Sunday Sum-Up: October 17, 2021

I had thought this week was going to be stressful because we were understaffed all week at work due to some vacations, but it turned out to be okay. Which was great. I was relieved when each working day went by and it was just busy enough to make the time pass without making me want to pull my hair out and scream at people.

I got my flu shot on Monday. I get it every year and think nothing of it, but this year it decided to give me a good kick. My arm was sore for a day and a half, and then I felt a little ‘meh’ on Wednesday. Nothing bad, just ‘meh’. Kind of tired, with a sore throat. I went to bed a little earlier than usual and woke up feeling much better the next morning.

This week was also a pretty good week for photographs, thanks to some great clouds and an unexpected visit from some raccoon friends:

After work on Thursday, I ran a couple of errands and went home. I was walking from my car to the building when I noticed something furry sniffing at the crackers my neighbor leaves out for the squirrels and birds. I thought it was a cat at first, but then I noticed their size and the black mask across its face. A raccoon! It seemed to be mostly grown, and while it scuttled a few feet away when it noticed me, the allure of the crackers was too strong to deny, and when I proved to be not particularly threatening, it went back to eating. I carefully got my camera out, but it into silent mode, and started snapping away. A couple of minutes later, another raccoon poked its head out from under my neighbor’s car, decided I wasn’t anything to worry about, and started snacking on the crackers, too.

I assume they were siblings who just haven’t parted ways yet, because aside from a couple of hisses when one reached for a peanut the other wanted, they were quite civil to each other.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

Temperatures have dipped into the upper 30s°F at night, and so our steam heating system has turned on. I also opened up my new space heater (Mina knocked over the last one and broke it) to make sure it works (it does). So the cats have been searching for their favorite winter napping spots. Sidney has always shown a preference for hanging out right next to the radiator in the studio, while Mina’s spot moves around. She has taken to curling up inside of her scratching tunnel. She fits perfectly, and it gives her a good view of what’s going on in the living room. Whether or not she’ll settle on this for her winter spot, she’s pretty cute when she curls up inside with her tail over her nose while she watches me read.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

Monstrous Tales is a collection of fairytales from around the world, taken from various public domain sources and beautifully illustrated by Sija Hong. I wish there had been more stories from Asia, Africa, and the Americas, but I was fine with even the western European stories that were included, as they were tales I’d never read before- even the Irish and Scottish ones. So if you enjoy fairytales, I highly recommend this book. The stories are wonderfully told and were truly from around the world. Sjia Hong’s illustrations are worth it, too.

Black Mould is the third of the Rivers of London graphic novels, and it was fine. Peter Grant and Sahra Guleen discover a supernatural mould that is infesting certain flats in London, and to get rid of it for good, they have to find the source and deal with it. The story was fine, but nothing particularly fascinating. The art, too, was fine, but not my favorite.

I finished The Iron Wyrm affair, and my rating did not change from 2013. It’s an entertaining story, but it moves a little too fast at times. The worldbuilding is scant and would have benefitted from even an extra sentence or paragraph of explanation here and there. I also have to wonder why Saintcrow chose to change the spellings of certain London locales. Did she intend to emphasize the difference between her magical Londinium and the real London? It’s not as though the reader would have imagined this to be a true story, what with the magic and various Steampunk elements. But whatever. I was entertained enough to read the whole book, but I won’t be continuing the series.

Did Not Finish:

  • The Hanged Man (Her Majesty’s Psychic Service #1) by P.N. Elrod

The premise of this book sounded fun: Alexandrina, a young woman with psychic abilities is called upon to help solve murders, but on one stormy night, she is called to a crime scene, and discovers too late that she knows the victim. This complicates matters, and all too soon Alex finds herself in the midst of a dark conspiracy that threatens Queen Victoria herself. But around 70 pages in, I realized that I didn’t care about anything that was going on, so I decided to stop reading it and move on.

What I’m Currently Reading:

At the beginning of October, I had checked out a bunch of the Rivers of London graphic novels, and could download the final two audiobooks of the main series from the library. I was looking forward to finishing up the series. And then, in the middle of this week, my brain up and decided to abandon the series and look into a bunch of Gothic novels. Because it’s spooky season. But because it’s spooky season, the ones I wanted to check out from the library were already out. So now I’m waiting for them, and probably won’t get them until November. Oh, well. November can be a pretty spooky month, too.

The Lost Apothecary is a novel that takes place in two time periods– in contemporary London and in 1791. The historical era tells the story of Nella, a female apothecary who caters to a particular kind of clientele- women trying to escape abusive men, whose best option is well-disguised poison. But a mistake made by a precocious new client leads to a chain of consequences no one can predict. Meanwhile, in modern London, Caroline Parcewell is an aspiring historian with a marriage in tatters. After taking up mudlarking on a whim, she finds a clue to a series of unresolved murders that will bring her closer to the past than she ever imagined. I’m not terribly far into this book, but so far it’s interesting and I’m looking forward to getting farther into it.

I’ve been wanting to reread The Goblin Emperor for a while now, and after watching part of a disappointing YouTube round-table discussion on The Goblin Emperor where it felt like they were all missing the point of the book, I downloaded it from the library and started listening again. One of the things the commentators on the video said was that they hardly saw any politics in the story. Just a lot of fashion and manners. What this commentator failed to notice is that fashion and manners– especially at the upper echelons of an imperial court– are all political. The fashions that people adhere to often convey which political faction they’re associated with. For example, in the early 1530s, the women of Henry VIII’s court might wear a gable hood to show their loyalty to Catherine of Aragon, while other women would wear a French hood to show they were closer in allegiance to Anne Boleyn. Political fashion. But anyway. I adore this book, and Kyle McCarley’s narration is wonderful. Every time I start listening, I just want to keep going. In this first third of the book, Maia is desperately trying to learn the ins and outs of the imperial court, even as he in convinced that he is hopelessly ignorant, and is terribly worried that his dark, half-goblin appearance makes him ugly in the eyes of the courtiers. I just want to hug the poor kid and tell him he’s doing fine, but that’s something he has to learn for himself. I’ll probably finish this up in the next couple of days.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

I’ve been planning to read Villette in October for quite some time, and it just so happens that another round of Tome Topple is starting up on the eighteenth, and goes through the end of the month. Villette is more than five-hundred pages long, so it qualifies. I’m looking forward to this, as I love Jane Eyre, also by Charlotte Brontë, and I’ve heard that Brontë is at her best in Villette.

I picked up London’s Shadows at the used bookstore recently. It feels like a properly spooky read, as it’s all about the underworld of Victorian London, and it doesn’t feel like there are many things that are spookier than that.

Also, October is also Victober, which is a monthlong readalong-type-thing dedicated to Victorian literature. While Villette is Victorian literature, London’s Shadows is not. But it’s about Victorian London, so it’s close enough.

9 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: October 17, 2021

  1. Sounds like a fun experience with the raccoons. And if The Goblin Emperor is worth a reread by you then it must be worth at least a first attempt by me. One day! 🙂

  2. Oh, you’ve reminded me that I need to reread Villette! As I’ve wanted to do for years. It’s just so long, I never seem to get around to it!

    Also, those raccoon pictures are amazing! It’s incredible that they let you stand there and photograph them. They must know they’re cute!

  3. The fact that you want to reread it makes me happy, because it means you liked it!

    It helped that there was a lot of food for the raccoons, and that I was just kneeling there, making no moves toward them. They started out a little skittish, but calmed down when they decided I wasn’t going to bother them. It was a great experience!

  4. It was so fun to be able to just sit there and watch the raccoons for a while! They were adorable, and young enough that they didn’t get aggressive. We just kept an eye on each other and called it good.

    I love The Goblin Emperor! Maia’s journey is just lovely, and I always want to sit him down with a good cup of tea and some cupcakes and tell him he’s doing fine and that he’ll learn everything he needs to know, just to be patient with himself. Definitely give it a try someday!

  5. Inspired by you, I started it last night! But I only just finished the editor’s introduction. But it’s a start!

    It’s always exciting for me to see a raccoon because they don’t come out very often when I’m around!

  6. Those raccoon pictures are amazing! And Mina is as adorable as always. I just listened to The Goblin Emperor audiobook earlier this year (a re-read, leading up to the release of Witness for the Dead), and I adored it. The book itself is so amazing, and I loved the narrator (and got a thrill just from hearing all the names and titles spoken out loud). I also spent a lot of time just wanting to hug Maia. 🙂 Getting my flu shot this week, and since I usually end up sore and achy for a couple of days after, I’m kind of dreading it — but better health prevention wins out over temporary discomfort…

  7. I love all the names and how McCarley pronounces them like he lives there with them. He’s so good! The Goblin Emperor’s audiobook is one that I could just turn around and listen to all over again. I love this book.

    Good luck with the flu shot! I hope it doesn’t make you feel gross. And you’re so right– better a bit of prevention and feeling blah for a bit than getting terribly sick later on.

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