2019 Favorite Things in Books, Movies, TV, Podcasts, and Comics

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Books

I sorted my 2019 Books by Fiction (F) & Non-Fiction (NF). Bolded titles are my favorites of the year. You can follow along with my reading and recommendations on GoodReads. I’m usually talking about them on Twitter and Instagram when I’m not talking about cats and how ignorant the government is.

Another Man’s Treasure SW Hubbard F book Loved it and look forward to more in the series about an estate sales businesswoman stumbling into mysteries
The Supernormals Sleuthing Society Gwenda Bond, Christopher Rowe F book
Loved the creative ways the authors re-invented magical beings and rules for this pocket world inside the mundane world.
The Murder List Hank Phillipi Ryan F book loved it, 5 stars, full review
Wanderers Chuck Wendig F book loved it, but could scrap some parts – 4.5 stars, full review
Bethlehem Karen Kelly F book loved it, full review
The Skeletons of Scarborough House Kitty French F book funny with a great mystery
The Long Call Ann Cleeves F book full review
Diary of a Murderer Youngha Kim F book full review
The Warehouse Rob Hart F book full review
Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens F book heartwrenching
Lost Hills Lee Goldberg F book crime fiction
Witchwood Park S.W. Develin F book middle grade magical book about finding the good in people through their differences
A Darker Shade Laura K. Curtis F book full review plus podcast with the author
Curvy Yoga Anna Guest-Jelley NF book didn’t learn too much from it from a science perspective, but it was a delightful and validating read; the practical tips were helpful.
Journey into Yin Yoga Travis Eliot NF book one of my favorite yoga books
The Art of Jin Shin Alexis Brink NF book full review
Embrace Your Weird Felicia Day NF book full review
Yoga for Depression & Anxiety Amy Weintraub NF book noticed some issues with unrespectable sources like Dr. Oz, but otherwise scientifically sound
The Body Keeps Score Bessel van der Kolk NF book non-fiction science
Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga Emerson and Hopper NF book non-fiction science; practical and easier to read that The Body Keeps Score (sort of like an abridged version of it)
The Warrior Within John Little NF book Bruce Lee biography
Tantra Illuminated Christopher Wallis NF book non-fiction; history and philosophy
The Do or Do Not Outlook That Yoda Guy Nick Maley NF book full review
Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World Michelle Cassandra Johnson NF book
quick read about how Yoga as a belief system and robust philosophies means that you cannot possible ignore the call for social justice
Every Body Yoga Jessamyn Stanley NF book
I would have appreciated more about adapting yoga postures for different sizes. It was says repeatedly that this would be shown, but there were only two props ever shown: a strap and blocks. Anna Guest-Jelley’s book on Curvy Yoga did a better job at this. However, this book also serves as Jessamyn Stanley’s memoir which is interesting on its own merit. Learning about her family and how close they were made it feel visceral. The grief from deaths was palpable. Her partying days were so relatable.

Favorite Comics of 2019

Sorted by Publisher. Bolded titles are my favorites of the year. Sorry for the terrible table formatting. I cut & paste from Docs. I don’t seem to have Crowded on this list which makes me wonder if that over before 2019. Nonetheless, I know new issues are slowly coming out. I may have missed them, but it’s on my Tops/Faves for sure.

Black Betty
Shawn Gabborin (w), Raphael Dantes (a), Rosa Rantila (color)
comic Action Lab I read issue 7 because of the press release, I’ll be honest. There’s a young boy who is deaf and Black Betty (she’s not a WoC, just large and with black hair) and another woman are fighting over this boy Noah. I think this series spun out of other Danger Zone titles, Vamp Blade and Zombie Trap which I have done my best to ignore based on how they look. Those appear so incredibly misogynistic with the oversized breats covered by barely anything, skinny waists, and then conveniently thick thighs. Yet, Black Betty is full clothed in every press release. I’m guessing because she’s fat. And when I say “fat” I mean “my” size; but at least she’s in jeans, a blouse, and a rockabilly style while wielding weapons to conquer monsters. **Though this completely depends on the artist!** In past issues, she did not look like this. Back when issue one came out, it was all torn off clothes with bra and underwear showing and attention on her zaftig T&A – but she wasn’t fat then either. So as far as judging this series, it’s gone through different artists and a lot of cover artist variants. Just like with Valiant’s Faith Herbert, it’s glaringly obvious when artists are stuck in a particular body shape and adding ten pounds is the most they can manage to do.
Cash + Carrie v2
Shawn Pryor, Giuli Speziani, Marcus Kwame Anderson, Tressina Bowling, Justin Birch & more
comic Action Lab summer camp story in chapters with a fun yearbook section at the back.
Euthanauts Tini Howard, Nick Robles comic Black Crown Extremely confusing with stunning art
Snap, Flash, Hustle Pat Shand, Emily Pearson comic Black Mask cam girl accidentally ends up in a seriously dangerous criminal situation; it’s a great new perspective on cam girls and escorts that’s not exploitative or gratituous at all. The book is dominated by female characters with agency.
Black AF Devil’s Dye
Kwanza Osajyefo, Vita Ayala, Liana Kangas, Maika Sozo (covers), Dave Sharpe
comic Black Mask a good take on drug crime, black on black violence, and superpowers
Lab Raider Miner, Lee, Jensen, Krotzer comic Black Mask good science fiction about radical animal rights extremists breaking into labs to rescue animals but end up finding some hybrids from a company’s experiment.
Road of Bones Rich Douek, Alex Cormack, Justin Birch comic IDW 3 men escape a Russian gulag. Roman, the only one with hope and faith butts heads with Grigori. Sergei doesn’t want to eat Roman’s body when he dies in the tundra and they have no food to survive.
Enemy of the People Rob Rogers comic IDW political cartoons of famed artist Rob Rogers; loved but had to put it down several times because of the anxiety it produced.
The Addams Family one shot
Zoe Quinn, Philip Murphy, Maria Keane (co-ink), (c) Valentina Pinto, (lett & design) Christa Miesner
comic IDW
like the movie, Wednesday is bored with the Addams way of life and seeks something even more horrifying; she finds an old tween mag of horrible advice for girls; Morticia is truly worried and finally gives her the Frump Grimoire.
Bitter Root
Created by: David Walker, Chuck Brown, Sanford Green. Rico Renzi & Sanford Green (colors), Clayton Cowles (letter & production), Green & Jarreau Wimberly (cover), Heather Antos (ed)
comic Image afro-futurism at its finest; the Sangyere family fighting monsters with time breaks jumping from present to past to show how racism and hatred have actually turned people into Jinoo. There are other types monsters the family has to learn to fight. Also the back matter contains great articles by historians.
Man-Eaters
Chelsea Cain (w), Kate Niemczyk (a), Rachelle Rosenberg (c), Joe Caramagna (let), Lia Miternique (creative prod), Stella Greenvoss (additional int art), Kyle Scanlon (additional int art), Eliza Fantastic Mohan (short story), Katie Lane (swagger)
comic image An absolute must-read; Twelve-year-old girls fight the patriarchy. Because someone has to. ** Caveat here — Chelsea Cain has made some extremely bad decisions with how she interacts with fans including taking a reader’s tweets and having them put in the book (unsourced) as posters in the background of a scene. She seems to want to listen to the desire for readers to see transgender characters included, but when she sought out a sensitivity reader, she said she couldn’t pay. Now this is comics — and creator-owned comics so there honestly is not money to be made here, but she could have come through another way (maybe even crowdsourcing). Not everyone in creator-owned can have the fame and fortune of the DeConnick/Fractions or Palmiotti/Conners. They’re likely using money from other sources to cover their indie comics. I still love the premise of Man-Eaters and wish Cain had made wiser choices.
Blackbird v1
Sam Humphries (w), Jen Bartel (a), Paul Weinwand (layout), Triona Farrell (c), Jodi Wynne (let), Todd Dylan (designer), (ed) Jim Gibbons
comic Image magical cabals are real; everything Nina has been told is a lie. Sister Marissa and Mom Gloria are paragons and not dead. She’s technically dead too.
Elsewhere v2
Jay Faerber (w), Sumeyye Kesgin (a), Ron Riley (color), Thomas Mauer (lett/des), Deanna Phelps (production artist), Frank Pittarese (ed)
comic Image quick read of Amelia Earhart and DB Ccoper’s journey through an alien land. They make a home with the natives but eventually return to the US in 2018 and find adjusting to the future in a military lab to be too much.
Beautiful Canvas
Ryan Lindsay, Sami Kivela, Triona Farrell (c), Ryan Ferrier (L), Dan Hill (ed)
comic Image really bizarre on 12 Monkeys level. Ultimately about someone so ridiculously rich, she has turned the world into a reality show of hitmen assassinating kids with superpowers (that she somehow created). She considers this the finest art. Lon is one of these assassins and with her girlfriend Asia tries to stop the chaos.
Die vol 1
Kieren Gillen (w), Stephanie Hans (a), Clayton Cowles (L), Rian Hughes (designer), Chrissy Williams (ed)
comic Image A horrifying fantasy where teens playing a tabletop RPG end up in that world lost for 2 years; when most of them are able to return to real life, their trauma is unbearable, weighed down by their one friend Solomon who was left behind. Them Sol’s D20 shows up covered in blood. Now much older, the group returns into the game somewhat by accident, but discover Sol is still there and the new Grandmaster.
Cold Spots Cullen Bunn, Mark Torres comic Image I know I read it, but apparently it didn’t leave enough of a mark for me to remember.
Vindication 1
Matt Hawkins, MD Marie, Carlos Miko (P), Dema Jr (inks), Thiago Goncalves (color), Troy Peteri (L)
comic Image seems like an excellent plot, but the dialog is so wordy that the letterer deserves an award
Bitter Root: Red Summer anthology
Walker, Brown, Greene, Cowles comic Image Ryan Coogler has been announced to lead an adaptation of Bitter Root
Courtney Crumrin Ted Naifeh, Warren Wucinich (color) comic Oni Press this was volume 3 about the Twilight King so I was a little lost regarding whatever the “bad thing” was that Courtney did to someone named Hector; but as for the plot of Courtney having to go to a new school with other witch kids and then trying to help a classmate undo a curse he put on his brother, that was fabulous. The Twilight King had a great design. He was commanding and sometimes scary. He wanted girls to be his daughters to replace the ones he lost. This underworld kingdom is all that’s left for the nightlings because humans have destroyed so much of the earth.
Squarriors Ashley Witter, Ash Maczko comic Source Point Press LOVE; this book is right up my alley and if you read our cat detective stories you’ll understand why.
Breakneck
(W) Duane Swierczynski (A) Raffaele Semeraro (A/CA) Simone Guglielmini; Colorists: Chris Chuckry Lovern Kindzierski
comic Titan
R rated, end of the world, ticking clock in Philly, with secret agents and a bored married couple. written in 2nd POV. gorgeous
Bloodshot Rising Spirit 3
writer Kevin Grevioux, breakdowns Ken Lashley, finishes Oliver Borges and Ryan Winn, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, letters Simon Bowland
comic Valiant excellent choice to read as a single issue to get a basis for who the Bloodshot character is.
Livewire Vita Ayala, Patricia Martin, Raul Allen, Adam Pollina, Harvey Tolibao, Doug Braithwaite comic Valiant love it #1-4
Doctor Mirage 
Mags Visaggio, Nick Robles, Jordie Bellaire, Dave Sharpe
comic Valiant I used to read this title a long time ago then dropped it. When the creators changed, it seemed like a good point to come back and I was not disappointed. It’s a bit more trippy than I expected, but the art has a spectacular way of taking you on that weird ride through other realms.
The Forgotten Queen
Tini Howard, Amilgar Pinna, Ulises Arreola, Jeff Powell
comic Valiant great story but the women equally as large breasted as video game characters like Lara Croft. It would be different if the women were uniquely shaped then one giant rack would look like diverse bodies. Vexana is called a witch. Lore says witches like water because of the smell of rot and how their magic smooths. Vexana is the war-monger, aka Tibûtu from the Gobi desert who incites bloodlust. She is rejected by a warrior princess of Genghis Khan, (then meets her descendant Tümelün, granddaughter of Khutulun). Then she hooks up with Vlad the Impaler. Her real enemies are a group of heroes called Unity led by her brother the Eternal Warrior Gilad. Born in Ur 3500 BCE. Brothers Ivar, Aram, Gilad of Anni-Padda clan; She’s also Armstrong’s sister.
Forgotten Home
Erica Schultz, Marika Cresta, Matt Emmons (c), Cardinal Rae (lett), cover Natasha Alterici, royal garments by Yissel Ayala
comic Vices Press
A deputy and her daughter of magical Jannadan heritage get involved in the cases of missing children when daughter Joanna and her best friend Mika are confronted by Queen Rani’s troops

TV Shows — Fictional and True Crime/Documentaries

We’re waiting for The Orville to return. The show took an extended break, but it’s been one of the best on TV. That’s one for Honorable Mention. I feel like there might have been a new season of Bosch too, but I forgot to add it to the list. Also, Grace & Frankie, Single Parents, Superstore! Jeez, I need to be better about keeping this spreadsheet, but I watch a damn lot of TV, y’all. Those are all on my “must” list.

Abby’s Natalie Morales TV canceled after S1; not a terrible sitcom but not something the cling to.
Absentia s2 Stana Katic TV Amazon amazing and better than S1
Aphrodite Jones Aphrodite Jones tv ID Go true crime
Batwoman Ruby Rose TV she’s not the best actor to start, but there’s a noticeable evolution of her betting more into the character each week (especially by the Crisis crossover); it’s solid and close enough to the first volume of the rebooted comic to make fans satisfied. The cast is more diverse and the Rachel Maddow VO cameo as the news anchor Vesper Fairchild is brilliant.
Bob’s burgers TV Hulu Somehow this show always delivers.
Brooklyn 99 Andy Samberg, Andre Brauer, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Stephanie Beatriz, Chelsea Peretti TV Hulu I literally put this on every night to go to sleep. I can’t believe Chelsea Peretti left the show!
Case Histories Jason Isaacs TV BBC good crime plots but his character is unlikeable
Corner Gas Brent Butt TV Amazon enjoyable sitcom from Canada about a simple small town
Deadline: Crime Tamron Hall Tv ID Go true crime
Forensic Files tv Netflix true crime with dramatization
Good Omens Michael Sheen, David Tennant TV Amazon I liked it and found the main characters adorable in their companionship.
Handmaid’s Tale Elizabeth Moss TV Hulu Still brilliant but I’m not finished with the latest season yet.
Harrow starring that guy whose name I can’t pronounce Tv Amazon Ioan Gruffudd fantastic, compelling, episodic mysteries with a season long mystery arc
Homecoming Julia Roberts TV Amazon I liked S1 and have to watch S2
Homicide Hunter Lt. Joe Kenda tv Hulu true crime with dramatization
Jack Ryan John Krasinski tv Amazon
I preferred the first season. S2 was still solid but felt slower/quieter during most of the episodes. Good content though about election interfere in other countries.
Lore Aaron Mahnke TV I know I watched it, but I don’t remember anything except the surprising cameos.
Lucifer Tom Ellis, Lauren German TV Netflix hate the character Eve who dominates as the bad influence this season; interested in the Vatican plot
Mindhunter s2 Holt McCallany, Jonathan Groff TV Netflix
They finally got the younger MC (Ford) out of his weird fetish obsession and the older MC (Tench) goes through an upheaval in his family life.
Prodigal Son Michael Sheen, Bellamy Young, Lou Diamond Phillips, Halston Sage TV Hulu first episode is unbelievably terrible; I waited weeks until I could steel myself to try again and I’m glad I did because it got substantially better; tbh, Tom Payne tries hard to make the character Malcolm Bright work, but it’s beyond over the top. With that in mind, if you can accept it as fodder, it’s fun (but gorey) entertainment. Halston Sage as the younger sister to Bright comes into her own over time.
Silent Witness Emilia Fox, William Gaminara, Tom Ward TV
Strangely, I liked it when the series booted the first main character; but then they changed again and I didn’t like the third “life” of it as much.
Star Trek Discovery Sonequa Martin-Green tv CBS loved S1 and just started S2; it feels a bit disjointed with the constantly changing captains though.
Supergirl Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath TV
I miss Mon-El, but Brainy is still a solid character going through his own development; Kara & Lena’s complications made me sad and annoyed that they’re making Lena just another Luther nemesis. However, I will say Jon Cryer is now my favorite Lex Luther (not counting Mansugar).
The Good Doctor Freddie Highmore TV still watching but not that invested in it
The Good Place Kristen Bell, Ted Danson TV Netflix wait for Netflix, one of my favorites to marathon
The Keepers tv Netflix true crime about the sexual abuse and murder connected to the Catholic school in Baltimore and that diocese
The Passage Paul-Mark Gosselaar, Saniyya Sidney Tv Hulu annoyed that this was canceled; it had an excellent launch
The Rookie Nathan Fillion TV surprisingly good; diverse cast
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ellie Kemper TV Netflix ended the series rather nicely with happy or bizarre endings for everyone
V-Wars based on Jonathan Maberry’s work; Ian Somerhalder, Adrian Holmes tv Netflix
OMG so good! My only wish was that they had spent more time in the discovery of the vampire virus in the ice; they bolt into the action immediately and by episode 2 shit has hit the fan with “Bloods” among the humans; PS – don’t get attached to the characters because they may die.

 

the Rookie gif

Movies either in the theater or at home:

The Addams Family (animated)
movie
Really enjoyed the animated style and the voice acting; the Uncle Fester romance at the end made zero sense though.
Law Abiding Citizen Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler movie This is on my list and I barely remember watching it.
Secret Life of Pets 2 movie I liked the big old dog voiced by Harrison Ford, but ultimately the first movie was much better.
Into the Spiderverse movie
the story was great; music was great; the rapidly swirling graphics could give one a headache if they’re prone to it.
SW Rise of Skywalker Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver movie loved it more than the rest of the fans apparently

 

I went into a short discussion on Twitter about why I am still #ReyLo stanning. Here’s a much longer version:

When it comes to romance mixed in the action genre, I looked to examples like Romancing the Stone / Jewel of the Nile or Indiana Jones or Die Hard. The romances are not the main plot and the same holds for the recent trilogy of Star Wars starring Rey and Ben/Kylo Ren.

Typical formula is: Girl meets Bad Boy™. Bad Boy annoys/abuses/interferes with Girl’s plans. They have chemistry (if you have great actors unlike the Anakin/Padme coupling which was awful). Bad Boy wants to redeem himself and win Girl’s heart and approval. There are ups and downs. Girl considers being a Bad Girl™. Bad Boy is (temporarily) redeemed and learns to be Good only to have a fuck up between movies and there’s a break up off-screen where they either find their way back to each other or not.

SKYWALKER SPOILERS DIATRIBE

First, a lot people missed the entire plot point that the mind-connection between Kylo Ren and Rey was created by Emperor Snoke. Then when Palpatine returned, there was even more justified confusion. Kylo’s orders went from “kill the girl” to “turn the girl to the dark side” to “kill the girl” and so on an so on. Neither emperor seemed committed to their own mission. Nonetheless, Kylo Ren was not infiltrating Rey’s mind because he just felt like violating her brain space.

Secondly, as per the formula noted above, Kylo’s entire character arc was about his personal struggle whether to follow in his parents’ footsteps or in his grandfather’s footsteps. He was clearly being pulled around between the dark and light sides.

Oh but he KILLED his father, you yell at me through Twitter. Well, my dudes, Harrison Ford really didn’t want to be in these and kept saying that he was doing it for the money. He wanted out back in the days of Return of the Jedi, remember? But okay, Kylo eventually let the devil on his shoulder, Snoke, win and he killed Han Solo for which he grieved. He had a much softer spot in his heart for his mother, General Leia. And you can see why he’d be furious with Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. You’d be pissed off too.

Knowing Rey was looking up to Luke and sought to train with him, Kylo was then looking out for her and had his justified feelings to back him up. That whole you never know if Luke Skywalker is going to kill you thing was in his head.

Rey and Kylo defeat Snoke together and it was a magnificent moment. Even the haters should admit that was a mindblowing scene.

Did Rey need to be a Palpatine? I don’t know. I guess not. It didn’t serve any purpose except to explain why her powers were as strong as the strongest Jedi out there like the Skywalkers. However — because of her final moment on the screen where she declares that she is taking the family name Skywalker, that’s freaking important! One thing I often say — as a person with estranged family and as someone who has changed her name so much I’m probably on a special CIA list — family of choice and how you’d like to be known is IMPORTANT to one’s character and agency. Rey declared she was a Skywalker. She had basically been adopted by them anyway. Therefore Rey is a Skywalker. That’s her agency in play right there.

So, Ben and Rey wanted to be together. Neither would budge. They tried to force each other in the most dysfunctional ways possible. In the end, Ben came through and it was love that healed him (just like in every damn fairy tale ever).

kylo ren

Podcasts

Unobscured season 1 Salem Witch trials; Aaron Manhke podcast Salem Witch Trials; great interviews spliced into the narration with a ton of research.
The Cat Explorers podcast Hasara and Daniel Lay podcast Great community that supports each other through Instagram and meetups.
My Favorite Murder Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff podcast Always a weird, wild ride. Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.
Redefining Yoga Lara Heimann podcast great episodes on anatomy
Murder Book Michael Connelly podcast in-depth journey through one particular arrest, trial, and appeal

 

single parents gif

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