Best of 2014

Looking back, this has been an awesome year for media. Maybe not so much for the rest of us, but the stuff that came out this year was pretty all right. It made me optimistic for the year ahead. While I said goodbye to many beloved series this year, I welcomed a few more. Hopefully we’ll see more awesome stuff in 2015 (and possibly a release of the third Eva movie, but I’m not holding my breath).

Reviews below!

MUSIC

Interpol – El Pintor

Weird, nonsensical, and hooky as hell, Interpol earned a place in my heart years ago. Turn on the Bright Lights holds a place in my top ten favorite albums, and if you haven’t checked it out, you NEED to. El Pintor has those same strange, dreamy lyrics and frenetic energy I love. It was well worth the four year wait.

Standout tracks: “All The Rage Back Home,” “Anywhere,” “Tidal Wave”

Copeland – Ixora

Copeland has fueled my pen more than once. Moody, melancholy, and lovelorn, Copeland is the sort of band you listen to when you’re gazing out a window on a rainy day. Ixora doesn’t disappoint on that front–it’s plenty lovelorn and sad. There may be things I have written already because of it.

Standout tracks: “I Can Make You Feel Young Again,” “Chiromancer,” “In Her Arms You Will Never Starve”

TV On the Radio – Seeds

This band has been on my radar since I heard “Wolf Like Me” on a soundtrack several years back. TVOtR is a band with teeth and claws. Sharp, more than occasionally dark, and full of hooks, Seeds proves they’re still on top of their game.

Standout tracks: “Lazerray,” “Happy Idiot,” “Careful You”

FILM & TV

Afflicted

Don’t punch me for recommending a found footage horror film before you watch it. This one combines more than a few things that will get under your skin with flair. There is definitely a plot at work here, and while it does show through in a few places, it does it in a way that makes you grateful rather than roll your eyes. Check this one out. It’s fun. Gross, but fun.

Hannibal

I could say a lot about season 2. The unraveling that began in season 1 continues in season 2 to horrifying effect. I may have had a meltdown on Twitter over the season finale. It’d been a while since I screamed at my TV. Gold star, Hannibal. I’m definitely locked in for season 3.

Psycho-Pass

While season 1 aired in 2012, I didn’t catch it till this year. I’m usually not big on scifi, but this one hooked me. If you love Phillip K. Dick and dystopian media, you’ll find tons to love here. The current season has yet to disappoint me, and that’s saying a lot, considered I’m old and grizzled by anime standards.

Orphan Black

Speaking of scifi…have you seen this show yet? No? GO WATCH IT. NOW. Smart, self-aware, and fast-paced, this show has one hell of an impressive plot. It doesn’t stop there, though–the characters are fully realized, heartbreaking, and maddening. The interesting part? Most of the cast is played by the same woman. Try to wrap your brain around that while you watch. It’s amazing stuff. I’m in for the long haul with this one.

MANGA & COMICS

This year saw the end of a shojo manga called DAYTIME SHOOTING STAR. It hasn’t hit the States yet, but when it does, it will hurt you in the best possible ways. The love stories are wonderful, and they play out in completely unexpected ways. I love it for the same reason I loved HONEY & CLOVER–its characters are both fantastic and utterly real, and even though it’s in a school setting, the story branches beyond those boundaries.

AKU NO HANA also ended this year, and while some find the content downright repulsive, I’ve blogged elsewhere about why it resonated for me and why I thought it spoke to other people as much as it did. Everyone has a destructive side, and the depths to which AKU NO HANA descends act as a frightening mirror. It makes you question yourself, and that is proof of powerful writing. I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending, but the story left a mark on me I know will last for years to come.

It’s been a while since I’ve read something by Gina Biggs, but I’ve really been enjoying LOVE NOT FOUND. In a futuristic society, touching is taboo and love is unheard of. As you would expect, two people fall for each other anyway. It’s a sweeter take on utopian/dystopian fiction, and one I welcome among the vast array of the darker things I tend to gravitate toward.

BOOKS

I don’t like admitting my fondness for gorgeous covers, but CRUEL BEAUTY‘s enchanted the hell out of me. The writing is just as beautiful, and the story is just as intricate. If you love alchemy, fairy tales, and protagonists with murderous aspirations, you’ll find a lot to love here.

This was a fantastic year for debut books. I wasn’t initially sure I liked THE WINNER’S CURSE, but after six chapters, it had me trapped. With its Hellenic inspirations, a forbidden love story, and a brewing civil war, the one thing this book won’t leave you is bored.

I didn’t want to say goodbye to the Darkling, Alina, and Mal. I don’t think anyone did. RUIN AND RISING is about as close to a perfect close as we could get, though. I didn’t see the twist coming at all, but once I did, it gutted me. It’s rare to come away from a trilogy with complete closure, but Leigh Bardugo manages it deftly. If you’ve been waiting to read this series, do it now.

I am absolutely terrified of anything to do with the Ringu series, but THE GIRL FROM THE WELL kept my attention for two solid days. Following the legend that inspired The Ring, the narrator is the ghost herself–and she faces an even nastier ghost who possesses a boy she comes to like. It’s haunting, sparse, and downright terrifying in places, but a debut well worth your time.


So there’s my list. I’ve recommended and reviewed a ton of stuff this year, so if you’re interested in seeing what else I like, check the tags. I didn’t see as many movies as I would have liked, and I only played two videogames (*stifled groan of sadness since videogames are much-beloved*) but hey, I was hard at work. This year saw me revise the hell out of AMoA, get to 75% with a draft of THE WILD HUNT before razing it to the ground and beginning again, and kick around ideas for a weekly fiction blog. All in all, a very busy year–busier than last year, anyway.

Here’s to 2015 being awesome. Stay tuned for the unveiling of THE VIOLENTLADIES.

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