2022 faves

I did a lot of rereading this year, so this is full of more new music than books.

Fiction books

M.A. Carrick’s The Mask of Mirrors and The Liar’s Knot (Rose and Rook #1 & 2)

Akwaeke Emezi’s You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty

Jackie Lau’s The Stand-Up Groomsman (Donut Fall in Love #2)

Ed. Andrea Purcell’s Sordid Past

Honorable mention: Robert Jackson Bennett’s Locklands (The Founders Trilogy #3) and Ilona Andrews’ Ruby Fever (Hidden Legacy #6)

For sticking the landing as a trilogy closers.

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Dec 2022, fave media

Books

Rebecca Roanhorse’s Tread of Angels

This was so good, and I hope Roanhorse revisits this heroine. While not a romance like Bridgerton, it does hit the same sweet spot S2 hit for me about being bound by guilt and familial obligation. I also love that the heroine realizes her own capacity for cruelty.

Re-read: Akwaeke Emezi’s Dear Senthuran

On rereading this, I think this is overlooked as a book about the writing life.

Re-read: Nalini Singh’s Last Guard (Psy-Changeling Trinity #5)

Re-read: Joey W. Hill’s Worth the Wait (Nature of Desire #9)


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Nov 2022, fave media

Books

The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin (Great Cities #2)

For whatever reason, I didn’t like the first book in this duo, but I adored The World We Make. I laughed, I hollered, and I shed a tear or two too.

Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai

I’ve been following Rai since her indie days, and this is the first of her trad pub novels that I think captures the magic of her indies.

The Stand-Up Groomsman by Jackie Lau (Donut Fall In Love #2)

Representation I didn’t know I wanted or needed.

Other Ever Afters by Melanie Gillman

My heart!

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Oct 2022, fave media

Books

A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone

The Future is Disabled by Leah Lakshmi Pipezna-Samarasinha

Author’s Patreon here.

Pimiko and the Uncharted Island by forthright

This series remains some of the queerest stuff I’ve ever read (FFM queerplatonic triad in this one), and yet some of the worldbuilding choices are bewildering to me. That said, I will be sad when this series ends with the next (7th book). Author’s Patreon here.


Music

dolltr!ck’s Let This Go

Leyla McCalla’s Dodinin & Fort Dimanche (Live at NPR Tiny Desk)

Allison Russell’s Kathy (Live at Juno Songwriters’ Circle 2022)

Pharaoh Sanders’ Selflessness

Sophia Subbayya Vastek’s album, In Our Softening

Jazmine Sullivan’s Stand Up

Vienna Teng’s Lost Words Blessing (Spell Songs cover)

The last song on her Live @ Home Set #2 (Oct 2022) if you subscribe to her Patreon.

Jamila Woods’ Boundaries

Sept 2022, fave media

Misc.

Re-read: Alyssa Cole’s Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.6)

Re-read: Alyssa Cole’s A Prince on Paper (Reluctant Royals #3)

Don’t miss the epilogue from the teddy bear’s POV.

Podcast: Therapy Ghostbusters

After reading Stephanie Foo’s What My Bones Know, I heard her do an interview with Esmé Weijun Wang where she mentioned this topic. I’m thrilled she was able to explore it in podcast form. Transcript here.

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Aug 2022, fave media

Books

Ilona Andrews’ Ruby Fever (Hidden Legacy #6)

No complaint in this trilogy ender. So good. Also dead @ Vicky Baby. I’m hoping for an Arabella trilogy in the future! That said, this is not the book to start on in this series; start either with Burn for Me (Nevada’s first novel) or Sapphire Flames (Catalina’s first novel).

Jamie Wesley’s Fake It Till You Bake It

The romance book club made this for me.

Julia Whelan’s Thank You For Listening

The author has spent a lot of time in the romance industry, and you can tell. If you read romance, this is an absolute delight.

Kendra Allen’s Fruit Punch

Broadened my mind on what is possible in memoir with the way time slips when you look back.

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June 2022, fave media

Lots of Ilona Andrews, good tunes, and some live events.

Rereads

Ilona Andrews’ Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) & Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder #1)

This series/universe continues to be a joy/comfort.

Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy #1-5

In case you couldn’t tell, Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite authors. I didn’t time this in order to be ready for Ruby Fever, but it worked out quite nicely. Also I will take Alessandro over Rogan any day.

Forthright’s Dragged Through Hedgerows (Songs of the Amaranthine #3)

Another comfort read.


Audio

Beyoncé’s Break My Soul

A jam.

Seinabo Sey’s Blessed

Blue and Rom Com were two of my favorite tracks last year, and this one is no exception.

Wooden Overcoats S4

Whewwww the character development/pay off, especially Antigone’s. Also Chapman’s mysterious backstory revealed!

Relisten: Life With Leo(h) S1

Which is also crowdfunding it’s second and final season here!


Live

Hadestown

I hate unhappy endings, and yet here I am saying this was excellent. See it live if you can.

Stars on Ice

Holy smokes, watching the Olympic programs live was an Experience. Especially Jason Brown’s Sinnerman, which broke my brain with its brilliance.

May 2022, fave media

Books

Akwaeke Emezi’s You Made A Fool of Death With Your Beauty

Whewww, what a book about being alive. The implorement to live reminds me of Princess Mononoke, tbh.

Ed. Andrea Purcell’s Sordid Past

An Iron Circus comic anthology is guaranteed to be great art and very gay. Their Smut Peddler line continues to be some of the best erotica anthologies on the market. This one is no exception.

Re-reads: Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels #6-9 + Iron Covenant #1

Smart, hilarious, and unforgettable characters you love dearly. In other words, magic.


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prose poem: taurus birthday affirmation

Written for the inimitable kuuleimomi’s birthday. Crossposted to IG.

There’s a Tumblr (?) post that goes something like this: staying soft in this world is not a weakness, it is a strength. This is a variation on that. This also draws from all the Chani Nicholas affirmation horoscopes I’ve read over the years.


Keeping your hands open in this world that has brought down rulers upon your palms. Keeping your mouth open, even after your then-best-friend put the black licorice jellybean, your least favorite flavor, on your tongue. Keeping on, even after capitalism squeezes every cent from your blood, the joy from your marrow.

All of this is a skill. One of my favorite quotes (author unknown even with googling) is that the heart is a muscle, and like any muscle it can grow as we use it. Our ability to remain open, receptive, vulnerable, whatever you like to call it, is also one of these muscles. I have practiced unclenching my hands, even as I sleep, so I can catch whatever dreams come my way. Naming what I want, asking for what I want, letting myself have what I want – I have practiced all of these. I still do.

To paraphrase the end of the Utena movie, the world gets that much bigger for the way we live, pushing at the limits of what we are told is possible. Octavia says the only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it’s been done before.

So I believe in wedding rings on all my fingers, vows of commitment to all my relations beneath this sky and maybe even beyond it. I believe in your palm in mine, and another’s in yours, and another’s in theirs going on and on – a whole loving community. I believe in rain on my tongue, and all the fine dining and comfort food I love. Speaking of love, I believe in love running through my veins, that love is a key and a door to a different world. I believe in pleasure that makes me cry out, in joy that pours through every crack and crevice and barrier ever put in place.

On this day and all days, I keep on, I choose to try, I choose to believe.