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:
- The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye, ARC Provided by NetGalley
- The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
- Madame Victoria by Catherine Leroux, translated from the Fench by Lazer Lederhendler
- The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin
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 by Tana French, audiobook narrated by Hilda Fay
- The Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
- Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas
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:
- 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
- Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from the German by A. Poulin, Jr.
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.
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.
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.
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
- December Summary and January Preview
- 2019 Goals
- State of the ARC #2
- LotR Reread: ‘Fool of a Took’, Take Two
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?