Can we be done with summer now? Because I want to be done with summer. For most of the week, we were dealing with a heatwave. That broke on Thursday night when a line of thunderstorms moved through with such high winds that a lot of trees– including half of the one in front of my building– were torn down. The one in front of my building fell across the street and didn’t damage anything (no powerlines, no cars, it didn’t hit my building or the house across the street), but the street was blocked for two days until a lawn company had time to get here and remove it. So now our tree looks scrawny and doesn’t provide as much shade as it used to. I feel sorry for all the squirrels that used to live in that half of the tree.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
We had another storm on Friday night/Saturday morning. There was a lot of thunder and lightning, which scared both the cats. Sidney hid, but Mina hopped up, flopped down on the nightstand, then got up and started to lay down next to my head. Then she decided she’d rather be on the nightstand and went back there. But then she decided to lie down next to my head again, but then decided she wanted to be on the nightstand. Again. At some point, I fell asleep again, so I don’t know where she ended up sleeping.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
The Midnight Sun by Cecilia Ekbäck
The Midnight Sun (also titled The Month of the Midnight Sun) is an odd book. It’s set in 1856 and is ostensibly about a geologist named Magnus and his disgraced sister-in-law Lovisa who are sent to a small town near Blackasen mountain, where three people have been murdered. Everyone believes that one of the native Lapps killed the men, but Magnus wants to find out more. They meet a Lapp woman named Ester, and together they unwind the riddle of the deaths. It’s a compelling book, but a strange one, as the mystery isn’t necessarily the central point of the story– the characters’ personalities and pasts and how they ultimately relate to the reason for the murders is what is important. Once I turned the last page, I closed the book and said, “Huh”. It was a good book as far as the writing and characters go, but it wasn’t enjoyable. But it was very Scandinavian, so if you enjoy Scandinavian noir, give The Midnight Sun a try.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Mirror and the Light (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #3) by Hilary Mantel, audiobook narrated by Ben Miles (76%)
- The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, audiobook narrated by Simon Vance (40%)
- Armistice (The Amberlough Dossier #2) by Lara Elena Donnelly (205/400)
I finally managed to review The Mirror and the Light earlier this week, and I’m loving this reread via audiobook. I prefer Simon Vance’s version of Cromwell over Ben Miles’s, but it’s a manner of degrees. The rest of Miles’s narration is pure brilliance.
I’ve gotten to the point of The Little Stranger where the eerie happenings are starting to happen left and right, and it’s hard to say where there is some supernatural business going on, or whether everything really is in one of the character’s imagination. The narrator, Doctor Faraday, is convinced that it’s a matter of mental illness, but I’m not so sure. But I am hooked and looking forward to getting to the rest of the story.
I am in love with the Amberlough Dossier, and I can’t wait to get through the rest of Armistice. In this book, Lillian DePaul is one of the POV characters, and she is fantastic. I like her so much more than her brother, who did some awful stuff in the first book, and his justification falls flat for me. I really appreciate how smart and sensible Lillian is, and how she’s trying to work everything and everyone around her to try to reach her goal. She’s been dealt a lousy hand, and she’s doing the best she can with what she has. I’m also curious to see where Cordelia and Aristide end up. Their characters have gotten even more interesting since the first book.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- Uncrowned Queen: The Fateful Life of Margaret Beaufort, Tudor Matriarch by Nicola Tallis, ARC provided by NetGalley
- Samarkand by Amin Maalouf, translated from the French by Russell Harris
I know I said I wasn’t going to add anything to my NetGalley queue, but I’m planning to start a Tudor history project here on the blog starting with Margaret Beaufort, and it just so happened that Uncrowned Queen is coming out at the end of July, and this was available as a Read Now title via NetGalley, so that worked out well!
What I’ve Been Watching:
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
I took advantage of Showtime’s free one-week trial to watch the first season of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, which is sort of a spinoff series to Penny Dreadful, a Victorian Gothic series that pulled characters from books like Frankenstein, Dracula, and the horror stories from the penny dreadful stories of the time. City of Angels is more of a film noir story set in 1938 Los Angeles, and deals with the racial tensions between the Latinx community and the police and city council. There are also Nazis, who are making grand plans to quietly take over the US. And because Penny Dreadful‘s showrunner, John Logan, intended these shows as a sort of supernatural/paranormal anthology show, there’s a demon- Magda- who wants to show her sister, Santa Muerte, that humanity is inherently evil and only needs to be told that they can do evil for them to do so.
Though Natalie Dormer is brilliant in her four-fold role (as Magda, Elsa, Rio, and Alex), the supernatural does not play the same sort of role in the new series as it does in the first one. But overall, I loved it. Mostly, it’s a story about a handful of people fighting against the evil within themselves as they fight the greater evil in the world. It’s also eerily relevant to real-world events, as it deals with racial tensions and shows a peaceful protest being artificially stoked to become violent in order for dark ambitions to be fulfilled. I don’t know if City of Angels will be renewed, but I hope it is.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Because Mary at Mary and the Words has been talking it up lately, I borrowed this movie from the library earlier in the week. I enjoy King Arthur stuff, and I like the work of the film’s director, Guy Ritchie, so I gave it a shot. And… It’s fine. The script definitely sounds like a clever Guy Ritchie script and it’s fun to watch Jude Law chew up the scenery. I’d also like to have been a fly on the wall when Katie McGrath’s agent asked her if she’d like to do another King Arthur thing. So fun overall, and I like The Mage’s magic. If it were on Netflix, I’d probably play it again if I wanted some fantasy film in the background, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it. I can see why people like it, but I can also see why it flopped at the box office. It’s a typical Hollywood fantasy with all sorts of CGI spectacle tossed in for the sake of CGI spectacle and badass looking armor that may or may not be practical.
About That Writing Thing:
Y’all, I am finishing the first draft of my current Work in Process tomorrow. Finally. !!! It’s almost a month and a half later than I wanted it to be done, but June was a lousy month for focusing on much of anything, so I’ll take it. Once I finish the final scene, I have to go back and do some revisions: tweaking the first very scene a little, a bit of a rewrite of a major later scene, and then I want to see if I can shorten part of the climactic scene. I think it’s longer than it needs to be, and if I can tighten it up, I think it will be more effective. Then it’s a matter of line edits and pretty-ing up the prose so it flows better, and it will be ready to publish! Right now, there are 32,381 words, and the last little scene is probably going to be about 2,000-3,000. And who knows how many words it will end up being by the time I’m done with the edits, but I’m fairly close to my initial guess of the story being about 30,000 words when all is said and done. Once again, I’ll be posting one part each week, and there are five parts, so my readers will be set for the last week of July and all of August.
I am so happy to be (almost) done with this. It’s been a challenge to write for many reasons, and while the next story will be gigantic, I’m looking forward to tackling it. I’ve been setting up so many plot elements and character arcs, and the next story is where a lot of the set-up will come to fruition. It will also mark a return to my primary Point of View characters, who I’m more comfortable with writing. And one of those main POV characters has a state of mind that’s far more elegant than the others, which makes it more fun to write.
So glad to be done, but also a little nervous. This story is the one that’s changed the most across the life of this series, and because I’m ending what’s become a popular relationship and doing away with a popular character. I hope my readers don’t get their pitchforks and torches out by the time they’re finished reading it.