Sunday Sum-Up: September 6, 2020

  • After a cold and wet spring that turned into a hot dry summer overnight, I had forgotten that Nebraska enjoys temperature jumps during transitional seasons, so one day it will be 92, and the next it will be 77. The closer we get to the autumnal equinox, the wackier the temperature jumps will be. Today, it’s supposed to get up to 100°F (the highest temperature of the year), while on Tuesday it’s supposed to get up to 52°F. Fun times. But it means that when I go hiking in a nearby state park on Wednesday, it will be a perfectly comfortable day.
  • I get my electric bill via email, and when it arrives I get a notification that says, “Your electric bill is now available!”. With an exclamation point. Reader, I am not excited to get my electric bill every month. There is no number of exclamation points you can add that will turn this into a happy-making event.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

All day last Wednesday, my day off, Mina was being a complete teenager. I’d go near her, and she’d either run away or give me a look like, “Mom, I need my space, okay?” or “Jeez, Mom, what are you doing? I don’t want to be seen with you, it’s just not cool”. Very standoffish, very much not wanting to be around me.

But when bedtime rolled around, after I turned out the lights and it was dark, she hopped onto the bed and sniffed at my hands like she was saying, “Mom, it’s kinda dark and it’s cold in the living room. Can I sleep in here with you?”. Of course I made room for her, so she curled up next to me, put her head on my hand, and stayed there all night.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

Amnesty is the final book in Donnelly’s Amberlough Dossier trilogy. In this, we find out how the war has ended, and how our main characters are dealing with the fallout from the events of the past eight years. The answer? Not well. Much of the public has placed the blame for the rise of the fascist Ospies squarely on Cyril’s shoulders, and so many people want to destroy him in order to expiate their own feelings of guilt and shame over their own actions during the war. Meanwhile, Aristide and Lilian are just trying to get back on their feet and keep Cyril from destroying himself. This trilogy is not directly about the war– it’s about the characters and their roles at the edge of the war, and how they deal with the trauma of it all. It’s beautifully written, and I highly recommend it.

The Silvered Serpents is the follow-up to Chokshi’s previous book, The Gilded Wolves, which is a heist novel set in an alternate version of our own world, where there is a magic called Forging, which has allowed people from all over the world to create magical objects of immense power. Our intrepid and diverse band of misfit characters each has their own talent that’s brought them there, creating a tense and interesting dynamic between them all. After the fallout from the events of The Gilded Wolves, they’re trying to recover from their grief, while their leader, Severin, grows more distant as he convinces them to travel to Russia, where he intends to find a mythical book that could grant them incredible powers. I found The Silvered Serpents to be better than The Gilded Wolves thanks to its many twists and turns and historical events. Chokshi weaves in all sorts of details that make everything fit together like clockwork, so even thought I was able to predict much of what was going to happen, seeing things unfold the way I thought they would was fun, and there were plenty of things I didn’t see coming. There will be at least one other book in this series, and I am looking forward to it.

Truthwitch! Wow! A YA fantasy with a Strong Female Character who realizes that she’s behaving like an idiot, and then grows from that to become a productive member of society! Real female friendships where the girls don’t try to tear each other down at some point! Real male friendships! Intelligent politics in a YA fantasy! A romance storyline that doesn’t entirely overwhelm the friendships! Basically, Truthwitch is a YA fantasy that includes a lot of YA tropes, but does them so well that I didn’t mind their inclusion. At the beginning, I kept rolling my eyes whenever Safiya did something impulsive and stupid (because that’s what YA heroines do all too often), but there were consequences, and she ultimately learned that her impulsiveness was hurting other people, and that she needed to start thinking of other people, not just herself. That is tops in my book, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien is a book about the lands of Middle-earth and the possible real world inspirations that Tolkien may have had for them. It doesn’t just include places like Sarehole Mill. Garth pulls stories of the primeval forest that covered most of Europe until the 16th and 17th century, descriptions of lands from Icelandic sagas, and other sources Tolkien would have been familiar with. There are photographs, illustrations, paintings, and plenty of Tolkien’s own illustrations to go along with the text, which is incredibly informative if you’re curious about Tolkien’s inspirations. It took longer to read this book than I thought it would, but it was well worth it.

What I’m Currently Reading:

I’m not very far into The Haunting of H.G. Wells, but so far it is exactly like I expected it. Not beautifully written, but has all the hallmarks of a thriller like Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. It’s been quick to read so far, so I imagine I’ll get through it quickly.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

These are both library books, so I need to get them done soon, before they’re due back. Sure, I could probably renew them, but I’d rather return them on time, as I’m trying to do a bunch of decluttering.

What I’ve Been Watching:

Lucifer (Season 5)
Netflix
TV-14
Starring: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Lesley Ann Brandt, Rachael Harris

I’d been looking forward to the final season of Lucifer ever since I binge-watched the entire series, and then re-watched the fourth season. And then it premiered on August 21, and I didn’t start watching it for some reason. Now that I have, this new season is… fine. I really hope it’s building to something, because so far it’s not a very compelling story arc. But I have four episodes left, so maybe it will take a turn for the best.

What I’ve Been Listening To:

In spite of this last weekend of heat, I am diving headlong into all the Autumn things, including listening to Scandinavian music. It just screams ‘Autumn!’ to me, and makes me think of cooler days (and Iceland). It also goes perfectly with what I’m writing right now, as I’m dealing with Scandinavian/Germanic cultures in the scene I’ve been working on most recently. So Spotify’s ‘Northern Spirits’ playlist is perfect.

9 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: September 6, 2020

  1. I think it’s interesting you enjoyed the sequel, The Silvered Serpents, more than the first book. That doesn’t happen too often with me. That’s a series I would like to try one day. And The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien sounds fascinating, I’d not been aware of that book. For my next Tolkien-related read I’m debating tackling Unfinished Tales or The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Haven’t decided which yet.

  2. I think it helped that in the sequel, Chokshi didn’t have to spend a bunch of time introducing the characters and their personalities or the world and its magic. She could just hit the ground running and get right to the story.

    Worlds of Tolkien is fascinating! Definitely recommend it. That’s a hard choice between Unfinished Tales or The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien…. I’d probably go with the Letters for the sheer entertaininment value you get from so many of them.

  3. New England’s like that with the weather right now–it was 70° and partly cloudy this weekend, just beautiful, and a muggy, gross 78° today. I’m so glad to see you enjoyed Amnesty! I thought it was such a satisfying end, and I really enjoyed that little image of Aristide & Cyril quietly enjoying retirement together.

  4. The weather’s a bit more dramatic here… It was 93 and dry on Sunday, and today it got up to 45, and it’s been raining all day. We had a low key thunderstorm for about three hours. It’s been snowing in the western part of the state, too, after they had weekend temperatures of just below 100.

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