This was a busy week. Not at home or anything. Home was quiet with just the normal things going on. But work was incredibly busy, and that made it feel like everything else was super busy, too. How does that happen?
So thanks to those mental gymnastics, I didn’t get as many things done as I wanted to last week, both with my reading, writing, and other artistic endeavors. I did the vast majority of my reading on Sunday and then managed a little bit throughout the rest of the week.
Here’s to hoping that this week will be a little quieter.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
Last year, one of my co-workers recommended the Go Cat toys for Mina. These toys consist of a wand and a string (or wire) that has some kind of toy attached to the end that allows a person to flick the toy about for the cat to chase after it. Because Go Cat knows cats, they made the toys interchangeable, so if one toy is destroyed or wears out, it can easily be replaced without having to replace the entire toy. My co-worker suggested the Da Bird toy, which is simply two large feathers and two smaller, fluffy feathers bound up together.
Mina loves her Da Bird toy.
But she broke it last week by pulling the feathers out of their little anchor. So I headed to the pet store to buy a Da Bird refill, only to discover that they were out of stock. Which meant I had to buy a whole new wand and toy combination because the other want toys weren’t as good, and I wasn’t about to go home empty-handed to explain to Mina that she wouldn’t be able to play with her favorite toy because it was broken and the store was out of refills.
So I spent the extra few dollars to make her happy.
The things we do for our pets.
But she’s always so excited to play with it, and that makes me happy. So it was worth the extra few dollars to make everyone happy.
Except for maybe the downstairs neighbors, who probably wonder at the sound of little cat feet running around with wild abandon.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Shadow Revolution (Crown and Key #1) by Susan Griffith and Clay Griffith, audiobook narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith
- The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid
- Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
- The Saga of the Volsungs by Anonymous, translated from the Icelandic by Jesse L. Byock
- The Undying Legion by Susan Griffith and Clay Griffith, audiobook narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith
The Shadow Revolution was not, as I assumed, a Victorian-era steampunk novel. It takes place before the Victorian era. But that’s neither here nor there. The exact time period doesn’t really matter. The story is all about the action and the character interactions. I knew this going into it, and so I had fun with it. It’s about a group of people, each with their own special ability. Kate is an alchemist, Simon is a sorcerer, Penny is an engineer, and Malcolm is a monster hunter. They must find a way to work together to combat a sudden plague of werewolves hunting in the streets of London and to find out why there are so many of these rare beasts in one place at the same time. The mystery runs deeper than they know, and to defeat the darkness, they may have to sacrifice more than they can bear. Overall, the Crown and Key books are not great literature, but they are a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to finishing the trilogy.
The Wolf and the Woodsman did not go the places I thought it would, and I’m fine with that. Evike is a pagan woman who is the only woman in her village not gifted with magic. When the Woodsman of the Patrifaith come to claim a woman from the village, the women send Evike with them. Alone and the captive of people she hates- and who hate her- she must find a way to survive without causing even more harm to her people. But as she comes to understand her captor better, she finds that his world– and her own– are more complicated than she ever imagined. Overall, I enjoyed this book, though some of the religious elements got under my skin for reasons I won’t go into (because spoilers). It’s not a new favorite, but I’m glad I read this one.
Confessions of a Bookseller is Shaun Bythell’s follow-up to his Diary of a Bookseller. Both books are, essentially, Bythell’s diary of a year in his bookshop in the little Scottish town of Wigtown, which is known for its many bookshops. Bythell’s insights about selling books, retail in general, and life in a small town are wonderful and usually balance the good with the bad. He talks about the customers who come in, some who obviously love books (and actually buy them), and others who would make anyone want to throw things at them. It is a warm and funny book where Bythell is honest about his life and how it didn’t turn out at all the way he thought it would and how he is/was disappointed that he didn’t manage to achieve certain goals he’s always wanted to. It also displays a bit more optimism about bookstores than the previous volume did, but Confessions of a Bookseller came out in 2019, so the last couple of years might have done a number on a small-town bookshop that often depends on tourists. I hope Bythell publishes another book in the same vein, as I want to see what changes have occurred since 2020.
The Saga of the Volsungs is a fairly short saga that primarily tells the story of Sigurd and Signy, who have a series of very dark and dramatic adventures that have become immortalized thanks to works like Richard Wagner’s Nibelungenlied and J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. As with most sagas, however, the story does not begin with Sigurd and Signy. It begins several generations before because the triumphs and tragedies of great heroes have their roots in history, and it’s important to have at least a basic awareness of that history before you engage with the story. It’s fascinating to see how much of both myth and history are woven into this story because on one hand, you’ll have Odin and his wish-maids appearing at opportune times, but there is a significant portion of the story dealing with King Atli, who is, in fact, Attila the Hun. I thought this story was fascinating, and I want to read it again at some point.
The Undying Legion is the second of the Crown and Key trilogy. In this volume our intrepid heroes find themselves investigating the murders of two young women found dead in two different churches with their chests cut open and their hearts branded with arcane symbols. In the midst of their investigation, the dead begin to rise to the distress and horror of everyone involved. Now Kate, Simon, and the others must find the links between the two happenings and put a stop to it all before the darkest forces imaginable descend upon England. Once again, I wasn’t expecting high literature from this book. It’s a popcorn read through and through, and I enjoyed the characters and their interactions as they developed and grew. There is still an overarching mystery I’m hoping gets resolved in the third book. I’m almost a little sad that I’ll be done with this trilogy soon, as it’s such an entertaining world. But I’m already into the final book, so I don’t have much of the story left. I hope it ends on a high note.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Confession of Brother Haluin (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #15) by Ellis Peters (63%)
- The Conquering Dark (Crown and Key #3) by Susan Griffith and Clay Griffith, audiobook narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith (11%)
- Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang (156/480)
The Confession of Brother Haluin is the first Brother Cadfael book I’ve read with my eyes. For some reason, my library doesn’t have the entire series available as an audiobook via Libby or Hoopla. Just most of it. It’s a weird experience, fifteen books into a twenty-book series, to suddenly switch formats. I’m not feeling this one as much as the others, but I don’t think it’s because Patrick Tull isn’t narrating it. So far, it’s just been a predictable story. At the beginning of the book, heavy winter snows damage the roof at the Shrewsbury Monastery, prompting the monks to begin repairs before things get worse. A terrible accident occurs, and Brother Haluin is horribly injured. Everyone including Haluin believes he will die, and so he confesses the worst sin of his life to Abbot Radulfus and to Cadfael, who Haluin believes he has sinned against. But Haluin doesn’t die and decides that he must make a pilgrimage to atone for the sins he confessed to. Cadfael comes along and becomes witness to a series of events surrounding a pair of star-crossed lovers and the truth of what happened in Haluin’s life all those years ago.
I’m not that far into The Conquering Dark, but it’s already been a rollercoaster ride of a story. I can’t wait to see how Simon will overcome the obstacles thrown his way at the end of The Undying Legion. Will he be able to aid his friends in the coming fight against the shadowy villain that has been haunting the edges of these stories? Will he ever fully recover from what happened? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.
I’ve made very little progress in Photography: The Definitive Visual History, but the subjects that Ang covered in the pages I did get two were either quite dense, such as the development of both the first Leica camera and of the revolutionary 35mm film in the 1920s, or covered heavy topics such as the use of photography as propaganda in war and social issues. I also read about Dadaism, Surrealism, the founding of the Bauhaus, and how these art movements affected photography. I will continue to press on slowly, as I’m in no great hurry to finish this book.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- Worn: A People’s History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser
- She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Worn: A People’s History of Clothing provides a look into the history of clothing and what the fabric trade has meant and done to people throughout history. I’ve discovered over the past year and a half or so that fashion history can tell us so much more about ordinary people’s daily lives throughout history, as well as informing us about trade and how the wealth of nations was built. I’d had this book on hold from my library for a while, and once it was published and the library got their copy in and processed, I got it pretty quickly. I’m hoping to start this today or tomorrow.
I keep meaning to start She Who Became the Sun, and library holds and whatnot keep getting in the way. We’ll see if I get to it this week, or if this week will be crazy again, and I won’t get a lot of reading done. I hope I can start it. I really am interested in it.
I think I’ll be able to start getting to more of the unread books on my own shelves, now that I have gotten through most of my library holds. I only have a couple of audiobooks on hold still, and if they come at inopportune times I can suspend them for a while thanks to the Libby app’s capabilities. I’ve found that to be such a handy tool over the past several months. The hold suspension allows me to maintain my place in line but lets me hand the book to the next person if I don’t have time to get to the book when it becomes available. Super. Handy. I’d be waiting so long for things if I couldn’t suspend holds.
But now that most of those holds are gone, I don’t have to deal with so many things randomly showing up on my phone and needing a response. Which means I’ll be able to read more of my physical TBR. Yay!