Sunday Sum-Up: January 31, 2021

We got so much snow!

A snowstorm came through on Monday. It started snowing around 4:00 or 5:00AM, and it continued snowing heavily until about 11:00 that night. I went to work for a whole three hours before we closed up and went home, and it took me twice as along to get here as it usually does. Fun times. We ended up getting 14.5″, which is the second snowiest day on record for this little city. Fortunately, the road crews were able to clear the main roads overnight, and while the residential streets were hard to drive on for the next couple of days, things were pretty much back to normal by Wednesday. We might be in for some more ice and a bit of snow this weekend, but a bit of a warm-up is forecast for this week.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

I can’t tell if Mina is sick of my being here so much this week or not. I was home most of the day on Monday, worked on Tuesday, was home again on Wednesday, and then took Saturday off because why not? So I’ve been home for and extra two days this week, and I’m sure she’s not able to nap in her normal places because I’ve been at home, sitting on the chair or the couch or doing stuff in the kitchen or whatnot, and otherwise getting in the way of her normal routine.

But she has been getting extra scritchies and extra treats, so she doesn’t have that much to complain about.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

More Murderbot! I listened to the entirety of Exit Strategy in a single afternoon, mostly while going on a wintry afternoon walk through my neighborhood. I love Murderbot’s commentary even more in this one, because it’s dealing with characters from the first story once again, as well as expanding upon the nascent culture of the various kinds of artificial intelligence that exist in the universe. And it’s funny as usual, and so interesting to see how Murderbot is beginning to understand that it really is free and a functional (mostly) member of society. Even if it doesn’t really want to be a member of society. Because humans are weird, and they shouldn’t be left to deal with their own security.

Flyaway was an odd little story with other, smaller stories wrapped up within it. As an introduction to Australian Gothic, it works quite well, though I think that if I want to delve deeper into the subgenre, I’d want to read something that has a longer narrative arc, as the smaller stories didn’t seem to have much to do with the main story. But it’s not a long book, and the side stories didn’t distract from the main story, setting, or atmosphere, so they didn’t bother me. Overall, a weird and eerie story, and I recommend if for fans of Gothic literature.

Ring Shout is another small masterpiece from P. Djèlí Clark. D.W. Griffith’s racist film, Birth of a Nation is back in theaters nationwide in 1922, spreading its brand of hatred throughout the country. Thanks to that, the Ku Klux Klan is spreading. In Macon, Georgia, Maryse Boudreaux and a band of her fellow Black or Native American women are fighting the creatures spawned by the KKK, as the hatred that some of the group’s followers have leaves them open to a demonic transformation. And those transformations have helped to open the gate for even greater evils. With few weapons left to face this growing threat, Maryse has to dig deep and face the horrors of the past if she wants to survive and help her people. Ring Shout draws on Black culture of the early 1900s, as well as that of the Gullah and Creole groups that developed in the American South. I was pulled right into the story from the first page to the last, and gave it a rare 5-star rating. This is a story I would recommend to everyone.

You know when you hear a few people praising a thing so very much for so often that it actually makes you want to avoid the book because you’re sick of hearing its praises? That’s what happened with me and This is How You Lost the Time War, as I’d seen a handful of people overpraise it on Bookstagram and I got sick of hearing about it. To the point where I would skip right over their posts and stories. But that was a while ago, and because it was available through my library through the Libby app, I went ahead and downloaded it on Tuesday while it was super quiet at work thanks to the snow. And I have to say, the praise was well-deserved. This was another rare 5-star book for me. It’s about two agents on opposing sides of a time war who start to write mocking letters to each other throughout time, and end up falling in love with each other. But the leaders of their factions are nearly omniscient, and so it’s difficult for them to continue their communications without getting caught. But because neither wants to give up on the relationship, they continue it in spite of the dangers. And because this is a story where the characters are jumping through time, nothing about the narrative is as straightforward as it seems. The character work is incredible, the nature of the time war is fascinating without being bogged down by technicalities, and the prose is beautiful. I definitely recommend this one, too.

What I’m Currently Reading:

I’m barely into most of these, but I wanted to get started on all of them because I just wanted to. So I did. I do need to finish Queens of the Crusades soon, as I have a review coming due in a little over a week. So far, so good. I’m getting a refresher on the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the first part of the book. I’ve read Weir’s biography of Eleanor before, so I’m relatively familiar with her life. But the rest of the women discussed in the book are unknown to me, so it will be great to learn about them. The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two is the next part of The History of Middle-earth, and it started out with an early version of the tale of Beren and Lúthien, so I’m right at home with the story already. Bloodwitch is the third of Susan Dennard’s Witchlands stories, which is a YA fantasy that I’ve been enjoying all the way through. Dennard is throwing in some twists I didn’t expect and have been fantastic so far. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next, and then it’ll be a long wait until the next book comes out in June.

I’m planning to finish The 99% Invisible City later today, if only so I will have completed the ridiculous number of twenty books in January. It’s an excellent look at the various designs that go into buildings, roads, infrastructure, and all the other aspects of city design that are critical to keeping cities together, and I’m reading the entire book with the author, Roman Mars’s voice in my head. Which does slow me down a lot, as I usually don’t sub-vocalize when I read. But that’s okay. I’ve been listening to Mars’s podcast, 99% Invisible, for a long time, so having that voice in my head while reading this book is fun.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

Nothing. I already have plenty to read without starting something else.

The Craft:

Okay. Once I am done with the blanket I’m working on, I’m done with fluffy yarn. It’s fun to look at and the colors are gorgeous, but it’s so annoying to work with. I had to pull another several rows out because it’s hard to see where the stitches go. And I also apparently can’t count to 65. On the bright side, I started on the third skein of yarn, so there has been definite progress this week. Yay!

About That Writing Thing:

I finished the first draft of the first of two short stories that go along with my main work in progress, and I’m about halfway through the first draft of the second story. I’m hoping to finish the second short story this weekend, and get the both edited this week. Then it’s back to the main WIP. I’m thinking of a tentative posting date for it, because if I give myself a deadline, I tend to work harder on the stories instead of just putting off work on it until tomorrow. Given where I am in the overall narrative, though, I don’t quite know what a realistic date is. So I’ll keep thinking about it. Hopefully that date will be sooner, rather than later.

Photo by Kyle Roxas on Pexels.com

13 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: January 31, 2021

  1. Lol! That’s my experience with This is How You Lost the Time War so far: I’ve been avoiding it. I think I’ll eventually pick it up though.
    14.5 inches?! Wow! I think we got 4ins here and started to freak out and shut down everything, lol. I’ve been admiring the snow from my window all day. I do love looking at it, but I hope it melts before I have to go outside.

  2. 14.5 inches! Wow, and we complain around here when we get a couple. 🙂 I can’t wait to read the next Murderbot story (I’m up to the first novel). And I’m glad to read your experiences with Ring Shout, I’d like to read that one.

  3. Those first couple of days were a pain while they got the streets cleared up, but now it’s easy to admire it! Especially this morning, because we got some lovely hoarsfrost. Definitely read the Time War book!

  4. It generally takes a lot of snow for us to shut things down. We normally get 3-4″ of snow at a time, so 14 was so much! It’s pretty now that the streets are clear. I hope it’s more pretty for you and less of a pain to deal with!

  5. Gorgeous photos! We got 8″ of snow in the same storm, so thanks for taking the brunt of it for me! XD That said, we have about 3′ of snow on the ground by this point. This is what happens when it snows every 3 days or so and we get from 4-8″ of snow each time. It’s gotten to the point where Kurosh, our dog, doesn’t even want to run through the fields anymore. That’s how you know we have too much snow. 😉

    I am officially going to pick This Is How You Lose the Time War for my next SFF Book Club pick. Like you, I passed over every review I saw because I was soooo over it. And I have a bad relationship with hyped books. I tend to always hate them… My guess is this will be different for me. Heck, it was different with Murderbot whom we all love. And I trust your recommendations.

  6. Thanks! We have another 3-5″ expected this weekend, plus subzero lows. Fortunately, there were a couple of warm days that melted some of the snow. Still plenty out there, though.

    I hope you enjoy Time War! It’s such a lovely book! I’m glad I got over my aversion and finally picked it up.

  7. Yeah. Our next week is all single digit and below zero highs. Yuck. But, this is part of living in the upper Midwest. There’s always at least one week in February where everything is below zero and at least one significant snow in both April and May. You learn to adapt. and apparently to take some awesome photos!

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