Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, and games.
T. Kingfisher never fails to craft books with darkly beautiful concepts that terrifying me, while simultaneously making me love the characters and feel for their journey. Her new book, A House with Good Bones, is no exception.
After her archeological dig site temporarily closes down, Sam returns to her family home while she waits for work to start up again. Her mom greets her with warmth and joy, but there’s something off. Her mom has repainted the house to bland neutral colors that she normally hates, refuses to curse, and is generally acting anxious and cagey — to such a degree that she begins to worry about her mental health.
But there are signs of other kinds of strangeness — vultures keeping watch, ladybugs swarming the house, among other things — signs that hint at something else, something ghostly and sinister going on in the background.
Like her other works, this book offers wonderfully wrought characters with solid, supporting relationships — along with a terrifying supernatural threat. It makes for a fast-paced and fun read.
M Archive: After the End of the World by Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a stunning collection of poetry. Inspired by M. Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred, a transnational black feminist text, Gumbs envisions humanity at the end of the world. While there is struggle, this is not the typical depiction of humanity as viciously and violently struggling for survival, but a vision of humanity as transformational. As the environment and world shifts (due to human causes), humanity takes to the dirt, sky, fire, and sea, creating new communities and ways of being. It’s a beautiful, compelling and hopeful depiction.
“most of us got there naked, burnt, raw with rashes, scarred. we had put down everything that didn’t hold blood and some parts of us that did. we had brushed agains the jagged histories that forced us to travel our different ways out.”
— from “Archive of Sky” p. 78
“there was never rain. but she waited for lighting to find her. the mercury of her veins aligning with the shock of being here after everything and before whatever. her heart was accelerated coal, growing deep dark and sharp. she kept on breathing, prostrate, burning, knowing soon it would be clear and unbreakable. her beautiful blackening heart.”
— from “Archive of Fire” p. 91
“she had a self sharpening spirit. that’s how she would describe it afterward. everything that happened rubbed against her right in the middle until you could see her glint when she smiled.”
— from “Memory Drive” p. 188
If you’re looking to put a little magic into your days, Lisa Marie Basile’s City Witchery is an excellent read. Cities are often seen as sleek, bustling, overstimulating, and soulless, not a place to find connection with the earth or magic — but Basile’s book offers a different perspective. Her words encourage readers to find ways to tap into the unique energy of a city by wandering its streets and crossroads, connecting with its history, art, and culture. In addition, she offering ideas for bringing ritual and sacred into your life, especially when dealing with tight spaces, like apartments, or limited privacy, like roommate situations. Whether you are witchy or not, Basile’s book is a wonderful read.
Books Finished This Month:
1. Interstellar Flight Magazine: Best of Year, edited by Holly Lynn Walrath and Sydney Richardson
2. Narrative Design for Writers by Edwin McRae
3. M Archive: After the End of the World by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
4. A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher
5. City Witchery by Lisa Marie Basile
Total Books for the Year: 16
Still in Progress at the End of the Month: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, Wandering Games by Melissa Kagen, and Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games by Tracy Fullerton
Short Stories & Poetry
“How to Stay Married to Baba Yaga” by S.M. Hallow (Baffling) —
“1. Don’t ask if the pot roast is made from human meat.”
“Blackberry Nights” by Myna Chang (Cease, Cows) —
“You watched your grandmother cut back the blackberry canes every spring, saw how she bore the thorns and the loss.”
“Sahalie Falls” by Kenzie Allen (Sierra Club) —
“So let her be powerful,
from bedrock to bend,
a towering cascade
fit to smooth stone.
Let her bones rhythm
on the waters of her name,
a home, never the same”
“Bones in It” by Kristina Ten (PseudoPod) —
“Besides the vedma who lived behind the stove in steam room three, the banya in Grand Lake Plaza was the same as any other budget day spa on Chicago’s West Side.”
“The Cinder Girl Burns Brightly” by Theodora Goss —
“Each night, her mother speaks to her out of the fire:
come to me, my daughter. Come into the flames.
And the Cinder Girl, the one they call Dirty Ella,
even the housekeeper, even the kitchen maid,
steps into the fireplace. She burns”
John Wick: Chapter 4 was another phenomenally fun entry in the Wick universe. Wick continues to fight against the powers that be in this realm of assassins, vying for revenge and escape from the cycle of violence. The action choreography continues to be top notch. The world building is wildly fascinating and there is definitely room for more stories set in this universe.
I watched The Banshees of Inisherin, which is a bleakly dark comedy about a small Irish island. One day, with no warning whatsoever, Colm (Brendan Gleeson) ends his friendship with Pádraic (Colin Farrell), stating that he merely wishes for peace and quiet and the space to write music on his fiddle. The call for peace, however, only leads to more conflict in an increasingly dark array of events. Despite the excellent acting and filmmaking, this one was a bit too much of a downer for my personal taste.
New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)
2. The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
3. See How They Run (2022)
I didn’t play many games this past month, so it’s a short list — Mutazione (developed by Die Gute Fabrik) and Fantasian (developed by Mistwalker) — and I only played each game for a small amount of time. My thoughts on these can be found here.
That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?