As far as snowy and rainy birthday weeks go, this was a pretty good one. I didn’t really go out and do anything special, but a bunch of us did get together for pizza and cake, and I splurged a little and bought some books. Which books, you ask?
- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
- All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells
- The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
I’ll also be getting the rest of the books in Martha Wells’s Murderbot series, but I had to order them from Barnes and Noble. They should get here in a couple of days. They are as follows:
Hooray for birthday gift cards!
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Time and Materials by Robert Haas
- The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson, ARC provided by NetGalley and Grove Press
- Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan, ARC provided by NetGalley and Wednesday Books
- Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger
Time and Materials is a collection of poetry by Robert Haas, which apparently won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Great! I didn’t find anything that spoke terribly deeply to me, but I’m glad I read it all the same.
The Bird King is a lovely historical fantasy set in the last days of-of the Muslim kingdom of Granada, shortly before it surrendered to the Christian forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. It is about two lifelong friends, Fatima and Hassan, whose existence is anathema to the invading forces, who are hunting them as they flee through the countryside. It is the first book I’ve read by G. Willow Wilson, and I’m interested to see what else she has written.
I’ve heard a fair amount of hype for Wicked Saints, so I was excited to read it. ‘Gothic Joan of Arc’ was the concept I’d kept hearing about, and who doesn’t love a good Gothic fantasy? Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype. I found the first and last thirds to be dull and annoyingly predictable, several cliches popped up throughout, and the main female protagonist seemed perfectly willing to forgive some pretty horrendous crimes because the boys she saw were handsome or had a troubled past. Overall, while there were some interesting visuals and intriguing concepts, it felt like Duncan just didn’t have a grasp on her own story and so pulled in elements from other books, TV shows, and movies that looked or sounded ‘cool’. I’ll have a more detailed review up sometime this week or next.
Soulless is the first book in Gail Carriger’s paranormal Steampunk world, which is set in Victorian London. While I found the first two Finishing School novels to be funnier and better written, Soulless was definitely entertaining, and I intend to read more of the books in this universe.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I feel like this is a reasonable number of Jane Austen novels to be reading at once. Fanny Price’s reticence still gets on my nerves, but Juliet Stevenson’s narration helps bring the rest of the characters to life, so I’m making far more progress than I ever have before. Over in Sense and Sensibility, Marianne continues to be the ridiculous teenager I probably would have adored if I’d read it when I was seventeen. Now that I’m not a teenager, I find Elinor’s perspective to make perfect sense.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
- Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells
- Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells
- A Grain of Wheat by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
I put The Raven Tower on hold at the library shortly before it came out last week, and it arrived much sooner than I thought it would. There were several people in line ahead of me, so the library must have bought a bunch of copies. I’ve heard great things about it (like this review from NPR), but it will take some getting used to, as it is apparently written from the point of view of the tower itself, and is in the second person. But never let it be said I wasn’t willing to try a different storytelling mode.
I’ve talked about Artificial Condition and Rogue Protocol before, but I am so excited about this novella series. It’s unlike anything I’ve read from an AI’s perspective before, and you just can’t help but root for Murderbot as he struggles to sort out who he is as a unique, thinking being, as well as sort out the events of his past that made him what he is.
I meant to read Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat as part of my 2018 Read the World Challenge, but that didn’t happen. So I will read it this year. I can’t remember if I’ve read the work of any other Kenyan authors so this may be my first foray into Kenyan literature. A Grain of Wheat revolves around the lives of a group of villagers whose world has been upended by personal secrets and political upheaval.
In Other News:
I posted three book reviews this week, which must be a record for me. I hope to write more reviews in the future, as I found that the format I tried out has made the writing go more quickly, and is a lot more fun.
- A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanne Raybourn
- The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
- The Queens of Innish Lear by Tessa Gratton
I posted the latest installment of the Lord of the Rings Reread: “The King Returns! Sort of.” yesterday. The end of the war is in sight, but Aragorn and company have one more battle to face before we find out what happens to those two little hobbits, somewhere in the wilderness.
On the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, ‘If Memory Serves’, we see a few faces from Captain Pike’s past when Michael brings Spock to the forbidden planet of Talos IV in hopes of healing Spock’s mind before he goes completely mad. We discover that the murder charges leveled against Spock were, in fact, fabricated, and find out what Michael did to drive a rift between herself and Spock. Meanwhile, back on Discovery, Hugh is not settling in well after his resurrection, and the fact that Paul is trying way too hard to be helpful and a better partner this time around isn’t helping Hugh’s mental state. He picks a fight with Ash Tyler in the mess hall, and Saru lets it happen. Saru’s reasoning is perfectly reasonable, and Pike’s reponse was perfectly done. We’ve found more clues as to the Red Angel’s identity and its purpose, and former Empress Georgiou keeps getting the upper hand over Leland in the Section 31 scenes. Some reviewers wonder why Section 31 is fairly well-known in Discovery’s time, when it’s ultra-secret during Deep Space Nine, but the 110+ years between now and DS9 is plenty of time for Section 31 to go silent, particularly when it’s likely that Georgiou is going to be running that show in short order (literally, since CBS is planning a spinoff show devoted to Section 31, and Yeoh will be starring in it). Can I just add that the humor and action scenes in this season have been spot on? It’s been wonderful to watch everything unfold.
And that’s it for now! I’ve mostly been reading this week since I wanted to get ahead on my ARCs. I got caught back up on a couple of podcasts, and otherwise have been working and waiting out the dreary weather. Sadly, it looks like we’re in for more gloom- lots of rain this week to help wash away two months’ worth of snow!