Hi, lovelies. Coming in late again. Here’s my month in books, movies, games, and podcasts.
A friend loaned me a copy of Madeline Miller’s Circe, offering high praise for the book and its feminist take on the ancient Greek myth. Once I opened the first page, I was immediately immersed in the mythological worlds of Ancient Greek gods and goddesses with all their politics and family drama. Reading this book reminded me of how much I loved learning about these myths when I was in school, and I loved the way Miller portrayed Circe and the other gods, illuminating the a sense of magic and power. Some of the gods feel alien and dangerous in how disconnected they are from mortals, while Circe has an inherent sense of humanity in her longing to feel connected with them. I loved the ways in which Miller weaved various classical stories and tales into the text, and I especially enjoyed her feminist take, which presents a more complex view of a powerful woman.
Another great read this month was The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix. Inspired by the slasher films of the ’80s, the story takes place years after the women’s confrontations with brutal murderers. These final girls have faced death and fought off their killers, surviving into middle age while carrying ongoing ailments from their injuries and trauma, including anxiety, PTSD, and other issues. Bound by their shared trauma, the women attend support group meetings, a tether that slowly frays as some members attempt to move on. Things get incrementally worse, however, when it appears that someone is out to kill them.
Hendrix is fantastic at creating fast-paced, action packed stories that leave me wanting to consume a book all in one go. I also like that these women are rough-edged, hard, and strong-willed, with all the complexities that comes with having survived terrible events.
Books Finished This Month:
1. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
2. Circe by Madeline Miller
Total Books for the Year:Â 30
Still in Progress at the End of the Month:Â The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix andÂ The Mothman PropheciesÂ by John A. Keel
Short Stories & Poetry
“You Can Stay All Day” by Mira Grant (PseudoPod) â€” “The merry-go-round was still merry-going, painted horses prancing up and down while the calliope played in the background, tinkly and bright and designed to attract children all the way from the parking lot.”
“Now I am My Father” by Maggie Smith (Berfrois) â€”
spendy, top-shelf light
when the sun costs us
nothing? No one
meters it streaming in.”
“Next in Line” by Gail Newman (SWIIM) â€”
“A woman sleeping in the burned-grass patch of lawn
in front of my parentsâ€™ house, beside the Bird of Paradiseâ€™s
beaked flames, a flicker of dream-sleep under shut-lid eyes.
Beside her body the wire cage of a shopping cart,
rubbish piled high like graveyard dirt, “
After watching What We Do in the Shadows, followed by Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi has quickly become one of my favorite directors. I love his unique sense of humor and creative style â€” and watching Â Hunt for the Wilderpeople has further cemented my love of his work. Staring Julian Dennison as a rebellious kid and Sam Neil as his reclusive foster uncle, the film is a charming comedy, in which the two take off into the bush following the death of Bella (their foster aunt/wife). Their adventure grows increasingly wild, as the outside world spins their escape into a media-frenzied hunt for the supposed outlaws. Like much of Waititi’s work, this movie is wacky and heartfelt and wonderful in equal measures.
Based on a YA novel (that I have not yet read),Â Spontaneous was quite a wonderful surprise. When a senior in high school spontaneously combusts â€” not in flames, but in a sudden splattering of blood â€” Mara and the rest of the senior class are thrust into shock and fear, each attempting to find their own meaning in terrifying events. Mara is just as surprised when fellow classmate Dylan decides to seize the day and declare his years-long crush on her. In the midst of more combustions, medical tests, and quarantine, the pair choose to enjoy their time together, even if death may be just around the corner.
I came for the blood splatter and dark humor and stayed for the emotionally moving story of loss, grief, and learning how to continue on when the world seems terrifying and unpredictable.
New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. Mortal Kombat (2021)
2. Spontaneous (2020)
3. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
4. Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
5. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
I’ve been loosing hours over the last month playing The Sims 4. I enjoy the act of building and creating characters, as well as some of the gameplay elements â€” however, the fact that I’m playing on PlayStation instead of a PC makes the gameplay infinitely more difficult. Sometimes I watch other folks play The Sims (all of whom play on PC) and nearly all of them are able to use cheat codes and other functionalities that make the experience of gameplay more interesting. In other words, I’m caught between enjoying the gameplay and the frustration of trying to play it on console. I might actually buy a new PC strictly for gaming â€” not just for The Sims, but for other games in general and possibly some game design. Â
Writing Excuses has presented a fantastic series of episodes on the M.I.C.E Quotient, which essentially breaks down to Milieu, Inquiry, Character, and Event. Each element is a different way of approaching and thinking about story. As the hosts discuss, these elements are often nested within one another.
Wanting to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of game development, I dived into the first season of the Games, Grit & Gratitude podcast, in which Roger Reichardt interviews Jean Leggett about her experience in the games industry and starting up a development studio with her husband. The show covers a wide range of topics, from branding to putting together a team and avoiding hucksters. One of the things I love about this show is how open Jean is about her experiences, including the less than pleasant mistakes made along the way. I’m looking forward to when season two is available.
In Playing Blind, the Imaginary Worlds host Erin Molinsky explores accessibility in the games industry with blind accessibility advocates Liam Erven, Brandon Cole, and Aaron Baker. Together they discus how the industry is improving in regard to accessibility and where it needs to do better.
On the Book Riot Podcast, Jeff and Rebecca partake in the Book Nerd Movie Club and geek out about the The Martian. As a fellow fan of both the book and film, I really enjoyed this conversation.
That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?