It’s been a cold week around here. And snowy. We got more snow. Because we needed that. And we had temperatures that dipped into subzero ranges (Fahrenheit, so super brrr…). Thanks to my black wool coat, Irish wool hat, scarf, and boots, I’ve been looking rather like a Dickensian waif walking around. Fun times. What’s less fun is the amount of vacumming I’ve doing at home thanks to all the salt and ice melt I’ve been dragging in on my shoes.
The next few days are supposed to be even colder (like lows of -20°F), so I’m going to be spending even more time indoors, curled up under a blanket with a book or writing. And baking. Lots of baking.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
Both the cats have spent most of the week curled up on their respective beds next to the radiators. The rest of the apartment has been rather chilly, thanks to the low temperatures outside. The radiators do their best, but it’s hard to keep up when it’s -15°F outside. Hence the beds by the heat sources. But in the middle of the night, Mina will hop onto the bed and curl up next to my head, so when I invariably wake up at 3:00 AM, she’ll be right next to me. It’s super sweet.
Sidney, on the other hand, will go to bed in the studio. But between 7:00 and 7:20 in the morning, he will walk into the bedroom and loudly declare his unhappiness with the general state of affairs. I think he’s grouchy that the sun is coming up and making things bright again (I agree with the sentiment, Sidney. I whole-heartedly agree). Once he has made his dissatisfaction known, he marches back to the living room and flops down onto the floor for another nap.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Bloodwitch (The Witchlands #3) by Susan Dennard, audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell
- Sister Light, Sister Dark (Great Alta #1) by Jane Yolen
Bloodwitch took a long time to get through compared to the first two Witchlands books (Truthwitch and Windwitch). I think it was to do with the “everything is going horribly wrong for everyone and everyone thinks they’re useless and that their efforts are a waste of time” line that went throughout the book. It was frustrating, even though I could see where they were all coming from. They really were having a hard time with the events that were going on, and all forces were arrayed against them. But a whole book of that does get tiresome. Still, I finished the book and I’m looking forward too the next book in the series. It comes out in June. Got a bit of a wait ahead of me.
I downloaded Sister Light, Sister Dark on a very quiet day at work because it was a fairly short book and because I’m wanting to read more fantasy novels by women– particularly books that have been out for a while, instead of focusing primarily on current releases. I hadn’t read a Jane Yolen novel in years, so it was interesting to dive back into her work. Sister Light, Sister Dark is an odd story. On the surface, it’s about a group of warrior women devoted to the great goddess Alta– and particularly about a girl named Jenna, who was thrice orphaned before she could crawl. There is a great destiny before her, but it means there will be cataclysmic changes to her world. This fact frightens people around her, and they try to deny who Jenna really is. But. There is another layer to the story– interspersed with Jenna’s story are songs, poems, and what appears to be a commentary on historical findings that relate to the religious group that Jenna belongs to. Except the historians commenting on Jenna’s world don’t know the entire story and so are theorizing on it, while the primary writer of the text is criticizing the other historians and he (it’s obviously a he) is extremely dismissive when the other historians suggest that the Alta cult is stronger and more war-like than his prejudices allow for. Sister Light, Sister Dark provides a sort of metatextual look at history, the way that we perceive it, and how the reality of it was invariably different from how it is perceived by those of us looking back across centuries, who are regarding the past through the lens of our own reality. It was a fascinating book. I will probably continue the trilogy sometime.
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (134/864)
- Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang (176/384)
- If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin, audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin (25%)
I am not nearly as far into The Luminaries as I would like to be, mostly because I keep picking it up around 11:30 at night, when I’m already tired. After twenty pages, I’m falling asleep. This is not due to the book being boring. The book is incredibly interesting. But at the end of the day I’m tired and it’s cold out, and that makes me extra sleepy. I plan to put aside an hour or so this afternoon to devote to this book, because what I have read is incredible, and there are already so many mysteries I want to find the answers to.
Opium and Absinthe is a compelling story that is about more than a young woman searching for her sister’s killer. Tillie Pembroke is not the lady her domineering grandmother hoped she would be. Tillie is a clever girl who always wants to know more about everything, and she doesn’t care that she doesn’t live up to her society’s expectations. Until her seemingly perfect older sister Lucy is murdered by what appears to be a vampire. When the police aren’t willing to look into Lucy’s death, Tillie decides to investigate on her own. But she has several factors working against her: her grandmother is keeping her a virtual prisoner in their mansion, the people around her report everything she does to her mother or grandmother, and a recent injury and her subsequent opium prescription and nascent addiction are beginning to warp her sense of reality. There have been a few plot points I saw coming, but I’m not bothered by that at all because the main things are still a mystery, namely, are there really vampires in this world, or is Tillie’s sense of things horribly skewed by the opium that some in her circle are all too willing to provide?
I’ve been meaning to read James Baldwin’s work for some time, and since it’s Black History Month, and because the audiobooks were actually available through the Libby app, I downloaded If Beale Street Could Talk. I’m about 25% of the way through, and it is amazing so far. At times it’s rough and earthy in its storytelling while other times it shimmers with life and beauty. It’s the story of a young woman named Tish whose fiance, Fonny, is imprisoned for a terrible crime he did not commit. As the book opens, Tish has gone to visit Fonny in prison to tell him she is pregnant with their child. Tish and her family are determined to fight for Fonny’s freedom, as well as to raise the child with all the love and care that they can give it. This is a lovely story about a Black family dealing not only with everyday family issues, but with the darker issues of racism in late twentieth century America.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
- The Councillor by E.J. Beaton, ARC provided by NetGalley
The Wolf in the Whale is a fantasy novel about the meeting of the Inuit people of northern Canada and Norse explorers around the year 1000. Yes, it’s set in a cold environment, and yes it’s very cold outside, but it’s Norse and Inuit stories clashing and what could be more fascinating?
The Councillor is a fantasy crossed with a political thriller about a scholar tasked with choosing the next ruler after the queen is assassinated. But the scholar, Lysande, has an addiction that is slowly overcoming her and now that she’s had a taste of the kind of power that dwells in the upper echelons of her society, she may not want to let that power go. This is an upcoming release due out at the beginning of March.
I’ve been working on my fuzzy blanket on and off this week and I haven’t had to unravel any rows! Hooray! I’m getting better at working with this super textured yarn, and have been a lot better about keeping track of my stitches, so the making of it has been going much more smoothly. I’m nearly finished with the third skein and will soon be moving onto the fourth skein. Still a long way to go, but work is continuing.
About That Writing Thing:
I need to do one last round of line edits before I post Short Story #1 to my Archive of Our Own account, but that shouldn’t take long as it’s, you know, a short story. So it’s short. I’m looking forward to getting it posted, as it’ll be the first thing I’ve completed for my main series since August. Back then, I wanted to have my main work in progress complete by the end of 2020, but that didn’t happen. Not even close. So I’ll be posting a few short stories to tide my readers over until I finish the main story (hopefully) in the spring. I finished Chapter 6 of the main story this week, so it’s on to Chapter 7 this week. Progress!