Sunday Sum Up, 02/24/2019

 

So we had a blizzard yesterday. One of those slow-clotted storms with high winds that fling ice at your face at high speed if you make the mistake of wandering outside. I’m not sure yet how much snow we ended up getting. It might not have been more than six inches, but with 45mph wind gusts to blow it all around, that was enough to get most businesses to close early or not open at all yesterday. I got to go home a whole hour early, and had I not missed a turn because I couldn’t see the intersection, it wouldn’t have taken me much longer than normal to get home.

 

I spent my slightly longer than normal afternoon finishing up the first season of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. I sat down to watch the first episode last Sunday and ended up watching the first eight episodes, so that should tell you something about how good it is. I so wanted to watch those last two episodes throughout the week, but I didn’t have a two-hour span to sit down with it like I knew I would want to, so I made myself wait until last night. I’m glad I did. The Umbrella Academy is about a family of seven adopted children, six of whom have super powers. Their eclectic billionaire of an adoptive fater sought to create a squad of crime-fighting superheroes, but then the kids grew up. Now dysfunctional adults, all seven siblings come together for the funeral of their adoptive father, and mayhem ensues. It’s not your ordinary superhero show, and it’s wonderful and you should watch it right away.

The latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, 206 ‘The Sound of Thunder’, takes us to Saru’s homeworld of Kaminar thanks to one of the seven signals the elusive ‘Red Angel’ sent out. Now that Saru has lost his fear and discovered the truth about his people, the Kelpiens, and the creepy Ba’ul, the second sentient species from his planet, he is not willing to simply stand by and let things on his homeworld go on as they have always done. Saru shows incredible growth in this episode, and it will be interesting to see how these effects will change Saru’s relationships with his crewmates. We’ve also begun to see how Hugh Culber has changed now that he’s returned to the Discovery. His journey will be a fascinating one as well.

 

What I Read This Week:

I finished up A Dangerous Collaboration on Sunday. It was just as charming as I expected it to be, and suspenseful in more ways than one. I completely fell for Raybourn’s red herrings, and so was surprised when the answer to the mystery was revealed. There was a change in Veronica and Stoker’s relationship I did not expect, too, and so I am definitely looking forward to how this change affects the next books in the series.

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion was hard to get through. It deals with a mentally unbalanced young monk who grows more and more obsessed with the beauty of Kyoto’s famous Temple of the Golden Pavilion until it begins to adversely affect his life. Finally, he comes up with a horrifying plan to rid himself of the Temple’s influence over his life and set himself free. The difficulties I experienced came from the casual brutality of the main characters, who find it perfectly acceptable to abuse the people around them, simply because they can.

I finally finished reading The Queens of Innis Lear. It was fantastically atmospheric and an icredible interpretation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, but I could have done without the numerous flashbacks sprinkled through the book, even right up to the very ending. They broke the flow of the story and didn’t add enough to justify their existence. Rather, they felt like either Gratton didn’t trust her own writing to convey the relationships she was fleshing out in the flashbacks, or she didn’t trust the reader to pick up on the cues she put into the story. This may be because The Queens of Innis Lear is her first adult novel after writing YA, and I’m willing to give her another shot. I’ll look forward to her next book, whatever it may be.

I read The Sisters of the Winter Wood in one day thanks to a car repair (I needed two new tires) and the subsequent two hours I spent sitting in a Burger King, waiting until I could get my car back. The story is told from the points of view of Liba and Laya, two sisters from a Jewish family growing up on the banks of the Dnieper river in the early Twentieth century. When their parents are called away to take care of a dying relative, the girls are left alone for the first time in their lives. A family secret, strange creatures in the woods, and a growing distrust of Jews in the area combine to force Liba and Laya to confront their own natures and tests the bonds of sisterhood. I liked this one, but sometimes its surreal nature disrupted the flow of the story, and I found myself wondering if I had actually skipped something, or if there were jumps in the narration that just went unremarked. Still, it’s a beautiful story that succeeds in its fairytale feeling, linking folk and fairytales with historical events.

84, Charing Cross Road is a collection of letters between Helene Hanff, a writer from New York City, and the staff of a used bookstore in London from the early 1950s into the 1960s. Though the letters rarely span more than a single page, they are charming and provide a candid look into the lives of the staff of the bookstore and of Hanff herself. Across this rather slim book, I grew to love the people in the letters as if I had been the one writing to them. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves books. At just under 100 pages it is a quick read, and its charm will captivate you from the first page.

What I Am Currently Reading:

I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility for quite some time. I’m not very far into it- only about 25 pages- and I am looking foward to getting reacquainted with Marianne and Elinor.

I only have a little bit of Etiquette and Espionage left to listen to. I am completely in love with Sophronia and her practicality, regardless of whatever odd situation she finds herself in. I’m enjoying the cast so far, though the Finishing School novels are YA, and so are a little lighter in tone. I’ve checked out Soulless, also by Gail Carriger, which is the first book in her adult series, The Parasol Protocol. I will be starting that one soon.

I’ve read The Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus before- several times, in fact- but I bought this new copy recently to replace a used copy I bought several years ago. There was no smell to give me solid evidence, but the old copy looked brown enough to have belong in the house of a heavy smoker. Also, the spine was starting to break in an irrepairable fashion, so the new copy I bought from Book Depository has the advantage of being both prettiers and unbroken. Rilke’s poetry remains gorgeous, though he can be melodramatic now and then. That said, I am determined to commit the last stanza of the Tenth Elegy to memory.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

 

I should start putting together a TBR for March. I’m finding that pulling a small stack of books that lives on one of the shelves in my living room is more effective at getting me to pick up unread books from my own shelves than having an entire shelf or two devoted to unread books. If they’re out I can’t ignore them as easily, and so am more likely to stay on task with them and get them read. I also get to scratch that organizing itch when I put a newly read book away (or into the unhaul pile) and decrease the number of books hanging out on the ‘wrong’ shelf. It’s pushed me to read several of my own unread books so far this year, so I will definitely keep going with the TBR stack.

As for my next audiobook, I think I will see if the library has Mansfield Park by Jane Austen or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. I have tried to get through Mansfield Park several times before, and just haven’t made it past the play’s rehersals. Perhaps an audiobook will help me get past that particular point. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is tempting because I want to get through more of the Brontës’ books. It’s incredible to me that these three sisters, who lived out on the moors of northern England, were all able to write literary classics. If one of the sisters had done so, if we had just gotten, say, Jane Eyre, that would be been amazing enough, but that all three wrote ageless classics? What was in the air around that little house of theirs?


 

In other super exciting news, I am going back to Iceland! I finally sat down and bought my plane tickets to Reykjavik. I’ll be going there mid-September, when the nights are quickly growing longer, and most of the tourists have gone home. I’m hoping to photograph the Northern Lights and see more of the amazing country I got a mere taste of back in 2017. There are a couple of places already on my must-see list that I missed last time, but I am determined to see new places this time, now that I have driven there and discovered that Iceland is not the treacherous place to drive in that certain travel blogs led me to believe it was. I’m also planning to take Hannah Kent’s book, Burial Rites with me and read it while I’m there, since it takes place in northern Iceland. I can’t wait for September!

08_10_2017 Iceland 156

08_14_2017 Iceland 069

 

7 thoughts on “Sunday Sum Up, 02/24/2019

  1. There is a part of me that wants to travel more, but I think I become paralyzed by fear, fear of only going to Europe or other Western places and being accused of being closed minded. But everyone I know who takes trips to places like Cambodia, Peru, India, Uganda, Morocco, etc. have harrowing tales of nearly dying from some disease or bacteria that doctors couldn’t explain or cure. I guess I’m just an indecisive wuss 😦

    I saw the previews for the Umbrella Academy and really want to watch it, but the thing turning me off is that every episode is an hour long. I think I need to stop thinking of shows on Netflix as “TV shows” and start thinking of them as made-for-TV movies, like Roots, Anne of Green Gables, and Pride & Prejudice.

    I mentioned in today’s and last week’s Sunday post that I’m reading a book called Night of the Living Trekkies. It’s really well written, and every time I’m reading a chapter or two to my husband, I think of you. I’ll bet you would really like it!

  2. No one I know has ever accused me of being closed-minded for only going to European countries (is Iceland European? or is it North American?). Regardless of where you go in the world, it’s always an eye-opening experience. One of my best friends travels extensively to tropical countries for work, and she’s never gotten a weird parasite or illness.

    Yeah, the Netflix shows are definitely made for continued watching, not a week-to-week viewing. I try to set aside a block of time so I can watch at least a few episodes at a time.

  3. Okay, so now I just feel like a paranoid weird, lol. Thank you for telling me about your friend’s travels. And also, I’m not sure which continent Iceland is part of *embarrassed* I create hurdles in my mind that are incredibly unnecessary. I’m sorry if I implied you are closed-minded. That is absolutely NOT what I meant.

  4. I’m not sure which continent Iceland is part of either, so don’t feel embarrassed. Also, I was not at all offended. It is difficult to offend me, so don’t worry. I was just puzzled by the thought of people who would call someone close-minded for traveling abroad…

  5. Honestly, my concern about seeming closed-minded likely stems from my last teaching job. Students were required to do a study abroad program that sent them to only a select few places: India, Uganda, Ghana, Peru, or Brazil. They would live in desolate areas in an attempt to be more aware of their privilege, conscious of how others live, and do good works (this was a Catholic college). No one got to hang in Rome or Paris for a semester, for example, and the school seemed to feel strongly that such trips abroad were for pleasure more than learning or helping the poor. I now see that I’ve conflated “vacation” with “helping the poor.” These don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but most likely will be.

  6. You’ve had quite the week a blizzard! Wow. I’ve been hoping for just one snow day this winter but won’t get much snow where I live so I probably should give up this season, probably not going to happen.

    I have been meaning to read 84 Charing for months now. I’m feeling a little under the weather today so maybe I’ll read it this evening with tea.

    I keep forgetting to see what’s available on Netflix, I’ve been meaning to watch Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society but haven’t yet. Maybe watching that with my evening tea is a better idea.

    I hope you enjoy Sense and Sensibility, I went to a stage play of it several years ago before I read the book. I enjoyed both and I think because I had seen the play,I was more sympathetic toward Marianne when I read the book

  7. If only we’d had a snow day with all of this weather! The schools have had several, but I haven’t had a single one. Alas! We don’t usually have this much snow in February, and it looks like we’re going to get even more this weekend.

    84, Charing Cross Roads is so quick to get through! I finished it during a single lunch hour, so definitely pick it up soon. It’s worth it!

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is so charming! Definitely watch it!

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