Sunday Sum Up, 01/06/2019

Winter Destinations for Christmas!

This is a little later than usual today. I was out late last night and slept in this morning. Why was I out late? I went to see a movie for the first time in ages! I’m planning to go see another one later this week. Whoa!

More about the movies later.

This week was wonderfully relaxing. After work on New Year’s Eve a couple of my co-workers and I went to a new little bar across the street from where we work and had a pint to ring in the new year, and then I headed home. I’d been planning to hang out with some friends, but their kids were sick so that was a no-go. That meant I spent the evening alone, but that was okay. I drank tea, read, and watched BookTube before going to bed at the late, late hour of 12:15. At least I saw the countdown!

What I Read This Week:

Four books! Sure, I started reading The Paragon Hotel at the very end of 2018, but I’d only gotten about 25% of the way through it before the calendar clicked over to 2019. The rest are fairly short, but I took literary critic and prolific BookTuber Steve Donoghue’s advice by turning off the TV, not turning on music, and putting my phone in another room before settling down for some intensive reading sessions. Just like I did when I was a kid and didn’t have a smartphone, a stereo, or control over the TV. It’s amazing what you can read when you’re not surrounded by distractions!

The Darkness is a mystery/thriller from Iceland. Books of that genre are generally quick reads, and this one was no different. The cover blurb declared it to be shocking, and while the ending was surprising (and very different from what I expected), I wasn’t terribly intrigued overall. Jonasson introduced several different POVs from different points in time, and for it being such a short book, these POVs were extremely distracting. Jonasson has at least one other mystery series so I will give one or two of his other books a try.

Madame Victoria is a strange book. It’s based on the story of ‘Madame Victoria’, a corpse found outside the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal in 2001. Despite a wide search, the dead woman’s identity was never discovered, and she was largely forgotten. Leroux’s novel is a set of stories that investigates who Madame Victoria might have been. They start with tragic stories of ordinary women but venture off into speculative regions. It was a fascinating book I read in a single setting.

The Beginning Place is my first Ursula K. Le Guin book of 2019. It’s a lovely little portal fantasy about two young people who independently discover the gateway to the twilight realm of Tembreabrezi, and have to work together to defend it. Of course, with this being a LeGuin novel, it’s about much more than that. It’s about love and loss, facing your fears, and opening your mind and heart to the unexpected.

What I’m Currently Reading:

The Trespasser continues to baffle me. I’m sensing a bizarre left turn coming, but with this being a Tana French novel, I don’t know if that’s where the story will actually go. I was prepared to not like the POV character, Detective Antoinette Conway since she was a hardass in the last book (told from Detective Stephen Moran’s perspective). But French is a master of turning a character you don’t like in one book into one you appreciate in the next one. I’m so curious as to where this is going, but there are no long car trips in my future so I’ll have to just listen in the little chunks of time while I’m getting to work and around town.

I’d had The Shadow of the Fox on request on Overdrive for a while, but it came in for me this week. I downloaded it last night and started reading it at dinner before the movie last night. I really like Yumeko’s innocence and her mischievous nature. She is half-human/half-Kitsune (a Japanese fox spirit), and so being a prankster is just who she is. She’s not spiteful in her jokes, just playful. I can tell that some terrible things are about to happen, so I’m curious to see how Yumeko will deal with it.

Heir of Fire continues to be terrible. Rowan and Celaena continue to respond violently to everything that comes their way, as well as to each other. Chaol continues to be dense and inefficient, and Dorian isn’t doing anything at all. I keep hearing about how Adarlan’s king is terrible and inhumane, but all the characters are either too busy sniping at each other or making googly eyes over healing potions to actually do anything about the atrocities their people are facing.

What I Plan to Read This Week:

If I keep flying through my TBR the way I did the first week, I’ll get through it this week. I have four books remaining from my January TBR:

I stopped by the library on Thursday and picked up the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. I’d started reading it several years ago but never finished it so I figured I would give it another shot.

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My Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch continues apace. I’d forgotten that the seasons each have something like 21-22 episodes. I’ve gotten so used to shows that have 8-13 episodes per season. But I don’t mind, for the most part. While there are some filler stories, this longer format allows Deep Space Nine‘s story to slowly unfold and develop these characters more deeply than shorter seasons generally do. I’ve gotten to the later episodes of season one, which is a relief. They’re starting to bring up issues and characters who will play major roles in the rest of the show, and the main cast has knit together to form a great ensemble. And Doctor Bashir has gotten far less annoying than he was in the first few episodes.

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Now the movie from last night. Given my love of the Tudor era, it was a given that I would go see the new film, Mary Queen of Scots starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. My opinion of it? It’s fine. Nothing spectacular. The basic history is accurate, and Ronan’s portrayal of Mary is above reproach. But the film tries to take on entirely too much history- almost thirty years- to fit comfortably into a single movie. It gives it an impressionistic effect that relies a bit too much on symbolism and turns eminent British actors into set dressing. For example, Gemma Chan was cast as the formidable Bess of Hardwick, but she hardly has any lines and mostly spends her time onscreen casting sly, sidelong glances. If you’re looking for a historically inaccurate but visually appealing story of the conflict between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, I’d recommend that you check out Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Shekhar Kapur’s 2007 film starring Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen.

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The other film I’m planning to see this week is The Favorite, starring Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Coleman. It’s set in 1600s England and is about the cutthroat court politics of Queen Mary’s ladies. I know less about this period of time in England, but I’ve heard that the weirdness is accurate. I’m looking forward to this one.

Posts From This Week

I’m looking forward to another good week. Now that it’s January, things have quieted down at work. I’m reading a lot, staying healthy, and watching shows that I enjoy, so things are great!

What are you planning to do and read this week?

11 thoughts on “Sunday Sum Up, 01/06/2019

  1. I think we may try to squeeze a film in soon when my neck is fully recovered. It has been too long! As you know, out New Year’s was very quiet. I prefer that.

    I have found that leaving my phone in another room is always a must to reading. I do keep music on (only instrumental) or my white noise, but only to combat the tinnitus that has been crazy.

    Happy reading!

  2. It was nice to have a quiet New Year’s. 🙂

    I try to leave my phone in another room in general when I’m reading, but sometimes I’ll leave instrumental music on. I think it was easier for me to focus on the book without the music, though. White noise might be something to try, though. I have tinnitus, too, so it’s nice to have some kind of noise to drown that out.

  3. I’m stunned that you can read so much in one week, and yet have to get yourself to turn off the TV, music, phone, etc. too. My brain cannot compute!

    “Heir of Fire continues to be terrible.” Do you not quit books that are terrible?

    I saw The Favourite and enjoyed it. It’s funny, somewhat modernized in a way that blends in seamlessly, and also very uncomfortable.

  4. Well, I did have two days off from work with no obligations and no desire to go out in lousy weather. It’s a good recipe for finishing books.

    I had intended to read Heir of Fire as a sort of experiment- to read it like an editor and see if a) I could discover why it’s so popular, and b) pick apart something I don’t care for and see if picking at its weaknesses would help me with my own writing. I have succeeded in the latter, but am still baffled by the former.

    I just got back from seeing The Favorite! It was good! I loved the sharp wit and the way those three actresses carried if off.

  5. Wow! What an incredible and productive week, Kim! An impressive way to ring in the new year. I don’t know how you managed to read 4 books in a single week, even if they are short. Kudos to you!

    Ha! You’ve gotten further in the Throne of Glass series than I did. I stopped reading after book 1. I mean, I also read the prequel short stories to see if Maas’ writing or characters improved over the years. As it did not, I didn’t continue. I wanted to reply above to you reply to Melanie (I cannot figure out how to do so…), but I love your intention behind reading Heir of Fire. Will you continue the rest of the series along this vein?

    What sort of book are you writing? Do you hope to appeal to the same audience Maas’ books appeal to?

  6. This is definitely the last Maas book I will be reading. Wow, was it terrible! Nothing happens for 550 pages, and then an event happens out of the blue, and everything happens in the last 100 pages. And insufferable characters. Ugh.

    I am not writing a book, but a friend and I write an ongoing story for ourselves, and I’m always looking to improve my writing skills for that, and for writing in general. I did manage to learn more about what NOT to do from Heir of Fire…

  7. Insufferable characters is SO true.

    That’s so neat! How long have you and your friend been writing this story? Have you written a blog post about your story/process? I’d love to learn more — share a link with me if you did. Otherwise, details, please! 🙂

  8. We’ve been working on this extended story for about three years, though our work on it has been minimal in the last several months, thanks to all the traveling she does for work. Still, it’s fun to have something to write when I have a minute to sit down and do it, and it guarantees we’ll have something to talk about when she’s home. I haven’t made any blog posts about it, and we don’t have it posted anywhere. We probably never will. It’s more for practice than anything else, and it’s a lot of fun!

  9. Pingback: Award: Liebster Award #2

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