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43 minutes | Nov 28, 2022
Kid Lit's Profound Gloom
This week, Sarah and Amelia are back after faking their own deaths and disappearing to the desert (didn't work), and it's a bit of a grab bag. Sarah discusses her difficulty with reading lately (yeah, another one of those episodes) and how she's powered through it by taking things from small children. Amelia engages in combat with a 56 hour audio book and reads a sentence that made her therapist wince. We also establish that Clive Barker, at time of posting, is alive. That's it's own little journey.Media discussed:The Stormlight Archives series by Brandon SandersonWhen You Know What I Know by Sonja K. SolterAbarat by Clive BarkerHow to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times by Roy Peter Clark
67 minutes | Sep 27, 2022
Play Me Off With The Death Kazoo
This week, Sarah and Amelia get deep. About six feet or so. In an episode that totally isn't a disaster of conflicting tones, we discuss the book Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them) , a very good book that both of us recommend but neither of us necessarily enjoyed. Sarah shares too many work anecdotes that all involve how bad she is with corpses. Amelia revels the least surprising fact about what she wants done with her body after death. We both say a bunch of really correct facts about decomposition. Guys, you GOTTA watch out for the corpse goo. Media discussed:Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying, by Sallie Tisdale...Disco Elysium but just a little bit I promise
58 minutes | Sep 13, 2022
All Victorians Were Stinky Little Freaks
This week, Sarah and Amelia meet at different ends of the sleepiness spectrum to discuss the fantastic worldbuilding and historical resource that is The Victorian City by Judith Flanders. We talk about sewage seepage, watercress sellers, the infernal din of the city, and a couple of kinky Victorians who left detailed diaries behind. Amelia picks a fight with Victorian street sellers and accurately remembers all the members of the British royal family. Sarah has traumatic flashbacks to reading Bleak House and immediately forgets basic facts from her history degree. We both are very tasteful and respectful and not at all ghoulish about Queen Elizabeth's death. Media discussed: The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London by Judith Flanders "Stuff vs Theory" by Judith Flanders "Class and Gender in Victorian England: The Diaries of Arthur J. Munby and Hannah Cullwick" by Leonore Davidoff, originally published in Feminist Studies: Spring, 1979, Vol. 5, Issue 1.
58 minutes | Aug 24, 2022
Ned Stark's Book Five Plotline Really Slapped
This week, we're talking political marriages! Icy locales! Disco Elysium! Magical political intrigue! Fictional soccer coaches! Mirror travel! And of course, more Disco Elysium! Technically this episode is about A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos, but as usual, we get a bit off topic. We discuss our thoughts on YA vs adult fiction, intellectual elitism, whether or not Disco Elysium is the great masterpiece of our age, and our grim predictions for season three of Ted Lasso. Also, our deepest apologies for managing to mess up some aspect of the author's name in literally every instance we cite it.
47 minutes | Aug 9, 2022
We Are Both Doing Equally Well With Our Goals, Thanks
This week on Cracked Spines, we are revisiting all our big dreams we had in January and inadvertently have the exact same conversations as we did then. Amelia is riding high on her book list. Sarah is forcibly humbled. And I'll be honest, then we talk about Trent Crimm from Ted Lasso for about ten minutes. No, we don't provided context on who that man is. You just need to know that he's definitely definitely exactly what the two of us have imagined him to be.
48 minutes | Jul 19, 2022
Dense Little Weirdos: Short Story Collections
This week, Amelia and Sarah are talking about short story collections by a single author that bodied us and kicked us while we were down. In a good way! We discuss three books that are strong contenders for our faves of the year, while every plane in the PNW circles overhead. I know you can't hear the planes that much in this final version. That's because I'm a hero and I have sheltered your ears with the feeble powers of Audacity. Amelia encounters a horror story that genuinely chills her frozen heart. Sarah gushes about Gwen Kirby's work so effusively that in editing, we had to cut a lot of it out because it was just incoherent love. Scurvy meows pitifully and we make fun of her. You know. The usual. Media discussed: Shit Cassandra Saw by Gwen E. KirbyEveryone on the Moon is Essential Personnel by Julian K. JarboeCursed Bunny by Bora Chung, trans. by Anton Hur
61 minutes | Jul 5, 2022
Avada Kedavyaknowwhat, we're not doing this
If you love something, let it go: or at least maybe stop giving it your money and putting it in your tumblr blog description. This episode, Sarah discusses two of her favorite childhood series--Ender's Game and Harry Potter--and the frustration of still liking a piece of media when the creator is an active sewage volcano. Is is possible to separate the creator from their creation, and is that a task we should even try to undertake? Also Amelia is there, sitting pretty on the fact that they never really got into Harry Potter as a kid and are really just above the whole thing. (She got out of World of Warcraft early, that's why she gets to be smug.) Media discussed: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card The Scholomance series by Naomi Novik The Cater Street Hangman Anne Perry Spoilers for all the above, and also Buffy the Vampire Slayer but also come on it's been ten years now, ya'll.
85 minutes | Jun 21, 2022
The Super Duper Ultra Stuffed Lesbian Romance Rant (for Pride!)
WHEW WE HAD A LOT TO SAY. This week, we're discussing lesbian romance novels and, unfortunately, why we just don't like a lot of the ones we've read. Amelia discusses gender exploration and lesbian relationships with gay men. Sarah laments the lack of butches and why Regency era women should be allowed to do rampant infidelity. We both spend a long, long time trying to figure out why the sex is so boring. Afterwards when Sarah was editing the episode, Amelia asked her to try to make us not sound like evil dark sex perverts. This feat that proved to be absolutely impossible. Media discussed: Olivia Waite's Feminine Pursuits series which includes The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows The Hellion's Waltz The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley A Proper English by KJ Charles The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky ChambersGideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir The Unspoken Name by A.K. LarkwoodThe Thousand Names by Django Wexler A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole* (non-ff media)Think of England by KJ CharlesThe Simple Art of Fortune Hunting by KJ CharlesAny Old Diamonds by KJ Charles*Note from Sarah: I mentioned at the beginning of this episode that I read this book, and then proceeded to say nothing about it. Since I spoke pretty disparagingly of contemporary lesbian romance in this, I wanted to clarify that while I still didn't connect with the central romance of this book, I enjoyed reading the story overall and would recommend it to people looking for a modern twist on a princess-bodyguard story starring two Black woman, a fictional country, a critique of the idea of monarchy while still enjoying some of the trappings, and a fun cast of main and side characters.
50 minutes | Jun 8, 2022
Mary Oliver and Owen Wilson: Gay Poetry For Dummies
That's right, we're back on poetry again! We finished the Odyssey and, hungry for more punishment, dove into Mary Oliver's work. Amelia humorously mistakes two vastly different modern poets; Sarah humorously botches an 20th century poet's name (wow). We discuss religion, medicine, nature, DOGS, cats, prose, and more religion. Media DiscussedMary Oliver: Dog Songs, Evidence, "The Summer Day," "Wild Geese"Billy Collins: "Sonnet," "Introduction to Poetry"John Milton: "On His Blindness"E. E. Cumings: "anyone lived in a pretty how town" Claudia Emerson: "Frame, An Epistle"
52 minutes | May 25, 2022
Death to the Living, Rights to the Sperm Whales
This week, we're discussing In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick, the real life story of the shipwreck that inspired Moby Dick, a book we PROMISE that at SOME POINT we will read. Amelia gushes with frankly alarming intensity about how metal whaling culture and Nantucket Quakers were. Sarah offers some Monday morning quarterbacking about nautical survival techniques. We both feel extremely sad about people, whales, and Galapagos turtles while our cat in the background tries to destroy our recording area. Sorry about some of the audio and flow on this one. Everything I cut out in editing was our wild, frenzied cat attempting to eat the microphone. Media discussed:In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel PhilbrickIn the Heart of the Sea, the movie neither of us watched but nevertheless discuss a weird amountMoby Dick, by Hermann Melville, the book neither of us read but WE'RE GONNA SOMEDAY WE PROMISE
47 minutes | May 10, 2022
Hey Wait A Sec, Did The Trojan War Suck?
This week on Cracked Spines your hosts read a whole slew of words centering around the Trojan War, from The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller to Homer's Illiad, Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. From across the millennia, one single sentiment rings true: Agamemnon is the wooooooooooooooorst. In other news, Sarah had a great time reading the Illiad and doesn't complain about it at all, Achilles is the original jock, and some (war) crimes can never be forgiven, but like, really though, we're not going to. Content warning for discussions of slavery and sexual abuse.
58 minutes | Apr 25, 2022
Odyssey Hot Takes: Ten Years Seems Like A Bit Much
We read The Odyssey! We actually did it!! And we only whined a little for weeks on end. Amelia lets her love of milfs fatally blind her to the will of the gods. Sarah overestimates how much Odysseus is naked and murdering people but maintains that just doing it once is enough to make it His Thing. Discussion points include: is this book good? Do we like Odysseus as a character and as a person? Is free will even a thing in this world of gods? And how can Sarah make all of this about her favorite poem from high school? Media Discussed:The Odyssey, by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson The Terror (tv show) Ulysses, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (read it here)The Song of Achilles, by Madeleine MillerCirce, by Madeleine Miller
57 minutes | Apr 12, 2022
Black Bonnets and Tortured Bystanders
Our Flag Means Death is a win for gays and dads alike. In this episode we tackle the big questions, like "Why did this delightful little pirate show became so popular so fast," and "Isn't it okay to torture your hostages just a little, as long as it's funny?" Also featuring the joys of good representation, the horrors of the British Navy, the complicated nature of exploring piracy in fiction, and most importantly, Rhys Darby's calves. Media discussed this episode: Our Flag Means Death (2022-2028, SIX SEASONS AND A MOVIE) Black Sails (2014-2017) Island of the Lost by Joan Druett Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas by Laura Sook Duncombe She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea by Joan Druett
43 minutes | Mar 29, 2022
Coming Full Circe
This week, we're discussing Circe by Madeleine Miller and Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman. Sarah gets mad about how she stopped being mad about the treatment of women. Amelia discusses the shackles of gender and commits a minor act of arson against Sarah's most prized possession (again). We got a little depressed in the middle there, not gonna lie, but I think the discussion was interesting. This episode description is the one thing keeping us from watching the final episodes of Our Flag Means Death. Media discussed: Circe, by Madeleine MillerThe Odyssey, by HomerWomen and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology, by Jess Zimmerman The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism, by Kristen Donbek
55 minutes | Mar 14, 2022
Such A Good Anthology, And The Soundtrack To Hell
This week, your hosts read Far Out: An Anthology of Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Paula Guran, aka an absolutely kickass collection of speculative short stories ranging from a cat-loving AI to gut-wrenching horror. Both Amelia and Sarah agree that this is one of the best anthologies they've encountered, with an effective theme and a wide selection of engaging and imaginative stories. Also, Amelia brushes the fringe of a deep musical conspiracy involving a "hellish" pop song played in H&M which was at the center of multiple murders and an apocalypse cult, probably, according to her lack of evidence and the general vibes. Sarah liked the beat. Stories discussed: Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer The Deepwater Bride by Tamsyn Muir I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno by Vylar Kaftan Das Steingeschöpf by G. V. Anderson The Shape of My Name by Nino Cipri Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue by Charlie Jane Anders Né łe! by Darcie Little Badger Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar Calved by Sam J. Miller The Lily and the Horn by Catherynne M. Valente The Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner CONTENT WARNING: This episode briefly discusses a horror story involving the forcible detransition of a trans woman (timestamp 37:15 - 39:00).
49 minutes | Mar 1, 2022
Of Mist, and Grass, and Snake, Oh God Wait There's a Snake??
This week, Amelia and Sarah discuss fantastical healthcare in Vonda McIntyre's Dreamsnake under the pointless time crunch of precious homemade goods cooking in the oven. Amelia finds new reasons to swear off pregnancy. Sarah gets real emotional about the concept of witches. We both lament how often genre fiction neglects the narrative potential of realistic injuries and healing, and our cat, again, goes briefly insane. Amelia's etsy store which again Sarah is posting, hi it's me Sarah, Amelia would rather die than self-promote this aggressively which is why I'm putting this in here AMELIA I LOVE YOU AND THE THINGS YOU MAKE!! Media mentioned: Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyreTiffany Aching Series, by Terry Pratchett "Common Cyborg," by Jillian WeiseCirce, by Madeleine Miller
50 minutes | Feb 15, 2022
Taste the Reading Rainbow! This week Sarah and Amelia discuss the way that our favorite books can be so deeply entwined with our memory, and in Sarah's case, her digestive tract. Do you have a book that brings you back to a specific point in your life? A novel you've read over time and time again? Or do you cast your personal and reading history into a dark vault which will open only on the hour of your death? Also, Sarah ranks various books based on the mouthfeel of their pages. Books discussed: Eragon by Christopher Paolini Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman Goosebumps by R.L. Stine Animorphs by K. A. Applegate The poetry of Wislawa Szymborska
33 minutes | Jan 31, 2022
Resolutions and Other Unkept Promises
It's a lil quickie! Short! Sweet! Full of baseless hopes about what the year will bring! This week, we're talking about our reading goals. Amelia dances with the idea of quality over quantity. Sarah's going to read one (1) western. We're both going to discuss the tv show What We Do In The Shadows an embarrassing amount. (Sorry about the sound quality on this one. We were trying a new set up, and it *finger guns* didn't work.) Media discussed: The Broken Earth trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin The Imperial Radch Series, by Ann Leckie The Winternight Trilogy, by Katherine ArdenThe Shadow Campaigns Series, by Django WexlerRemembrance of Earth's Past, by Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu and Joel Martinsen)This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, by Drew Gilpin FaustAnd obviously the tv show What We Do In The Shadows
64 minutes | Dec 28, 2021
In the final episode of 2021, Sarah and Amelia dig through their year's worth of reading materials in a ruthless gladiatorial death match of arbitrary categories and favoritism (but like, in a chill way). Triumphs are hard-won, emotional depths are plumbed, and favors are ruthlessly extorted under false pretenses and then upheld as law. Join us on a journey through our top picks in categories like "best nonfiction," "juiciest dynamic," and "guaranteed to rip your heart out and eat it in front of you." Books discussed in this episode: The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. EdenDream Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij JohnsonPiranesi by Susanna ClarkeThe Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting and A Seditious Affair by K.J. CharlesThe Man Who Ended History by Ken LiuNever Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishigiro Unnatural Magic by C M Waggoner Earth Fathers Are Weird by Lyn GalaBullshit Jobs: A Theory by David GraeberTwo Truths and a Lie by Sarah PinskerThe Unspoken Name AK Larkwood Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir I Capture The Castle by Dodie SmithThe Only Ones by Carola DibbellThe Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi VoHouse in the Cerulean Sea by TJ KluneKingdom of Copper by SA Chakraborty
44 minutes | Dec 14, 2021
God Bless Us Every Crumb
It's a Christmas special! This week Sarah and Amelia read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and discuss all the ways a person can do Christmas wrong: whether by being a rich coldhearted jerk with no love for your fellow man, or just by baking anything less than 1,500 Christmas cookies in a single weekend. We also touch on a few other favorite pieces of Christmas media and dig into the strange melancholy that so many of them tend to share.
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