LIESMITH immediately after I read it, but I went off on a tangent about how thirteen-year-old me remained spoiler free for Norse mythology and spent the whole damned introductory text rooting for Loki only to get a very nasty shock, and I, um, got distracted.
What you need to know is, this is post-Ragnarok Norse mythology set in Australia. It’s really queer. Everybody respects each other’s boundaries. Everybody does geeky stuff. It delighted the hell out of me.
And it’s yet another book that uses a trope I always figured I'd shy away from; namely, My Billionaire Dinosaur CEO Boyfriend (sort of).
It’s awesome. I promise. It’s digital-first, too, which means it’s only $2.99, which means you should totally buy it.
I still love the hell out of SKIP BEAT! as of volume 36. That probably says it all.
Hey, you know what I want for my birthday? For you to buy yourself literally anything on Amazon using my referral link so I'll get a bit of credit towards more digital SKIP BEAT!. I've got enough for volume 37, which drops in September, but I've gotta think ahead to volume 38's eventual release.
You could get LIESMITH! LIESMITH is a super good choice, and I promise to spend my $0.12 commission wisely (ie, on digital SKIP BEAT!).
When I first finished A GATHERING OF SHADOWS, I declared myself unready to say anything more about it than, "I LOVED IT SO MUCH SO MUCH SO MUCH!!!!"
It’s been a couple months now, so I feel prepared to tell you I loved it because it’s got sailing, queer folks, siblings, characters who’ll do anything, and MAGICAL FUCKING SPORTS.
I like sports stories. Especially magical ones.
It's worthy noting, too, that Jenny correctly intuited that part of my love sprang from how there's MOAR RHY here than in the first book. Excellent work, Jenny. You have passed this Friendship Test.
I don’t even care that this book may not actually be perfect. It’s fucking perfect.
I had to add it and the rest of the Raven Cycle to my Ultimate Favourite Books list, meaning fully half of said list now consists of two four-book series in which queer assholes do dream magic. I’ve got a weirdly specific bookish type.
(Seriously, if you don't wanna buy yourself anything from Amazon you can tell me about all the queer-assholes-doing-dream-magic books as your birthday present to me. Obviously I already know about the Raven Cycle, and Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths is the other series on my Ultimate Faves list so you needn't worry I've missed out on it.)
Obviously my desire to keep THE KINGDOM OF GODS to myself won out over my desire to write about it outside of Murchie Plus Books.
Can I tell you I like how Jemisin pulls out all the stops with the queerness here, though? Her Inheritance world has seriously queer roots, but in the first two books you can maybe ignore them if you want to be one of those ghastly people who denies others’ genders and sexualities. Here, only the most willfully oblivious person could pretend this ain’t super-duper queer.
Oh, and THE KINGDOM OF GODS also uses two tropes that follow me around lately. One's a pretty big (albeit totally guessable) spoiler; the other is Secret Islands.
I had so much trouble not bawling in the street over this gorgeous, gorgeous book. It's the best children's novel I've read in years.
If you’re a hearing person, you should listen to the audiobook of ECHO. The story has music at its heart, and it’s so, so cool to be able to experience each song the way the characters do.
YOTSUBA&! IS THE CUTEST THING EVER AND I’M GONNA HAVE A PROPER REVIEW OF IT FOR YOU REALLY, REALLY SOON BECAUSE IT’S MY NEW FAVOURITE AND THE PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW.
Since you really do need to know right now, here're the basics: Yotsuba is a small girl who moves to a new town and sets out to explore it, either in company with the older girls who live next door or alongside her dad and his friends. The tagline is Enjoy Everything, and Yotsuba totally lives up to it. Every volume is packed with wonderment.
Also, her neighbour Fuuka dresses her up as a pumpkin for Hallowe'en and it's absolutely the cutest thing in the entire world.
Every year for the last ten years, I’ve read at least one amazing book in June. This year’s June Books were YOTSUBA&! and CHILDREN OF EARTH AND SKY.
The latter feels special because TIGANA was one of my first June Books, along with Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. And of course, it's a deeply special book on its own account. It's lingered with me, and I expect it to keep that up for quite some time.
So, those are my faves. Tell me yours, please.