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:
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, audiobook narrated by Kyle McCarley
- Rogue Elements (Star Trek: Picard #3) by John Jackson Miller
- Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, audiobook narrated by Christine Hewitt
- The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
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:
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.
- Jade Legacy (The Green Bone Saga #3) by Fonda Lee, eARC provided by NetGalley
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, audiobook narrated by Beata Poźniak
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:
- The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner
- Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien’s Mythology by Verlyn Flieger
- Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien: by Verlyn Flieger
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.