Is there anything more fun to do on a Friday night than spending forty-five minutes trying to figure out what has gone terribly wrong with your camera or editing software before figuring out that you merely changed a camera setting, and that’s why things are wonky?
So that was my Friday night. Part of it, anyway. Some of it was fun, like photographing clouds and going to the cafe for a pizza-stuffed pretzel and a latte. Also, a bookstore. Who doesn’t love a good trip to the bookstore?
Anyway. I read eleven books in June! Not too shabby, considering that I read only five or six in May. They are as follows:
- The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
- Bloodline (Wars of the Roses #3) by Conn Iggulden
- Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes
- Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
- The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel
- The Star-Touched Queen by Rakshi Shosani
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
- The Soul of the Camera by David duChemin
- The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
- Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My Favorite Book of the Month:
Katherine Arden’s beautiful debut novel brings medieval Russia to life- along with its fairytales- with the story of Vasilisa, a young woman who must defy her family and her culture in order to save her people from the onslaught of the winter demon. There was never a moment where I wasn’t fully drawn into Vasya’s world, and though many of the spirits were unknown to me before I read the book, they felt like familiar faces by the end. I was even moved to pity the human antagonists instead of merely hating them, and that is a rare occurrence. I was happy to discover that Arden has a follow-up book in the works, due out next winter.
My Least Liked Book of the Month:
I went into the reading of this book with a feeling of ‘meh’, and after many eyerolls and a lot of skimming, I finished it with a feeling of ‘meh’. All too often, the prose let me down with its clumsiness or poor word usage, often kicking me right out of the story while I tried to figure out what, exactly, Maas meant by a particular phrasing. Calaena was not interesting, nor what I ever worried for her safety. Of course she was going to win the competition. And of course Darion and Chaol were going to fall for her. There was never any doubt about that, and that killed any tension that might have been building. What would have made this book more interesting? If it had been about Princess Nehemia instead.
An update on an earlier post, Must See TV- Kinda Sorta: I finished the first seasons of Victoria and The Shannara Chronicles!
Victoria ended on just the right note- with the birth of Victoria’s first child and the royal couple as happy and as powerful as they could be. Their rivals have been cast down, the people adore them (mostly), and even disputes within the extended family have settled down. Things couldn’t be better for Victoria and Albert. Not so for the rest of the characters, who have spurned possible love interests, left the palace to seek better lives, or have otherwise made bad decisions that have made them unhappy. The season ended beautifully, and if you went back to watch the first episode all over again, the changes the first few years of her reign have wrought on Victoria would be obvious, but they developed naturally across the season, with nothing that felt forced or rushed. I can’t wait for the next season!
The Shannara Chronicles is another story altogether. I was honestly surprised to find that it had been renewed for a second season given how lackluster the first season was, with too many repetitious plot elements, lousy scripts, and changes in relationships that felt completely unnatural. While other shows such as Game of Thrones effortlessly handle a vast cast across multiple plotlines, Shannara struggled to do the same. I think it would have benefited from a smaller cast in its first season. The showrunners could also have gotten rid of the internal plots of a few episodes and spread the main story arc across them instead. The overall story would have been better had they not been almost constantly introducing one-off places and characters that were never intended to last more than an episode. The next season starts in September, and while I think the events of the (lackluster) finale point to a tighter, more interesting show the next time around, if things don’t improve soon, I won’t continue watching.
What’s next for July? Another five books that I will intend to read, but may or may not get to, depending on what pops up between now and the end of the month.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk
- Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
- Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavić
- Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt
I’ve been intending to read Pride and Prejudice and Istanbul: Memories and the City for the last couple of months. Will I actually get around to reading them? Who knows?
I’m actually about a quarter of the way through Practical Magic at the moment, thanks to a quick download from the public library. I am enjoying it so far! Dictionary of the Khazars and Little Black Book of Stories have been sitting on the shelf, looking sad for quite some time. They are, I think, getting lonely up there, so I am going to make a concerted attempt to read them, too.
I realized the other day that I have a little over a month left before I leave for Iceland! Woohoo! The excitement is building! But first I have to get through July, which is usually a long, hot month.