As we wrap up another crazy year, here are my top five favorites in books, graphic novels, movies, TV, and music.
Top 5 Books
This is super hard for me to narrow down. I read a fair amount and I generally do a bit of research before starting a book, so I know I'm likely to enjoy it. But here are the five that I think everyone else should read, in no particular order.
- Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
I read the first two books in this series this year, and now I have to wait (so long) for the rest to come out. It's hard to say anything about this series without giving too much away, so I'll just say: space necromancers!
- Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell
This is the final book in a trilogy that I love. If you like young adult fantasy series and fanfiction, this series is definitely for you. It started as fake fanfiction within another book by this author, but people enjoyed it so much, she decided to actually write it!
- The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner
A coworker recommended this series as one of her favorites, so I started reading it and it's now one of mine, too. This young adult series takes place in another place where three countries' fates are intertwined. I find it very amusing and the final book came out just recently.
- Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
I am a sucker for meta-content and this made me so happy. While from the outside this may appear a simple spicy romcom, inside it is basically Game of Thrones fanfiction, specifically Brienne/Jamie fanfiction from the Game of Thrones TV show. I love the added layer of depth this lends to the story, as well as the feeling of an inside joke for only those in the know about the show.
- The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
This is a classic, straight-up fantasy, like the books I grew up with. It has political intrigue, a new and interesting magic system, found family, and epic landscapes. The setting and magic system is based in Indian and Hindi mythology and lore. I can't wait for the sequel!
Top 5 Graphic Novels
I love a good graphic novel and I don't think enough people give them a chance. I know a lot of people consider them "low brow," but often comics and graphic novels have higher difficulty words and concepts than a lot of novels.
- Gwenpool by Christ Hastings
You may not have heard of Gwenpool; until recently, I had not. Gwen is a girl from the real world that gets drawn into the world she loves, the world of comics. And as an outsider, having spent a lot of time looking in, she navigates this new reality in much the same way Deadpool can: by taking advantage of the tropes and flow of comic books. A great character for a meta-story and breaking the fourth wall.
- Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu
This graphic novel duology is so unbelievably cute, I just love it. Though it is a story about a young man joining his college's hockey team, it's not really about hockey. It's about life and college and figuring out how to be yourself while baking and playing hockey.
- Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
This is a very sweet graphic novel series about two British boys in school discovering their sexualities. The fourth volume came out just this past December, so I can't wait to read it!
- Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe
This amazing graphic novel started as a web comic, which is where I first found it. It became so popular that it is now in print and in talks to have an animated adaptation. I've always loved Greek mythology and retellings thereof.
- The Sensational She-Hulk by John Byrne
If you're like me, getting into comics is very intimidating. I had no idea where to start, but PandaRedd on TikTok recommended She-Hulk as a fun character and this run by John Byrne as a good place to start. I'm so glad I did! She-Hulk is another character that in this run, is allowed to break the fourth wall and talk to the readers, as well as the writers and artists. Be ready for major 80's vibes. I'm now so very excited for Marvel's DisneyPlus show of She-Hulk (staring Tatiana Maslany from another favorite of mine below) in 2022!
Top 5 Movies
Sitting down and watching movies together is a beloved family pastime, so I really enjoy watching films. I've fallen down the Marvel rabbit hole hard these past years, but that's not all I enjoy.
- Black Widow
So, I am a huge Marvel and MCU fan. I'm trying to read more of the comics, but I love the movies and shows. Black Widow is a character that I have always enjoyed but not necessarily loved. This movie changed that a bit. Actually, I loved most of the characters in this movie, I just wish it had come out when it was set.
- Free Guy
This movie is just fun. So much fun. I love Ryan Reynolds and Taika Waititi, who just go for it. This is not a film that's going to make you think very hard, but it's not quite Michael Bay either. It also features a cover of Mariah Carey's Fantasy, which I enjoy.
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Again, my fangirling for the MCU is showing. I have very strong memories of my dad and I watching Jackie Chan movies back in the day and Shang-Chi felt very much like a good Jackie Chan movie with comic book characters added in. I really enjoyed that.
I wasn't sure about seeing this movie initially. My favorite Disney villain is Maleficent and I hate the live action films they did for her. Cruella is not so important to me, but I still had my doubts. Boy, was I wrong! This movie is so much fun and I love the soundtrack!
- The Suicide Squad
Now, this one isn't Marvel, but it is superheroes. Or, anti-heroes, at least. I have a particular fondness for Harley Quinn and I do think this movie is superior to the previous Suicide Squad (no more Jared Leto Joker, please!). Birds of Prey is still my favorite though.
Top 5 TV Shows
Now, some of my favorite shows are not yet available on DVD, so you may not be able to enjoy them with me for a while, but they are so good I had to include them.
This is a British series based on a book series that is one of my all-time favorites, the Discworld series by Sir Terry Pratchett. The show focuses on one set of characters, those that make up the Watch or the police of that world. They are inept and a bit corrupt but come together when a dragon threatens their city. Lots of fun and very British. It's a great interpretation of the fantasy book world. I'm still working on getting this one into the library, but it can be streamed on AMC+ or BBC America for now.
- Orphan Black
I watched the first couple of seasons of this show as they were coming out, but I fell off for some reason. Now, I'm watching all of the way through with some friends and I still just love this show. It is so deep and dark and twisty, and even though it is a sci-fi show, it never goes to far, it stays to believable.
Again, I am a complete Marvel fanatic, and I particularly love these two characters. I was stoked to hear that they were making a show about them and it did not disappoint. It was sad and touching and funny and just a lovely little piece of the MCU story. As of yet, it is only available on Disney+, but I am sure we will order it when it becomes available!
This might be a controversial pick: I far prefer the British version to the American version. The premise is the same, a young couple inherits a house in the countryside and they decide to DIY it into a bed and breakfast. One of the couple has a near-death experience and finds herself able to see ghosts, several of which inhabit their new house. Shenanigans ensue. I find the British version to have more heart and depth than the American version, but I can't prove it to you, the British version is unavailable in the US except on HBO Max.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This is an older show, but I've only now just finished watching through it. Figures I'd finish it just as it's getting officially marked non-canon. Whatever, they'll never make me let go of Phil Coulson!
Top 5 Songs
These are the songs that were most likely to get stuck in my head at any given moment this year. Not all of it new, but my personal ear worms.
- "Bad Habits" by Ed Sheeran
I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in myself for liking this song so much. I'm not generally an Ed Sheeran fan and I hate this music video, but the song is so darn catchy!
- "Kings & Queens" by Ava Max
I don't know much about Ava Max as an artist, but I caught this song on the radio a couple of times and was hooked. I have enjoyed some of her other music, but this is my favorite.
- "Stand Out" from A Goofy Movie Soundtrack
This is just a classic. Who doesn't love this soundtrack? Or the movie? This is one of those songs that might randomly pop in my head or I put on to help me find a happier mood. I also really enjoy this rock cover done by Jonathan Young.
- "Beggin'" by the Four Seasons
Now, this one is all TikTok's fault. You really can't spend any time on that app without hearing this song, so it is frequently stuck in my head. This is the original version of the song, but you have probably heard Måneskin's very good cover.
- "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran
This is a song that I recently found back. I first discovered it in college as an AMV (if you know, you know) and loved it ever since. It has recently started playing on the radio again, on the oldies stations...