Two weeks ago, I had an uneventful week. Last week was eventful.
Sunday dawned sunny and quiet, but by mid-afternoon storm clouds were building. I went for a walk anyway, but that ended early when the lightning started. An hour or so later, the tornado sirens went off and the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the area. I spent forty-five minutes huddled with my cat on the bathroom floor looking for weather updates. Eventually, the storm passed, but not after an EF2 tornado touched down in the southwestern corner of the city, destroying a Mom & Pop ice cream store that celebrated its fortieth anniversary in April, and ripping part of the roof off a motorcycle dealership. Fortunately, everyone got out of the ice cream shop in time, and there were no injuries or deaths.
On Tuesday, we had our local general elections, and I will admit to a bit of schadenfreude. Last year, the local Republican party got a retroactive term-limits provision put onto the ballot as a sneaky way to get rid of the popular, three-term Democratic mayor. They knew they couldn’t field a candidate to defeat him, so they got him out of office another way. But on Tuesday they discovered they still didn’t have a candidate who could defeat a Democratic candidate. We voted in a popular city councilwoman, and so we have a progressive woman as mayor-elect!
On Wednesday night I had dinner with friends, and then Thursday and Friday were two very stressful days at work. I was happy to see Saturday roll around again.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
- The Ruba’iyat by Omar Khayyam, translated from the Persian by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs
- Winds of Change (Mage Winds #2) by Mercedes Lackey
- His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik
- For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters, and More by Graham Tarrant, ARC provided by NetGalley
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street was an intriguing book and did not go where I expected it to. I had thought it would be a story closer to something like Samantha Shannon or similar authors would write, but Pulley’s writing was more subtle and more restrained. For me, this was a benefit. I intend to read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street again because I know there were things I missed the first time through.
I had only read a few parts of The Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam before, and while Avery’s and Heath-Stubbs’s translation was not as flowy and romanticized as those other bits I’d read, they provided significant context regarding Khayyam, his background, and the historical and cultural contexts of his work. This is another book I will likely reread in the future, but with a different translation.
Winds of Change is another book for the 2019 #ReadingValdemar project with Melanie @ Grab the Lapels and Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku. I enjoyed this second installment in the Mage Winds trilogy far more than the first. The story was more cohesive thanks to the fact that Elspeth and Darkwind have met up and Lackey isn’t info dumping the history of her world. Nyara and Skif are both more proactive, and a storyline that could have become extremely annoying was satisfyingly wrapped up before it droned on too long. I think Winds of Change marks a change for the better in Lackey’s writing overall, though I could have done with less of Falconsbane’s point of view.
His Majesty’s Dragon is as charming of a book as I’ve heard. Novik imagines an alternate world where history has gone as we remember it, but with dragons. When the story opens, Will Laurence is a disciplined and gentlemanly Captain in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. He and his men defeat and claim a French warship, and when they board it they discover a dragon egg. When the egg hatches before they reach port, the baby dragon, Temeraire, bonds with Laurence and changes his life forever. His Majesty’s Dragon reads like a naval adventure story, and Temeraire is thoroughly charming. I have all four books in this series and plan to continue it soon.
For the Love of Books is a book about books, but it is not a memoir of one person’s reading life. It is a history of books, authors, conflicts, and genres. It does not go into depth about anything– at most, one topic receives a page and a half– but if you are looking for a quick jaunt through the recent history of literature, this is an entertaining read.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski, translated from the Polish by David French, audiobook narrated by Peter Kenny
- Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger, audiobook narrated by Emily Gray
- The Crystal Stair (Tales of Gom #3) by Grace Chetwin
Blood of Elves is turning out to be far different from what I expected, narrative-wise. It does not begin by being an action-packed tale about men trained from childhood to hunt monsters. It begins as a philosophical tale about men trained from childhood to hunt monsters who are out of their depth when it comes to raising a teenaged girl. Their world is on the brink of war, though, and the girl’s fate seems to be darker than Geralt, the Witcher, can imagine.
I am nearly at the end of Blameless, and I’m looking forward to how the story is resolved. It’s a fun book overall, but I still don’t care for Emily Gray’s narration.
I did not expect to receive The Crystal Stair via interlibrary loan so soon, but on Tuesday I received a notification that it had arrived. It came all the way from a little town (and it’s even little by my standards, with fewer than 1,200 people living there) in Ohio. I’ve barely begun it, and so I have nothing to say about it so far.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- Bring up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell trilogy #2) by Hilary Mantel
- The Dispossessed (The Hainish Cycle #6) by Ursula K. Le Guin
- The Witch Elm by Tana French
What I’m Watching:
Game of Thrones episode 804, ‘The Last of the Starks’, was fine. There were a lot of character moments. Some of them were good, some of them weren’t, and some of them were physically impossible, as Michael Livingston’s analysis shows from this article on Tor.com (p.s. don’t read it if you don’t want to be spoiled). I suspect I’ve guessed some of what will happen in the next, penultimate episode that airs tonight.
Versailles, season three: I didn’t finish the season like I had hoped I would. Thanks to my eventful week, I wanted to read in my spare time, not watch television. I got through a few more episodes last night thanks to a rainstorm that kept me inside once I got home. The developments this season have been unexpected and interesting, and the court intrigue has been ratcheting up now that Madame de Maintenon has taken her place as Maîtresse-en-titre, the king’s official mistress. Like anyone playing the political game at this level, there is more to her than there appears to be. I should be able to finish off the season this week.
Tolkien. I haven’t seen the biopic based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s life yet, but I plan to on Tuesday night. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but Jeff LaSala gave it fairly high marks on Tor.com. He is a Tolkien fan through and through and wrote the Silmarillion Primer (again for Tor.com). His review was enough to push me toward going to see it in the theater.