Unpacking, dev. Witchbeam, available on Nintendo Switch, macOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5
A game about a life told through the act of unpacking it — and about queer joy.
When you play Unpacking, the game is telling you its story without words — well, except for the caption jotted into the photo album at the end of each chapter. Aside from that, the story is told entirely through the player’s actions and… sound. The rustling of the moving boxes and the packing paper, the satisfying clunk of an object being set down on a surface.
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“Well… I think we should resume our ‘mutually beneficial exchange of energy…’ on an exclusive basis.”— Astrid, Something Like Love
From my Pride Reads list 2022, here’s Something Like Love by Christina C. Jones, #6 in the Serendipitous Love series! I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Sean Crisden and Wesleigh Siobhan, which was a great experience.
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I can hardly believe that these words that had sunk deep inside me are surfacing and coming out through my own lips rather than resting heavily all the way to my grave.Mother, Concerning My Daughter
Recently I’ve been very taken with My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-Jin. I’ve talked about the latter elsewhere; it’s definitely not light reading. The mother’s prejudice against her daughter’s homosexuality as a symbol of her rejection of “a good, normal life” as rewarded by Korean culture is difficult to read and really the only thing that made me stick it out was knowing from the get-go — it’s in the blurb, possibly for exactly this reason — that she’s going to grow past it. For some readers, this may be where catharsis lies either because their own parents did or didn’t make it that far.
Either way, I was reminded of a moment in Christina C. Jones’ Something Like Love where (minor spoilers ahead), at a family gathering, Astrid is ready to pick up arms and go toe-to-toe with Eddie’s father. He holds her back and explains that, for his dad, the mildly offensive thing he just said is progress. At several points in the story, I was expecting Green and Lane to pick up and leave, no matter the fact that they’re broke and can’t really afford to go anywhere else. Green would have been justified to disown her mother rather than the other way around, and it’s clear she doesn’t stay for love or hoping that her mother will change. She stays because she has no way out. The fact she doesn’t isn’t a silent condoning of her mother’s words and actions, nor is it the author arguing that children have to remain in abusive relationships with their parents because they are their parents and they owe them.
I don’t want to spoil too much about Concerning My Daughter in this review, but I want to be clear about what it felt like reading it, so that any reader of this review may have a clear idea of its contents. So while I won’t obfuscate, please forgive some occasional vagueness.
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I couldn’t imagine one day where I might be happy, or even sad in an ordinary way. I’d run away, but I couldn’t seem to forget.Dovie, That Green Eyed Girl
That Green Eyed Girl tells two stories: one set in 1955, the other in 1975. The first is the story of two women, Gillian and Dovie, living together under the guise of lodgers. Then, twenty years on and in the same apartment they used to live in, we meet teenaged Ava who has to take care of her mother as her health steadily declines until she is eventually committed to a so-called sanatorium. At first, their lives seem hardly connected. But then, a package appears and, as Ava begins to investigate in the hopes of reuniting sender and recipient, more and more characters emerge who are central to the mystery.
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From my Pride Reads list 2022, here’s Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake, #1 in the Bright Falls series! I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Kristen DiMercurio, which I very much enjoyed.
In this sapphic rom-com featuring a lesbian and a bi woman as MCs and a medium-sized cast of other queer characters as well as a few token straights who are on thin ice (shoutout to Grant for bein’ a solid dude), complicated family histories take centre stage as Delilah Green returns, unwillingly, to her hometown of Bright Falls. (This, by the way, delighted me as I’d only recently completed playing a video game expansion that connects Control to the Bright-Falls-set Alan Wake games. But thankfully there’s no intrusive, horrible Darkness to be found in this story — if you’re not counting bad memories.) Delilah carries a lot of baggage from her childhood — and it’s only now, at her step-sister’s wedding, that she realises she’s not the only one.
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That was the thing about good people. They did the right thing just because it was.— Orfeus, Foxhunt
Orfeus the musician is searching for hope in the heart of danger…
In a lush solarpunk future, plants have stripped most of the poison from the air and bounty hunters keep resource hoarders in check. Orfeus only wants to be a travelling singer, famed and adored. She has her share of secrets, but she’s no energy criminal, so why does a bounty hunter want her dead? Not just any bounty hunter but the Wolf, most fearsome of all the Order of the Vengeful Wild. Orfeus will call in every favor she has to find out, seeking answers while clinging to her pride and fending off the hunters of the Wild. But she isn’t the only one at risk: every misstep endangers the enemies she turns into allies, and the allies she brings into danger. There are worse monsters than the Wolf hiding in this new green world.
Quick review: Foxhunt is an incredibly enjoyable, fast-paced romp at the same time as it is a story that delves deep into the heart of its protagonist. That heart yearns even as it steels itself, and the yearning slow burn of the romance is delicious. It’s a bright look at the future, with smart worldbuilding; for me a wonderful introduction to the genre of solarpunk.
Continue reading “FOXHUNT — Rem Wigmore”
Feeling is always worth it.— Danika Brown; Take A Hint, Dani Brown
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits… When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues her from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zafir are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae — and Zaf is begging Dani to play along.
Quick review: If you love diverse, incredibly sexy romance, if you love bisexual protagonists, if you love friends-to-lovers stories with lots of pining even as they are together, then this is a novel for you. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll probably make you cry, and you will not regret picking it up. I cannot recommend it enough, and I’ll keep yelling about it.
Continue reading “TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN — Talia Hibbert”
A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.— Meryl Wilsner, Something To Talk About
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time – threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie. As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.
Don’t go into Something To Talk About expecting any fake dating or there was only one bed tropes. STTA is, at its core, slow burn, with all that that entails: miscommunication (or outright failure to communicate) and misunderstandings, 10 Reasons Why We Cannot Be Together, and pining. So much pining.
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“Self-Analysis: Darcy Phillips— Sophie Gonzales, Perfect on Paper
Is not set in stone.”
This is the (mostly) spoiler-free review of this novel. If you’re also interested in a transcript of my reading journal discussing internalised biphobia and bi erasure, you can find it on my Patreon.
Darcy Phillips has a secret. It’s not that she’s smart, kind, stubborn, generous, impulsive, or occasionally jealous.
Her secret… is Locker 89.
A prestigious private school’s favourite agony aunt, scholarship student and teacher’s daughter Darcy has her work cut out for her. She’s the genius behind the infamous dating and relationship service dispensed through a layer of secrecy and anonymity that’s becoming increasingly thin when none other than the annoyingly handsome Alexander Brougham discovers her identity. It sets in motion a cascade of events that will shake up St. Deodetus’s foundations. Or, at the very least, the lives of a bunch of lovable youngsters trying to find their place in the world.
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“Even if she’s upset with you now, if you do right by her, she will forgive you.”— Melissa Bashardoust, Girl, Serpent, Thorn
This is the spoiler-free review of this novel. If you’d like to read my full reading journal, you can check it over on my Ko-fi.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a magic, fantastic story about legends and the way they are told: we are, and we aren’t, and what we do with out gifts/curses is up to us. Those who loves us will seek to protect us, and sometimes our choices will lead us astray. But if we do right by each other, love and forgiveness are our reward.
Continue reading “GIRL, SERPENT, THORN — Melissa Bashardoust”