Sunday Sum-Up: January 23, 2022

Another week has come and gone, and it was fine. Nothing terrible happened, nothing amazing. Just a nice row of days with a bit of stress from work, which was nothing I couldn’t handle with the application of coffee or a cookie at the end of the day.

I stopped by the used bookstore downtown on my day off to see what they had done with the place during the reset. They shifted some shelves, moved some sections around in nonfiction, and moved the endcaps where the bookish gifts lived. Nothing grand changed, but it was great to be back in my favorite bookshop after they were closed for two weeks.

I purchased one book with some of my store credit: Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant by Tracy Borman. I’ve already read Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Thomas Cromwell: A Life, but as I’ve read and enjoyed other works by Borman, I figured I would give this one a go. I perused the first couple of chapters, and it looks like it’s more of a popular history of Cromwell’s life, where MacCulloch’s biography was slightly more academic. I don’t know if I will read Borman’s book first, or the unread biography of Cromwell’s rival, Thomas More, that’s been sitting on my shelf for most of the past two years.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

Both of my cats are experts at finding new blankets and beds to lay on. Whenever a new blanket comes into the apartment, or even when one is freshly laundered (and still warm from the dryer), they will sniff out the new softness and immediately lay down.

For example, I had just washed the old comforter I fold up and use as a cat bed. It was sitting on the chair in the bedroom for perhaps ten minutes when Mina hopped onto the end table under the window (where she loves to watch the neighborhood and its wildlife) and realized that the comforter was right there. She abandoned the window and settled down for a long nap. I think she was there for the entire afternoon.

I can’t blame either cat for this. If I had my way, I’d be lounging on blankets all day, too, albeit with a book in hand.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

Prophecy was a gripping historical mystery once again featuring the Italian philosopher and scientist, Giordano Bruno. At the end of 1583, dire prophecies concerning the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn are running rampant. People fear that this foretells the downfall of Queen Elizabeth, and there are agents from abroad who are working to make this happen. When one of Elizabeth’s maids of honor is found dead with cryptic symbols carved into her skin, Sir Francis Walshingham orders Bruno to investigate the people who live and work at the French Embassy, where Bruno is also living as a guest of the French king. The deeper Bruno is drawn into the conspiracy, the more he finds that he can’t trust anyone around him- and there are those who know more about his secrets than is safe for him. I found the second book in this series more compelling than the first one (though I liked Heresy well enough to continue). There is less for Bruno to have to explain about his background and personal beliefs, so we can get onto the mystery. There were a couple of days when I turned on the audiobook and listened through everything I was doing because I needed to find out what was going to happen. I am enjoying this series so much so far. The characters feel like they belong in their place and time, and Elizabeth’s reign is the perfect backdrop for mysteries and spy thrillers, as Walsingham’s spy network was more extensive and sophisticated than it ever had been before. I’m in the middle of the third book, and will likely finish the series in the next month or two.

The Hermit of Eyton Forest, the fourteenth book in the Brother Cadfael books, was the first one I had picked up for a while, and I’m glad I got back into them, because this story had so many twists and turns, and I never really guessed what was going to happen (not that I go out of my way in mystery novels to do so). The ending was thoroughly satisfying, though I will sadly have to say goodbye to the audiobooks, as my library doesn’t have the series in audio after this. I will have to make do with reading the last five books as physical or ebooks. Alas! I anticipate finishing this series in the next couple of months, too.

What I’m Currently Reading:

I’m making headway in Marc Morris’ The Anglo-Saxons, though reading history via ebooks is not my favorite. Unfortunately, that’s all that is available via my library, and the physical copy of this book (last I checked) is quite expensive. So I’ll carry on with the ebook. It’s been quite informative, though in some ways is more of a refresher course after The British History Podcast, which goes over the same history, but in greater depth– and with a different perspective that sometimes disagrees with Morris’ conclusions. It’s interesting to see those differences, knowing that they’re drawing on the same evidence. But that’s the thing about history, and especially history that doesn’t have a lot of documentation: there is a lot of room for interpretation, and this leads to different ideas about what happened centuries ago. It also serves as a reminder to question your sources, and not to take everything you hear at face value.

Now that I’m finally reading The Forgotten Kingdom, I’m quite enjoying it though parts of it are quite dark. It’s about the conflicts raging between kings and religions, which often leads to war and the terrible things that happen in the wake of war. I am enjoying Angharad’s perspective more than I thought I would, given that she is a nine-year-old girl at this point. Given her life experiences so far, though, I can see why she is more grown-up than the nine-year-old girls I know in real life. But she also seems like a child at times, so Pike has done a marvelous job of portraying a young girl who has seen terrible things but hasn’t completely lost her eye for magic and wonder.

Sacrilege is the third of S.J. Parris’ Giordano Bruno mysteries. In this outing, a figure from Bruno’s recent past has reappeared in disguise and in hiding. They’ve been accused of murder and want Bruno to help find the real killer before they’re found, arrested, and executed. So Bruno heads to Canterbury to investigate and finds himself treading in deeper waters than he expected because even in the quiet community of Canterbury, conspiracies against Elizabeth’s reign thrive. With few resources and no one he can rely on, Bruno is tested to his limits and must find the true killer before he finds himself executed alongside his old acquaintance.

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts is a book about Medieval manuscripts that I’ve had for some time, but never got around to reading. But a friend on one of my Discord servers has a copy of this, too, and she’s been reading it over the past few weeks. Our conversations about it and Medieval history have been fascinating. So I set aside the Medieval art history textbook I’d been reading and started this one. I’m only one chapter in, so we’ll see what I think when I’ve read more of it.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

I suggested to my library that they purchase a copy of African Europeans, which they did almost immediately. I was informed right away when it arrived, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for a week while I work on finishing up one or two of my non-audio reads. I’m hoping to finish up The Forgotten Kingdom in the next day or two, and then get right to African Europeans. It’s a fairly short book, so it shouldn’t take long to get to– and it sounds fascinating.

The Wolf and the Woodsman is one of the books I got for Christmas. I’ve heard great things about it, so I’m looking forward to starting it soon.

8 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: January 23, 2022

  1. I know. I have a really cushy robe…when I take it off to dress I sometimes put it on the bed…the cat has a radar and immediately comes to lay on it

  2. I had to do a double-take when I saw Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts here. Not sure why as it makes perfect sense you’d have it given your interests. Back when it first came out my mother was in the hospital for surgery that would last a good part of the day. My father and I stopped by a bookstore on the way there to pick up something to read while in the waiting room. Meetings was one of the books I bought that day. I thought it looked fascinating and was plenty long enough to keep me occupied. And yet, I ended up reading another book while waiting. So this one has been on my shelves ever since waiting for me to pick it back up.

  3. I bought Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts in 2020. I found it on sale somewhere… So far, it’s been alright. de Hamel tends to wander about in his narrative and ignore the manuscripts at times. He’s kind of a snob, too. But I’m enjoying it well enough to keep going. The photographs are beautiful

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