Author Events: Robin Hobb, M R Carey, Patrick Ness, and Natalie Haynes (all at events put on by Waterstones bookshops in the two cities nearest to me)
Plays seen: Gabriel, Lost Soul, Jayne Eyre, That Play That Goes Wrong (hilarious), Twelfth Night (at the Globe in London!), and A Comedy About A Bank Robbery
Concerts/gigs: Postmodern Jukebox, Hayley Reinhart, and Amanda Palmer (the first time I’ve been to a gig in London, a gig on my own, and to a drag show; I made friends with some strangers and had a wonderful time *grins*)
Trips: Edinburgh, Thought Bubble con in Leeds, and London & Salisbury
Favourite Films seen at the cinema: Hidden Figures, Logan, Gifted, and Thor Ragnarok
Favourite comics of 2017: Saga, The Wicked + The Divine, Runaways, Hawkeye, and Giant Days
Favourite Graphic Novels read in 2017: Porcelain: Ivory Tower, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, and The Vision (vol2): Little Better Than A Beast
Favourite Books read in 2017:
Instead of listing all the books I’ve read this year, which is what I usually do, I’m going to link you to my goodreads account and then share my favourite books of 2017. Picking favourites is HARD, but I tried -
All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle. Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one. A beautifully written story set in Colorado in 1962, about the Soria family, who can perform miracles, and the pilgrims who come calling. About family, friends, strangers, and connections. Love. Renegade radio. Supporting each other.
Artemis by Andy Weir
Andy Weir's second book had a lot to live up to, following the flyaway success of The Martian. It did not disappoint. It follows a smuggler living in the first moon colony as it looks at the practicalities and politics of lunar life, with Weir’s trademark wit and view that people working together is what makes space magic happen.
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
This joyful, banter-full YA book takes a good, long look at the genre of portal fiction and uses that conversation to address issues in our own reality, including in sexuality - particularly bisexuality - sexism, representation, pacifism, and colonisation. It has a fanfiction feel in some ways as the plot is character driven, there are plot elements usually found in fanfic rather than in print, and the author has clearly enjoyed the hell out of herself writing about her favourite things. This is my cup of tea. I re-read it before the year was up.
Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire
This novella looks at what happens to children that come back through portals after their adventures are over. It's clever and quick witted, explores aspects of the portal genre that I hadn't previously considered, pursues what happens when changes wrought in fantasy worlds bump up against the realities of ours, and includes issues around gender, sexuality, and family as a matter of course. Oh, and murder.
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Our protagonist, inspired by a shoebox of her mum's old punk things, decides to try doing something about the sexism rampant in her small town high school. What starts small snowballs into something much larger with its own momentum. Girls being friends and feminists, with a look at different and intersectional ways to be a feminist, and just an all-round excellent read that delivered many YES, THAT and THOSE FEELINGS, RIGHT THERE moments to me as a female reader.
After The Fire by Will Hill
A seventeen-year-old girl – an exceedingly well-written protagonist - relates her upbringing and life in a religious cult to a therapist and an FBI Agent who are trying to work out what happened in the titular fire. Gripping, strong character voices, keeps you guessing until the end, and could be lifted from reality.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
A retelling of the Norse myths with Gaiman flair and fantastic characterisation of the gods.
The Boy on the Bridge by M R Carey
This prequel to the fantastic The Girl With All The Gifts is set two years earlier, mid-outbreak, and follows the crew of the Rosalin Franklin on a scientific research mission around the country. M R Carey excels at stories focussed on characters forced together in a small (physical) space and the plot is excellent, with bonus small connections and contextualisation for the first book.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Thomas' debut novel is the story of Starr, a black teenage girl who is in the car with a friend from her old school when they're pulled over by a white police officer, who shoots her unarmed friend. Thomas puts the reader square in the lives and emotions of the characters as they live through a story that could be lifted directly from the news. The strength of the characterisation and empathy absorbed me from the first page.
Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
A Girl, Interrupted for the next generation that focuses on recovery. No holds barred, peels everything right back to the heart and soul of the characters and their efforts to put their pieces back together. Very well done.
A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong
Armstrong showcases her skills in pacing and building tension in this cracking thriller of a sequel that follows on from the excellent City of the Lost. Not quite as good as the first book, but only by a little, this is edge of your seat storytelling, with mystery, interesting characters and relationships, and a driven plot.
Honourable Fiction mentions: I also really, really enjoyed -
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord – found family!
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sarah Barnard – character with selective mutism and anxiety befriends deaf character; accurate representation and sweet story about gaining agency!
The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater – the characters, the twists, the sass and banter!
Non-fiction: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Wolf, and Hope In The Dark by Rebecca Solnit, which I read at the start of the year and gave me a much needed boost of optimism in the face of politics
Poetry: Plum by Hollie McNish and Undying by Michael Faber, which is beautiful written and gives voice to so many emotions, and yes it made me cry
Fics posted in 2017: I posted five fics last year, all of which were gifts for other people. Good job I had that as an incentive I think. All Marvel fandom; two Clint/Nat and three Clint/Nat/Bucky.
The Bowling Green Massacre joint written with alphaflyer for the Valentine’s Mini Promptathon is a Clint and Natasha mission fic with dollops of politics. It was the first time I’d co-written anything and it was huge fun to do.
both threat and promise, also for the Valentine’s Mini Promptathon, is Clint and Natasha sexy times.
We Can Get Better was written for the franzi and gecko friends exchange. My first Clint/Nat/Bucky fic! Also featuring sexy times. And Kate.
Scary Movie Night is a little Clint/Nat/Bucky Halloween ficlet.
Make Like A Ninja was written for the be_compromised Secret Santa exchange. A Clint/Nat/Bucky fix-it bridge between Secret Empire and Tales of Suspense (AU of 616 comics).
Technically I also finished a spin-off story about musician!Clint’s first meeting with Jess, but I need to finish the main musician!Clint and bodyguard!Natasha story first before I can post that, and the fifth story in the demon!Natasha series, but I need to finish and post the still WIP third and fourth stories first. (I may have made franztastisch despair a little with my out of order writing.)
Life Things in 2017:
> I went to my first march/rally in January, which was a Sister March
> I started a new job in February – same company, different department, up a promotion level and much more interesting
> I turned 30. I used to think there were a certain amount of boxes that needed ticking by this point, but thankfully I was disabused of that notion in advance.
> The group of friends I still have from high school also all turned 30, funnily enough, my Dad turned 60, Gran 80, two cousins 40, and my grandparents had their 60th Wedding Anniversary! I went to a hen doo, two weddings, and I went to the funeral of a friend’s partner.
> And The Thing, - in summer my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily it was treatable – surgery, radiotherapy, and now six-monthly bone infusions and drugs. She’s a lot better these days and it’s looking positive. I was able to work from home a lot to support her and to take on the role of full-time carer for my younger sister, who has Down’s Syndrome. Dad went to all of Mum’s appointments and treatment with her, and between the two of us we split all the house jobs and supporting the set of elderly grandparents who live nextdoor.
We’re a close family, we managed to maintain a sense of humour, and we try to look on the bright side. I now know that I can handle shit like this and juggle the hell out of things, Dad knew basic cooking, but stepped up his game and learnt such valuable lessons as ‘look for the best use-by dates at the supermarket’, and my little sister continues to give the best hugs. It’s not something I wanted to chat about a lot, because the few moments I took a break and wasn’t juggling everything I needed it to be a break, for which my friends were wonderful, letting me have a few rants and then enabling me with fun geek times.
That counts for online friends too – thank you for the fandom chats with me, talking with me about your ideas, prompts, and WIPs, posting new things for me to enjoy, commenting on any of my creative works, and in general being your lovely selves. Sometimes those little things help a big deal *hugs*.
And now it’s 2018! Lots of things to look forward to – starting with a trip to Budapest next week with franztastisch and alphaflyer! What were your 2017 highlights and favourites? Things that you’re looking forward to in 2018?