- I got my first Covid vaccination shot last week! At a grocery store, because 2021 is weird like that. I dressed up in my (mildly) frilly Steampunk-esque skirt and Edwardian replica shoes and hairstyle. It was glorious. One step closer to something like normal! I’m scheduled to get my second shot in a little under three weeks.
- My friend T talked me into trying kombucha. I will admit that the idea of a fermented vinegary-tea-like-thing beverage turned me off of it a bit, so I was leery of trying it. Now that I have. . . It’s fine. I got a hibiscus ginger-flavored kombucha at the grocery store the other day. It’s very gingery and very fizzy, and overall just fine. Nothing I’d go out of the way to get, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it, either.
- Yesterday was a gorgeous day, so after I work I headed downtown for takeout (a sweet chili tofu rice bowl with Thai iced tea), wandered over the university campus to eat at one of the random picnic benches, and photographed some of the flowers that were blooming. Spring is slow to actually appear here, so it was nice to see some color at last.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
I’m pretty sure that all cats do this, but about five minutes after I’ve given her treats, Mina goes back into the kitchen and gives me this judgy look while she waits for me to give her more treats.
She doesn’t get more treats, but she never gives up hope that she will.
She never stops giving me the judgy look, either.
But after about ten minutes of no treats, she finally gives up and goes back to playing or napping or whatever else is on her very packed daily schedule.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Shaping of Middle-earth (The History of Middle-earth #4) by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
- One Corpse Too Many (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #2) by Ellis Peters, audiobook narrated by Patrick Tull
- The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, audiobook narrated by Janina Edwards
- The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts that Illuminated the Renaissance by Ross King, ARC provided by NetGalley
The Shaping of Middle-earth is, basically, a series of early drafts of The Silmarillion, so it largely felt like yet another rehashing of the stories of Túrin Turambar and Beren and Lúthien. On the bright side, we get to see a few drafts of the story of Earendil the Mariner, which is always fantastic. While that story was the very first one that Tolkien ever invented for Middle-earth (it was inspired by a single line of Anglo-Saxon poetry around 1915), it is the least-developed of the foundational legends of The Silmarillion. I think the next book in the series, The Lost Road and Other Writings, deals with different stories– particularly the time travel story Tolkien began, but never finished.
One Corpse Too Many is the second of the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, and deals with the aftermath of a failed rebellion against King Stephen’s authority. Shrovesbury Castle is taken by Stephen, and the ninety-four men who led the rebellion are executed. The monastery’s monks are tasked with burying the bodies that aren’t claimed by their families, and Brother Cadfael discovers that there are ninety-five bodies. His sense of justice will not allow this man’s death to go uninvestigated. This was just as clever and engaging as the first one, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
The Dark Fantastic is a discussion of Black female characters in pop culture, and how racism plays a role in defining what the characters do, how they are portrayed, and what sorts of endings they get (hint: it’s not a happy ending). Thomas discusses three characters in depth: Rue from The Hunger Games, Gwen from BBC’s Merlin, and Bonnie from The Vampire Diaries. She also discusses the character of Angelina from the Harry Potter series, and how her love of this side character took her into the Potter fandom, and how it led to controversy and eventually being kicked out of a fan-space she had helped to found. This was a fascinating look at Black girls and women in media, and made me stop and think about how I think about Black characters in media. Definitely an eye-opening book, and one I highly recommend.
The Bookseller of Florence is a history of books and manuscripts, how they were made from antiquity to the Renaissance, and how they were bought, sold, traded, and stolen around Europe and into the Muslim world right up to the end of the fifteenth century. It uses the life of Vespasiano da Bisticci as an anchor point, giving us details into his life while providing a sprawling history of books and their making. This was a fascinating and very dense story, and I was glad that I have a solid grounding in the history of Renaissance Italy and a basic foundation in Classical works, because Ross King references so many writers, emperors, artists, and other historical figures that I would have had to have spent ages looking them up if I were unfamiliar with the time period. Still, it was a fascinating book, but a little more on the academic side. If you have only a passing familiarity with the Renaissance in Florence, the people and events referenced might be a little overwhelming. I’ll have a more in-depth review later on this week.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers #4) by Becky Chambers, ARC provided by NetGalley (33%)
- Deathless (Leningrad Diptych #1) by Catherynne M. Valente (59/352)
After taking what felt like ages to get through the dense Bookseller of Florence, I am flying through The Galaxy, and the Ground Within. It’s a fun and kind and thoughtful as the other books in the Wayfarers series, and while there isn’t a huge amount of plot, the notion of a group of vastly different people actually sitting down, listening to each other, and figuring out how to solve their problems by cooperating is so, so refreshing. I’ll be finishing this in the next couple of days because whenever I pick it up, I don’t want to put it down.
Deathless is based upon Russian folklore and takes place some time after the Bolshevik Revolution. It’s beautifully written in the lyrical way that Valente’s books always are, but I’m not far enough into it to have much of an opinion of it. I started this about a week ago, but after flying through the first sixty or so pages, I haven’t had a chance to pick it up again.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds by Jon Dunn, ARC provided by NetGalley
The Glitter in the Green is the next in the flock of ARCs I have that are coming out in the next six weeks or so. I’ve read the first few pages, and the writing is beautiful, so I’m sure I will have a great time with this book. I know very little about hummingbirds, but I want to learn more.
What I’ve Been Watching:
Starring: Thaddea Graham, McKell David, Jojo Macari, Harrison Osterfeld, Darci Shaw
The Irregulars is based on the Baker Street Irregulars, the homeless and other vagabondish figures who performed tasks and ferreted out information for Sherlock Holmes. In the show, a group of impoverished teenagers living together on the streets of London come into contact with one Doctor Watson, who hires them to find out who is kidnapping newborn babies from their cradles. As they investigate that and other mysteries, sisters Bea and Jessie find that the story of their lives is not as simple as they thought it was.
Overall I enjoyed this series, though it wasn’t quite as deep as I would like it to be. Though, when you have something like Showtime’s Penny Dreadful that you’re comparing it too, most shows are going to come up short. The script is very modern and so is the soundtrack, so that is a little jarring at first. But I got used to it after the second episode or so, and ended up watching the second half of the series on my day off. Is it my favorite Sherlock Holmes retelling? No. Is it my favorite Victorian-era TV show? No. Would I watch another season? Yes, I would. It knew exactly what sort of show it was, and while it had a very YA feeling to it, it didn’t indulge in some of the worst tropes that too often show up in YA stories.
I finished the third pillowcase! I finished all the felling on my day off, ironed it, and put it on the pillow. So now all three of my pillows have nice linen cases. Huzzah! They are wonderfully soft, and I definitely prefer them to the old cotton ones.
And now it’s onto the next project, which I’ve already made a start on: a remake of the Frode Shawl that I made (and messed-up) last Fall. I bought a few skeins of a beautiful purple wool from KnitPicks.com. It’s nice and soft (for wool), and makes for easy crocheting– especially since the last yarn I worked with was super textured, which made it hard to keep track of stitches. This wool is not particularly textured, so keeping track of stitches and rows is much easier. As this is a pretty quick project, I don’t anticipate it taking very long to complete.
About That Writing Thing:
I finished Chapter 8 of my current work in progress and got a healthy start on Chapter 9 before I decided I wanted to add another short scene to the end of Chapter 8. I’ll try to write that today, and then get back to Chapter 9. When I have time to sit down at write, it’s going pretty smoothly, and I’m discovering all sorts of little details about this story that I’ve had planned out for a long time. I’m hoping to make significant progress on this story this month. I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish it, but I want to get as close to it as possible.
Wish me luck!