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2024: The January Connections

So two things right away: my reading has slowed down a LOT since last year. I suppose that's to be expected having left graduate school, but it's still a little jarring. Also, my habit of reading 3-4 books at once might be to blame.

The part I most liked in making last year's brackets was the unexpected connections I found between books that ended up competing in the various brackets. The part I liked least was declaring a winner and letting WONDERFUL books, well, lose...

Seriously, that was TERRIBLE to write up!!

So, instead of being all competitive this year, I decided to focus on those connections. To keep the sense of serendipity, I'll be going in order...even if it gets a little odd.

This TikTok video represents a project given the working title of Accidentally Kidnapped by C.M. Alongi, who made the first draft available on Patreon.

The most fun part is that several other books from the month also fit this shared story. Other January books that fit the story that connects the first two books:

Although, of course, the people are stuck in very different (but suspiciously royal) stories.

This felt like the biggest stretch, but it fits nicely with several other works -- perhaps for exactly the reason that it's the loosest direct connection in the bunch.

Seriously, the best parts of Wayne Family Adventures are the episodes that feel like the Batfam is getting the therapy they all desperately need to reconcile all the parts of themselves that the dark and angsty main canon put them through. And the slow arc of convincing Brea that she has choices? In who to be and what to do? Finish it off with Meghan and Harry insisting they have the right to do so and the royal family not at ALL liking the conclusions they come to about how the family works when you take even the smallest step beyond its borders...

So...I didn't read any other Christmas books in January. Shocking, I know. So too specific to have a bunch of yellow lines going somewhere but these were a very happy pair.

This might be my favorite "oh wow, this IS the same story, isn't it" of January!

The spiraling chaos of both stories with a beating heart of reluctant family and unexpected,

ridiculous joy in all quarters. Also some supremely ridiculous characters popping up just for fun. Above all, the element of "why not" just binds these two into a glorious braid.

Only one other comp! But, well, the whole premise of Accidentally Kidnapped is that the Dark Lord Lucien is actually a fluffy teddy bear compared to the harshness of the Daylight Kingdom. He's not a pacifist any more than Batman or Death, but he loves as fiercely as Death and Batman too. He's as invested in the good of everyone and as surrounded by loyal and fierce pseudo family.

Just a minute to explain, here is the page of The Secret Art of Being a Grown-Up:

I feel like I could put up any page of any Batman comic to prompt the same advice. And actually, I was surprised how many other books this month made the same point.

With respect to, respectively, an excess of royal jewels and finery, those sadistic magic-sun-bracers, and the absurd toys that TAX-EXEMPT mega churches buy because we consider them philanthropic religions instead of cults who pour OUR money into their dastardly deeds.

So yeah, is it cheating to do multiple different connections? The second one feels a bit like a cheat on the previous connection anyway. Guess which connection goes with each of these three!

With bonus for the INVERSE of this, a story of someone being told they're not a real woman unless...

Yeah...with the exception that Meghan Markle is the most remarkable member of the family that is otherwise deeply ordinary, these two books really line up!

Also, apparently I like these themes because:

The last one really being the winner in terms of matching Endgame basically beat for beat...

So...yeah...I think of the below, only The Hogfather is trying to MAINTAIN those traditions. Also the only traditions willing to change with the times truly so...that might be related.

And so the full circle:

And with all the bonus connections:

That was fun! Mostly.

More of it felt tedious than the brackets last year, but ALL of it felt joyful, unlike choosing a winner last year. So for now, we're keeping it going.

Although if I get back to my usual reading load...this might fall apart fast.

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