Media Roundup May 2024

I’m still dealing with a huge reading block, but the last couple weeks have been…somewhat productive, but mostly only if you count rereading stuff I haven’t read in like, a long time. I was recently going through my kindle library, deleting stuff from authors who’ve pissed me off, and I found, way down in the depths, a bunch of books I decided I really wanted to reread.

It’s weird to reread books you haven’t even looked at in years. Like, knowing what happens without remembering any of the details is a weird sensation. Anyway, I reread Ginn Hale’s Cadeleonian series, or rather, the first four books–I knew there were two more but I never did get them, a problem I should remedy now, since these are really good books. Though they are definitely not for the faint of heart. Hale does not flinch from the ugliness of racism, religious prejudice, or the absolute grimy, bloody horror of living in a late medieval setting. But the characters are wonderfully, lovingly rendered, and the plotting is top-notch.

After that, I reread the Lynes and Mathey series, by Melissa Scott, which consists of two gaslamp fantasy mysteries set in a London with an interesting magical system. Then I started to reread another of her series, the Astreiant series. It’s another one with really interesting magic, this one based on astrology, and it’s a matriarchal setting, which is honestly so refreshing. I’ve got through three of the five books so far, but stalled out after that, because the problem with me and reading is that when I start a book there are only two outcomes: I hate it and quit, or I read until I’m done. And if I’m reading through a series of fairly long books, that can pose a problem for getting literally anything else done. I miss being able to listen to audiobooks, but since I went off my antidepressants, I can barely get through them. I have so many I’ve stalled out on halfway through and just can’t get back to them.

I did manage to listen all the way through the audiobook of Most Ardently, by Gabe Cole Novoa, though it was definitely an Experience. I kept having to rewind because I would just zone out without meaning to. Also the narration was done at such a low tone and volume that it was difficult to hear over the air conditioner unless I used my in-ear earbuds. That was my only complaint about the narration, though, the narrator did a good job otherwise. The story itself is a trans Pride and Prejudice, with Oliver (the Elizabeth character as a trans boy) as the POV character. It’s a very internal story for Oliver, rather than an attempt at a strict, period-accurate depiction of the trans experience, so it really feels more like a fairy-tale. This impression is only strengthened by the many instances of modern vernacular that might turn off a more historically minded reader.

That’s not to say it’s purely fluff. The focus on Oliver’s dysphoria was intense enough that even I found it upsetting, and the transphobia from the antagonist–let’s just say that there are certain parallels to my own orientation which made the threat of being forced to live as a wife and mother all the more horrifying to contemplate.

I also read K.L. Noone’s latest, a novella from her Magician series, and it was…fine. Would have been a much more interesting story if we’d been able to see the development of Van and Milo’s relationship as opposed to simply being told how they became friends. It functions better as a look at Lorre’s early character. Honestly my favorite part of the book was the list of story ideas at the back, especially ‘Five hundred years later, archeologists excavate the site of Lorre and Garrett’s first school’ which, if she doesn’t get around to writing, I definitely will at some point. I can’t stop thinking about how Lorre would react in a modern day setting, especially considering the climate change issues and how he would feel about all that with his connection to the natural world, and I think I just gave myself an idea for a novel. (because I needed another one lolsob)

Lastly, and the reason this is a media roundup instead of my usual reading roundup, I watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies last night and…wow, what a bad movie. Like, I read the book, back when this silly publishing trend was actually booming, and it was just some good, ridiculous fun, but the movie was so badly edited and the dialogue and characterization was so minimal that it doesn’t even qualify as a popcorn flick. The way they were stringing together the most well-known lines of dialogue from the original just made the poor handling of the rest of the story all the more execrable.

Some other notes: I had to give up listening to Gideon the Ninth a few weeks ago right as the plot was starting to kick in, because my brain is trash, but the ebook was available from the library so I plan to try that and see if I can’t get through it this time. Also the next Psycop book is out, and I still have KJ Charles’ latest, and I got one of Cat Sebastian’s books on sale, and two Astreiant books left, one of which I never did get around the reading when I bought it. Fortunately for me I did buy it, apparently they’re out of print right now :(