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:
- A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn, ARC Provided by NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group
- The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima, translated from the Japanese by Ivan Morris
- The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
- The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
- 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
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:
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
- Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger, audiobook narrated by Moira Quirk
- The Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from the German by A. Poulin, Jr.
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:
- Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger
- Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake #1) by C.J. Sansom
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!