The heatwave broke! Finally. A front moved in on Thursday and brought storms along with it– high winds, heavy rain, and plenty of thunder and lightning. And also a microburst, because why not?
The marginally cooler weather will last for another week at least, so hooray for that. 85°F I can live with. 95°F and higher is not at all comfortable.
But while the tolerable temperatures last, happy Summer Solstice! I shot this at the park last night at sunset. A low bank of clouds was coming in, so no pretty colors, except for blues.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
While it was hot, both the cats would flop down on the wood floor for their naps, despite all the blankets and the couch and the bed they could have been sleeping on. Mina, in particular, enjoyed stretching out on bookshelves or on top of the low bookcase in the living room. Now that the weather has cooled off a little, both of them have been curling up on the bed, so I wake up to one cat or the other staring at me, waiting for me to get up and feed them.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, ARC provided by NetGalley
- The Changeling by Victor LaValle, audiobook narrated by Victor LaValle
- Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly
Mexican Gothic is yet another fantastic story from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who slips from one fantasy sub-genre to another with ease. This is a brilliantly creepy Gothic novel with fantastical elements that deals with English colonialism and eugenics, among other things. I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of Gothic stories, dark fantasy, or horror. Check out my review here, if you’re curious.
The Changeling is another creepy story, this time by Black author Victor LaValle, who incorporates a variety of real-world elements into this story– such as parenthood, love, and the systemic racism that Black people endure– which only serve to ground the story in a greater reality once the fantastical elements begin to creep in. The basic story is about a Black man named Apollo Kagwa, who is happily married to Emma. Their family seems complete after the arrival of their first child, but after a few months, things begin to unravel. One day, Emma and the baby are gone, and Apollo is left behind to find the answers to what happened. His journey takes him beyond the realm of the known world and into a mythical realm– with a few unnerving detours along the way. The Changeling shared the 2018 World Fantasy Award with Fonda Lee’s Jade City, and for good reason.
Amberlough is the first in a speculative fiction trilogy that reimagines the decadence of much of European society before the rise of the Nazis before World War II. The city of Amberlough is a live-and-let-live place where gender equality is assumed, and relationships of all kinds are allowed to blossom without much comment. But a fascist minority is plotting a coup d’etat, and they are willing to use whatever means necessary to succeed and install their puritanical ideology across the country. In this changing world, Cyril- a washed-up spy, his lover Aristide- a smuggler, and Cordelia- a nightclub dancer must go to extreme lengths to survive the political upheaval. I loved this book, and I have strong feelings about certain characters. I anticipate some redemption arcs going on, but at this point, I’m furious at one of the characters for doing what they did. It’s going to take a lot of selfless acts for them to be redeemed. I already own the second book in the trilogy, Armistice, and I ordered the third book, Amnesty, from Barnes and Noble the other night. I should get it sometime this week.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, audiobook narrated by Kim Staunton (10%)
- The Game of Kings (The Lymond Chronicles #1) by Dorothy Dunnett (282/543)
I’m not very far into Kindred, but it’s fascinating so far. A 1970s Black woman named Dana, is pulled into the past to save the life of a young white boy named Rufus in the American South in the early 1800s. After several incidents of traveling back and forth through time, Dana realizes that she is meant to keep saving Rufus’s life until he can father her ancestor. In this classic time-traveling fantasy, Butler deals with slavery, racism, human rights, family, and love. So far, Kim Staunton’s narration is great, and I’m looking forward to getting to the rest of the story.
I’ve been making an effort to get farther along in The Game of Kings this past week, and it’s been working. I’m now over halfway through the book, and the politics have been pretty wild. I’ve found out about the incident that made the Scots see Lymond as a traitor, seen Lady Margaret Douglas make a few spectacular appearances, and I come to think that Christian is much cleverer than her relatives think she is. They assume that, because she’s blind, that she doesn’t know much about the world around her. But she takes in a lot more information than they give her credit for. Right now, she’s my favorite character in the book.
What I Plant to Start Reading This Week:
- The Bloodprint (The Khorasan Archives #1) by Ausma Zehanat Khan
- Armistice (The Amberlough Dossier #2) by Lara Elena Donnelly
What I’ve Been Watching:
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Streaming on Netflix
I’ve seen so many glowing recommendations for this series, and when it began streaming on Netflix, I figured I’d give it a try. It’s a wonderful story about finding one’s path in life, facing responsibility, duty, honor, friendship and family, and doing the right thing in the face of terrible odds. Though it’s not my new favorite show or anything, I can definitely see why it’s a beloved series. If I’d seen it when I was a teenager, I would have adored it. I would definitely recommend it, especially if you have children and would like a show to watch with them.
Streaming on Netflix
I started watching Hannibal when it was first airing, but I only saw the first season. While I loved the show, I missed the next two seasons (not sure why) and never caught back up with it. It’s currently streaming on Netflix, and I am hooked once more. Hugh Dancy plays the nervous and unbalanced character of Will Graham perfectly, and Mads Mikkelsen is brilliantly understated as the terrifying Hannibal Lecter. While it’s not necessary to know just who Hannibal is going into the show, it does turn the suspense and creepiness way past 11 if you’re familiar with either Thomas Harris’s books (which the series is based upon) or the films like Silence of the Lambs. I can find few flaws with this show– the acting from every character, even bit parts, is phenomenal and you’ll see cameos played by actors you wouldn’t expect (like comedians Molly Shannon and Eddie Izzard). The unsettling score adds to the story’s eeriness, and the cinematography is utterly brilliant. I finished re-watching the first season last night, and I can’t wait to get to the rest of the series.
And yes, I’m aware of the bizarre juxtaposition of going straight from a children’s television show to a violent and graphic show about serial killers.
About that Writing Thing:
I am continuing to make slow progress through my current Work in Progress. I went from completing a whole three pages the week before to finishing about seven pages this past week. It’s not the sort of progress I was hoping for, but at this point, I’ll take what I can get. I’m hoping that, now that I’m getting to a climactic scene that’s been in my head for a long time, it’ll be off to the races once I actually hit it, and that I’ll be able to finish the first draft the first week of July. But we’ll see what happens. As long as I’m making forward progress, that’s what counts, right? Eventually, I’ll get back to where I was earlier in the year when I could write 10,000 words/week without much of a problem.