There are two words for this past week:
There were cookies and candy everywhere I went, and my mom sent me home with this big plate of even more cookies and candy to take to work, where someone had brought in another tin of Christmas cookies! All the cookies! Everywhere!
I feel like I need to eat a bunch of vegetables so I can remember what not-sweet tastes like.
Aside from eating entirely too many sweets, I had a pretty great week. I mean, Christmas! I drove back to my parents’ house (about a 2.5-hour drive) on Christmas Eve and got to spend some time with sister and her family before they went to her in-laws’ house. The next morning I got to sleep in all the way to 9:00 before my sister and her family got back and it was time to eat breakfast and then open presents!
I received eight books this year
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
- The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
- The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
- The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
- Jade City by Fonda Lee
- Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly
They all have beautiful covers, and I am excited to read (or re-read) all of them! Photos to come. I didn’t have time or light to take pictures last week, but I will this week!
I slept in again on Wednesday morning and spent some more time with my parents, but my stay was cut short because of an incoming winter storm dumping ice and snow on the western part of the state. Apparently, I left about fifteen minutes before it started pouring rain that eventually turned to ice. Good timing. The weather was wet but tolerable for my entire drive back, and I got to spend the rest of the day at home in my pajamas. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday evening!
So I am far more rested and relaxed than I was last week. Hooray!
What I Finished This Week:
- The Secret Place by Tana French, audiobook narrated by Stephen Hogan and Laura Hutchison
- Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (Rise of the Empress #2) by Julie C. Dao
- The Tale of the Shining Princess adapted by Sally Fisher from a translation of the Japanese folktale by Donald Keene
I should have gone with my initial guess about whodunnit in The Secret Place because my first guess was the right one! I loved how this story unfolded as it shifted between time and perspectives, going back and forth between Detective Moran during the investigation of the murder of a sixteen-year-old boy and the teenaged girls at the center of the investigation. There were elements of strangeness that French never explained, and I loved that about it. Explaining it would have made those experiences mundane instead of weird manifestations of the power the girls were attempting to claim for themselves. I am constantly amazed by how French weaves her clues in among the complicated psychologies of her characters.
I decided to finally sit down with Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix and just finish it already so I can have a clean start to 2019. Though it’s a sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, the tone and rhythm of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix are entirely different. Like the Snow White story, it’s inspired by, this book is a fairy tale at heart, and contains elements of the original tale, as well as what I assume are folktales from China and Vietnam. The plot runs along at a quick pace that put me off at first, but once I realized that Julie C. Dao was emulating the fairytales her story is based upon, I settled in and finished the last half of the book in a single evening. It’s a charming story, though there are several elements that feel a little too convenient and story threads that are wrapped up a little too quickly. As a Snow White retelling, I think it is perfectly successful and charming overall. I gave it three stars on Goodreads.
The Tale of the Shining Princess is an adaptation of a 9th or 10th-century Japanese folktale. My edition has illustrations from a book made for the powerful Tokugawa family in the late 1800s. It’s a beautiful book about a poor bamboo cutter who finds a tiny girl in a bamboo cutting. He brings her home and he and his wife raise her as their own daughter. She grows into a luminous beauty who has suitors from all across the country. She gives five of them impossible tasks to complete in order to win her hand in marriage. It’s a lovely tale that I definitely recommend.
- The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye, ARC Provided by NetGalley
- The Trespasser by Tana French, audiobook narrated by Hilda Fay
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
What Do I Plan to Start Reading This Week?
I’m not sure yet. I have a TBR for January, and while monthly TBRs haven’t always gone well for me, I am excited about each of these books, so I guess I’ll finish out my current reads as soon as I can and pick one or two from the TBR stack.
- Madame Victoria by Catherine Leroux, translated from the French by Lazer Lederhendler
- Njal’s Saga by Anonymous, translated from the Icelandic by Robert Cook
- Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata, translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated from the Latin by Gregory Hays
- The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from the German by A. Poulin, Jr.
- The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
So many works in translation! It’s like I’m trying for a redo of my failed 2018 Read the World challenge!
Posts From This Week:
- Book Review: The Winter of the Witch
- Book Review: Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him
- LotR Reread: The Trees that Hit Back
That’s all for this week. I’m going to try to finish up Mrs. Dalloway today and see how far I get on The Paragon Hotel after that. I’m about halfway through Mrs. Dalloway, and it’s only about 200 pages long. The Paragon Hotel pulls me back in every time I pick it up, so I anticipate finishing it during my two-day break over New Year’s. I wish more people know about Lyndsay Faye. She’s an excellent writer.
What are your plans for the coming week?