Sunday Sum-Up: October 23, 2021

Last week I was. . . what do we call it again?

Busy. That’s what it was. I was busy. I went out and did things. With people.


Granted, there was work involved. We weren’t just out wandering about. But it was bookish. On my day off, I went to the used bookshop well before they opened to photograph their selection of rare, first edition, and signed books for their online catalog, and then after work on Friday I helped my friend, an elementary school librarian, set up the annual book fair in her school library.

So I saw people whose company I enjoy, in a bookish setting, and we did stuff with books. All in all, a good busy week.

In other autumnal news, the leaves are finally starting to turn in earnest, and while we don’t get the brightly colored trees that they get in New England or in aspen groves, it’s still nice to see even our duller reds and yellows. We also (finally) had our first frost of the year.

It’s getting colder out, and I am all for it.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

I can’t leave laundry out. At all. It will become a cat bed, otherwise.

Take these jeans, for example. I had laid them out on the bed to fold them, and I hadn’t even pulled my hands away before Mina was investigating them. I turned away for a second, and when I looked back, she was already curled up on my freshly laundered and pressed jeans.

The same thing happens when I set down a basket of clothes that are freshly out of the drier. She appears out of nowhere and curls up on the warm clothes.

It’s a good think I wear mostly black, otherwise I would need all the lint rollers.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

I wrote a review of The Goblin Emperor earlier this week. You can click the link if you want to see me praise it again, but suffice it to say that I adore this book, and I will be reading it again in the future.

Rogue Elements was an unexpected read for this week. I’d had it on hold from the library for several weeks, and I didn’t expect it to show up anytime soon. But one morning I got an email that it had arrived, so here we are! I’ve been a Trekkie for as long as I can remember, and I’ve particularly enjoyed the newest two live action series (Discovery and Picard), and because Cristobal Rios was one of my favorite characters in Picard, I couldn’t resist. Rogue Elements tells the story of how Cris ended up with his ship, La Sirena after he left Starfleet after the incident on the ibn Majid. The author, John Jackson Miller, started writing the book in the midst of the first Covid lockdowns. He decided he wanted a book that would be madcap fun and give the audience a bit of an escape from the grim reality. And that’s what this book is- a series of heists and daring escapes featuring the Iotians, a race first encountered in the original series (with Kirk and Spock). The Iotians got a book about Chicago gangsters in the 1920s, and ended up basing the majority of their culture on it. Thus, many of the characters in Rogue Elements dress, talk, and behave like characters out of a mob movie based on the 1920s. It’s a little surreal. But there are plenty of Star Trek races, like Klingons and Ferengi, to keep things grounded in the familiar universe of Trek. I had a lot of fun reading this book– enough so that I borrowed the first season of Picard from the library so I could watch it again.

Ghost Wall was another small surprise, courtesy of the library. I was on the waiting list for it, too, and I didn’t think I would see it until November. But suddenly it was available from Libby, so I downloaded it and started listening as soon as possible. It’s a short book (the audiobook is just under four hours), but Moss packs a lot into it. It’s about a sixteen-year old girl, Silvie, whose tyrannical father has dragged her and her mother to a two-week Iron Age reenactment project headed by an archaeology professor who has brought a few of his students along as part of a class project. Silvie’s father is obsessed with Pre-Roman Britain and has an idea in his head that that was a time when life was somehow purer and, perhaps most importantly to him, more white. Outwardly, Silvie goes along with this, but inwardly she wants to point out the problems of Iron Age living– no antibiotics or vaccines meant people often died young, for example. She also wants to enjoy the simple comforts of modern life, like going to coffee shops and seeing movies. On this re-enactment trip, Silvie is something of an expert thanks to her father’s often brutal teachings, but being with a feminist and thoroughly modern young woman wakes Silvie up to notions and feelings she’s never encountered before. But things comes to a head when her father and the professor decide to build a ghost wall– a symbolic fort thought to be a last-ditch attempt to keep enemies out– for when a ghost fort is build, there is always a sacrifice.

The Lost Apothecary is Sarah Penner’s debut novel. It’s a story set in London in two time periods- 1791 and today. Caroline’s trip to London was meant to have been spent with her husband as they celebrated their tenth anniversary, but when she makes a shocking discovery about him, she goes by herself. On a whim, Caroline goes mudlarking with a group and finds a peculiar glass vial in the Thames mud. Her curiosity piqued, she starts to investigate the vial’s history, and begins to unravel a two-hundred year old mystery, which involes Nella and twelve-year old Eliza. Nella is the aging woman who runs a peculiar apothecary that caters only to women, providing them with remedies for women’s ailments and, when they’re in dire need, provides subtle poisons to kill the abusive men in their lives. Eliza comes into Nella’s life when she is sent to fetch a poison for her mistress’s philandering husband. What neither of them knows is that a tiny mistake by Eliza could spell doom for Nella, the apothecary, and all the women who have come to her for her peculiar services. I thought this book was a solid debut novel, and while there were some issues with the pacing and certain problems were wrapped up a little too neatly in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of the book, and how Penner was clearly fascinated by the time period she was researching. I hope Penner writes more historical novels, because if this is her starting point, I’m excited to see how she’ll improve.

What I’m Currently Reading:

TBR, shmee-BR.

The library and NetGalley are conspiring to prevent me from reading the books I’d been planning to read in the second half of October.


But oh, well. I’m not going to complain about getting three books about Tolkien on the same day via inter-library loan, and I’ll only grumble a little about how long it took the publishers to approve my requests for two ARCs. And one in particular.

I’ve barely begun Jade Legacy, but it started off with a bang. The No Peak Clan is not in a good place thanks to the machinations of the Mountain Clan, but while things are looking dire, I have faith that the Kaul family will find a way through their problems. I hope they do, anyway. I like them, even if they are ruthless criminals. They’re part of a society they didn’t build, and they’re trying to find a way to maintain it in the face of radical change, both within Kekon and without.

I’ve had Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead on my TBR since OLga Tokarczuk won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature. I was looking through my tags in Libby, and with a runtime of about twelve hours, it looked short enough to deal with in light of all the books I have on my literary plate right now. It’s about an aging Polish woman, Janina, who looks after her neighbors’ houses while they are away for the winter. But one cold night, one of them dies unexpectedly– and strangely. When more people start dying in bizarre circumstances, Janina starts inserting herself into the investigation, believing that she has special insight into the cases. I’m less than 10% of the way into this book, and while I’m intrigued by it, I’m not anxious to pick it back up again. We’ll see what happens over the next couple of days with it.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

These three books about Tolkien and his works arrived on the same day for me via inter-library loan, which is fortunate as they came from three different libraries in three different cities- by chance, if by chance it was. The Ring of Words and Interrupted Music are fairly short, but Green Suns and Faerie is a little longer. I’m hoping to get through all three in the next week and a half or so.

8 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: October 23, 2021

  1. Sounds like yours was just about the best kind of busy, doing things you enjoy. I love the idea of mixing photography and books. I’m glad you had that opportunity, both to see those sorts of interesting and rare books and to photograph them. Very cool. And I’m really curious to learn more about Interrupted Music. I’ll be honest, when I was younger I mostly skimmed quickly over all the poems and songs, they just didn’t catch my interest. But now when I reread I get much more enjoyment out of them and spend a bit more time thinking about their words and meaning and how they play into the story, history and mythology.

  2. I think most people skip over the songs when they’re young, and then come to appreciate them when they’re older (if they appreciate the songs at all). I started Ring of Words last night. So far, it’s a little dry but very informative when it comes to Tolkien’s work on the dictionary. I’ll keep you informed about the other two.

  3. How awesome to get out to be with people and books! Sounds like a lot of fun. Mina and the laundry reminds me of my childhood actually (with me in the Mina role) — my mother used to take clothes out of the dryer and cover us up with them on the couch while she folded. Warm, clean clothes — delicious.

    I’m glad to see your thoughts on Ghost Wall. I picked up a copy at some point but haven’t read it yet, and it had mostly slipped my mind. Maybe I should see if the audio is available from the library. Have a great week!

  4. I can’t complain about being able to get paid to photograph books! It was a good time.

    Ghost Wall was was a strange book, about liminal spaces and trying to reclaim a lost past. It’s listed as horror, but the horror of it is not supernatural– it’s the banal horror of an everyday monster. The audiobook was fantastic.

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