HulloooooooOoOOOOoooooo! Yes, tis I, Lady Cade of the Underbooks, really f///ing behind on books and reviews and life and things. And I’ve missed this blog and missed writing and reading, but good golly, these past two months? Time is an illusion, and I had precisely none of it to contribute to this lil shelf on the internet. But Hullo, welcome back, and I just wanted to stop by to share a truly random, beloved, little, heartful Top Ten list.
Let’s just dive in and then I’ll give a smidgen of a life update and a dash of my hope for the coming year. I just have one, my dudes.
1. The Haunting of Hill House
For horror to succeed, for it to sink its hooks in you so you’ll remember it long after the shock of it all, it has to have heart. This adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic is brilliant, layering flashbacks and storylines and revelations over each other to create a striking palimpsest of grief and loss. I come from not the closest family, and I don’t want my own biological children, and I’ve certainly never been haunted by a summer spent in a house of death, but the Crain siblings spoke to me. In all of their different escapes, both poisonous and soothing, in all of their guilts and wishes.
This series is finely acted and plotted, and it’s not perfect, but I love it so anyway. I’m also grateful for the source material, a rather different set-up for these disparate characters to come together, and the writing is incredible. There are lines that just exploded off the page to sink themselves into my twinned heart. I’m just grateful this story found me this year, and I hope it finds you, too, if learning about haunted people just happens to be your cup of tea.
Oh, yes, somehow, this year I just fell down the rabbit hole to Punderland. I’ve been given a Pun Jar at my weekly game night. I’m being punished you see, by having to sacrifice pennies to the mason jar any time a pun tumbles from mine lips. I love it, though. I just… do. They’re stupid. They’re clever. Sometimes they’re original, ha. Here are some of my recent faves, and I won’t mind, or even know, if you scroll right on past to save yourself. Highlight to reveal the punnery!
Why did the two penguins jump up and down when they first met?
They were trying to break the ice!
What do you call a bird that’s empty inside?
A paraYEET! (And after you throw it, it’s quite an angry bird.)
Why was the witch’s broom license revoked?
Because she was always flying off the handle!
What do you call it when you cross a cantalope with Lassie?
A meloncollie baby!
I left a Yelp review for Orion’s Belt.
3. Six of Crows
If there’s one book that broke me and also inspired me and just made me really freaking happy this year, boom, Six of Crows was it. It’s just so so well-done, my dudes. It lived up to the hype. This is multiple POVs done right, and diversity and world-building, and character beats and tension and LOVE and just UGH. UGH I say. Highly recommend and hoo boy I need to read more from Bardugo. *We’re not worthy*
From this little blurgh, offering up beloved books and film and random thoughts and raw honesty, to in real life connections, where I’ve gotten to rub shoulders with the friends I’m introducing the beloved things to, and had shoulders to lean on when I’ve shared random thoughts and raw honesty, this last half a year or so has been… different. Unexpectedly so, and thankfully well-received overall. My brain hasn’t changed. I’m feeling that imposter syndrome; like hearing a waterfall in the distance, every now and then the sound registers really starkly, but I’m mostly able to ignore it. But if I had never started writing on this blog, or said yes to a certain question, or pushed myself to do that thing I’ve always avoided… My life has been a series of not and it’s been nice to try things out this past bit. I would lovelovelove to have a week to do nothing but sleep and read and rest, but well, that has always been true and it always will be. No one will ever have enough time to do everything they want to do. So just trying to do the best I can each day… at the moment, I feel enough.
5. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
This 👏 movie 👏 is 👏 actually 👏 perfect 👏 in 👏 every 👏 way.
Yes. 👏 Really.
I feel like this year a lot of nostalgic things were afoot. Or afooted across my path, and made my childish heart very happy. As You Wish by Cary Elwes, which is about the making of The Princess Bride, was a delight to listen to with the audiobook version. It was just incredible to relive that classic film with Elwes and the cast and to learn that it was truly a lucky and wonderful group of people that came together to make that special little film. From learning how kind Andre the Giant was and how much alcohol he could put away (the entire hotel bar!) to feeling like sobbing when Mandy Patinkin recounted how slaying the Six-Fingered Man as Inigo Montoya was like killing the cancer that got his father… sniff, that’s some good nostalgia right there.
There was also Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (whoop, one of those lost reviews, I tell ya, my mindspace is littered with them (spring cleaning folks, it’s gonna happen)). It was just the most fun, oddball nostalgic realistic send-up of Scooby-doo. My childhood, brought back to life on the page. And made a bit gritty and a smidge darker and full of strange AF phrasing, but it was fun. And heckin’ gay.
Also, ALSO, Spyro was remastered and the first three games re-released and I died. That was one of the first video games I remember beating (that feeling of satisfaction!!). And it was incredible to play again, all shiny and detailed and new, but oh so familiar. The dragon redesigns were SO FREAKING CUTE and creative and nostalgia!
7. The Dragon Prince
Such a bloody gorgeous show, so diverse and dark and brilliant. This series did not let up. I can’t recommend it enough. Now I’m torn between wanting to live in this world or Avatar the Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra. But hey, with this reality, we get both, and both is good. So much thanks to these creators for continuing to craft worlds that are so ridiculously awesome and relatable.
For me, 2018 was the Year of the Bear. I’ve always loved the wibbly-wobbly snooted, big meaty paw wielding, hibernating fluff predators. But this year, that love grew. Enough that friends noticed. Enough that family noticed. Heck, I chose a bear as my logo because it just felt right. This year, I received some wonderful bear-related gifts, including a throw blanket with bears on it, and a rug with a bear on it, and a freaking lil wooden bench that says “I love bears” on it. HOW UNBEARABLY CUTE. Anywho, here are my Top Three Bears of 2018.
9. Rick and Morty
This show surprised me and continues to surprise me. It’s very clever. It’s also dark and perverse and weird and too clever for it’s own good and has the best f///ing time with it. Honestly, for the longest time, I thought this was a kid’s show… in the vein of Adventure Time or Steven Universe, sure, but still kid-appropriate. Yeah, this show is not that. But it still unexpectedly tugs at my heart strings and I never ever guess how creepy and dark the show will go, but it’s alternate universe flimflammery mayhem and it’s great.
A lot of things happened in 2018 that shouldn’t have (I write on a laptop, as an American with a roof over her head). That’s a trite summation of a clusterf/// of problems… but there is still good in this world. I see it at both of my jobs. At my library, when a grandpa spends half an hour working with and without me to find some books and movies to interest his granddaughters that are visiting. At my grocery store, when a coworker makes someone’s day with a free bouquet of flowers and a genuine smile. I seek out kindness in the fictional stories I consume, even the darkest ones, and it sustains me. I see it in all of these bookish circles as we encourage each other to read that book, write that review, put a pause on all of it to enjoy something different for however long we need. And I’ve been really fortunate these past couple of busy, intense, strange, wonderful months to be reminded that I am loved and valued and cared for.
Be kind to each other, my dudes. It’s the little things that can save someone, from a bad day, from themselves, from sinking. Kindness is free. And it’s one of my favorite things from the past year.