It’s been a cold and gloomy week around here, capped by a weekend of snow, ice, and rain. And just as it happens every year, I did not get to spend my lone day off relaxing. I had to do a bunch of adulting, which included most of an hour spent on hold. Not fun. I’m crossing my fingers that I will be able to relax this coming Wednesday. With twenty-three days to go until Christmas, I am already ready for it to be over and done with. Sure, I like the idea of the holidays and Christmas cheer and everything, but when you have four days off in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it gets harder and harder to maintain said holiday cheer.
I think that’s part of why I’m engaging in a nutty little project this month. I, of all people, ordered a (cheap used) copy of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. I know, I know. I am not the person you thought would buy anything at all by Maas, but I’m not planning to read the book seriously. It will be a combination hate read/editing practice. One of my criticisms of the two Throne of Glass books I’ve read is that the writing was rushed and the editing was minimal at best. I think the publisher was in such a rush to put out the next books in the series that they didn’t bother with the normal editing process. I can’t take my seasonal snark out on the general public, so the book’s gonna get it! Maybe I won’t get very far in this, but for about the price of a latte, I can’t go too wrong.
What did I finish reading this week?
- Broken Harbor by Tana French
- Extravagaria by Pablo Neruda
I was completely unprepared for the identity of the culprit when I got to the end of Broken Harbor. Holy buckets, did I not expect that! And I should have known better since Tana French is so good at upending your expectations. But both the main plot and the subplot went in directions I did not anticipate and dovetailed so perfectly that they could not have logically ended anywhere else, no matter how skewed the characters’ internal logic was. Tana French continues to impress me with her insights into human nature, and her writing is gorgeous without drawing undue attention to itself. I’m planning to pick up the next book, The Secret Place on audiobook, assuming it’s available at the library.
Extravagaria is a beautiful collection of Neruda’s poetry, dealing with themes of loneliness, beauty, and aging among others. It’s certainly worth the reading, though only a few poems really knocked me flat, and that was ‘This is where we live’. Here is one stanza:
“From then on I was never
let down by a single wave.
I always found the flavour of the sky
in the water, in the earth,
and the wood and the sea burned together
through the lonely winters.”
What I am currently reading:
- The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
- The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, ARC provided by NetGalley
- Words are My Matter: Writings about Life and Books 2000-2016, with A Journal of a Writer’s Week by Ursula K. LeGuin, audiobook narrated by Laural Merlington
I was thrilled to find out I’d been approved for an ARC of the final installment of Katherin Arden’s Winternight Trilogy! I’m partway through it now, and it’s living up to all my expectations, and going in directions I did not expect, but wholly approve of. But if you, as I did, want to run a search of ‘Lady Midnight’ to see if this character is analagous to the one in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, be sure to include “Russian Myth” in the search, or you will inundated with results about Cassandra Clare’s books. That was not was I was looking for.
The Monster Baru Cormorant is so far living up to my expectations of it, given what happened at the end of the first book. I love the political maneuvering, and I love how Baru isn’t sure if she is the player, or if she is being played. I’m not going to bother trying to anticipate the outcome of this story. I’m just going to read it and let myself be surprised and/or shocked by whatever happens.
I want to read more of Ursula K. Le Guin’s books. The more I read by her, the greater the depth of thought and philosophy I find. In this collection of essays, I’ve found all sorts of philosophical gems about anything from abortion rights to the pointlessness of critics being snobby about genre fiction. I’m almost halfway through and looking forward to the rest of it.
There are no other books on the docket at the moment, as I need to get through The Monster Baru Cormorant and The Winter of the Witch so I can write up reviews for them and get onto my next two ARCs. Three of them come out on January 8th, and while The Monster Baru Cormorant came out a month ago I just got the approval last week. Great timing there, MacMillian/Tor-Forge.
I’m going to make a short list of things that have made me happy this week, since I need to be reminded of happy things during this crazy month:
- The ‘Pumpkin Bourbon’ candle from the Chesapeake Bay Candle collection, which I bought on sale at Target. It smells fantastic, and is sweet without being cloying.
- I finally received the Blu-Ray edition of Star Trek: Discovery, Season 1 I ordered. It’s been fun going back through the episodes and seeing how it all unfolds with the knowledge of what happens already in mind.
- In her ‘December TBR + Giveaways‘ video, Elliot Brooks announced that her December buddy read is going to be The Lord of the Rings (or at least The Fellowship of the Ring). You all know how much I adore LotR, so I am unduly excited that she is tackling this book for the first time as a buddy read. I am definitely taking part, though I don’t think it starts until about halfway through the month.
- Bookstagram. I love being able to take a couple of minutes away from work now and then to scroll through all the amazing bookish photos and briefly bask in the shared joy of books. Bookstagrammers have been a bit mocked in the media lately, along with some other drama going on, but my experience with the community has been entirely positive. I’m glad I started taking bookish photos again!