the Little Red Reviewer

time for Low Stakes

Posted on: September 26, 2021

Seems like SFF is on a trend of super high stakes for the last . . . while now.

Hyped novels are about saving the world, changing society (hopefully for the better) really good vs really bad, sympathy for baddies and morally grey characters, getting reading to change our thought processes and world views, etc. success or death!

eh, could just be me, and how I when I read a book I really get into it. Could be because authors are freakin’ amazing, could be because my brain has no boundaries, likely a combination of the two.

Sometimes high stakes in books is exhilarating! Exciting! Thrilling! The best possible escapism!

but you know what? I’m at a point (oh hello, real life!) where high stakes in what I’m reading has gotten exhausting. Real life has enough stakes right now, you know?

I am ready for some low stakes. I am gifting myself with a sabbatical from reading books with high stakes.

That said, you’ll likely be surprised by what I read during this sabbatical. I know I’m already pleasantly surprised.

Recent reads:

Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Cruzie – what a fun and sexy contemporary romance! Lots of adorable flirting, lots of very hot sex. I’m going to be going through the library’s collection of Cruzie book, that is for sure! It was nice to read a book that has a happy ending – two people who like each other get to have happy hot sex with each other and end up together. The highest stakes in the book were are they gonna have sex at her place or his place. About half way through the novel, the author throws in a murder mystery – the local asshole ends up dead – shot in the shoulder, drowned, run over by a car, and had a heart attack. This guy was a jerk to everyone and was trying to blackmail half the town. Trying to figure out who killed the guy isn’t high stakes, it’s a plot twist. This book was 100% fun to read.

Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge, translated by Jeremy Tiang – some books are fun to read, this one was fun and beautiful to read. Each chapter talks about a different kind of “strange beast”, mythological creatures who live alongside humans and can often pass for human. The Narrator had been going for a degree in biology and ended up dropped out to become an author. She is still close with her old biology professor, they have a very weird but close relationship, and she also befriends one of his current students. As she learns more about the different mythological beasts, she learns some of her closest friends aren’t 100% human. Not a high stakes story, just very beautiful and poetic. If you’re looking for translated fantasy that is unusual and easy to read, I highly recommend Strange Beasts of China.

Land of the Lustrous (vol 1) by Haruko Ichikawa – a fun, bizarre far future slice of life manga. The characters are gems and minerals (sorta, a little like Steven Universe), and their chemical make up and hardness allows them to defend the earth from the Lunarians who are trying to kill them. The first volume introduces the characters and gives some background as to why the earth is populated by anthropomorphic minerals instead of humans. I had seen some random episodes of the Land of the Lustrious anime, and the music and animation for the Lunarians was so incredible! It’s a fun story, the character shit-talk each other, form cliques, and then are secretly helpful and nice to each other when push comes to shove.

TV I’m watching – my latest obsession is Money Heist on Netflix. It’s a soap opera that thinks it is a crime drama. Such a fun, over the top, ridiculous show. I just started season 2, and one of the main characters, Tokyo, has totally invested in imitating Milla Jovovich, romance is in the air, and oh the melodrama! A super binge-able show. Great writing and it looks like the actors had a fun time filming the show. Is there high stakes? Oh sure. But I’m ignoring them. And come on, this is TV so like, who cares about stakes?

4 Responses to "time for Low Stakes"

Yep, same thing here with mysteries with serial killers, or the plethora of novels set in Ireland during “the troubles”. Sometimes I just want to go back to the Sixties.

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I hear that! I knew I needed a break when I picked up a novel by an award winning author whose previous work I have loved, got 10 pages in to the book and realized “I am done with serial killer books”

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This is why my viewing choices tend to be old B-movies or episodes of Murder She Wrote. Real life gives me plenty of heavy-duty problems and I don’t want them in my TV entertainment.

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I’ve been watching a lot of Adult Swim cartoons from 10 – 15 years ago. Silly action, absurd characters, terrible jokes. no stakes. Cooking shows are nice too. but omg, not Great British Baking Show! i love that show, but holy crap the tension!!!

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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