I recently bought a new mattress for my bed, and it was delivered on Tuesday. It’s nothing fancy, just a little softer and springier than my old mattress, but it’s made a huge difference in how I feel. I’ve been sleeping much better and am less achy throughout the day. I thought it was age starting to catch up with me, but apparently, it had more to do with poor quality sleep. Who knew? I’m so glad I finally got that new mattress. I thought the old one was alright, but I guess it really wasn’t.
The downside to the new mattress is that I now want to upgrade my pillows and my bedding.
In other news, I have taken a friend’s book hostage.
She told me to do it, and she had a reason for doing so. See, about six months ago I loaned her the last two books in Will Thomas’ Barker & Llewellyn historical mystery series, which we both love. She’s a busy woman and doesn’t have much time to read, but she recognizes that she’s had the books for a long time now.
Last weekend, she and I went to Barnes and Noble together. I didn’t buy anything (shocking, I know), but she bought the latest J.D. Robb book. It’s her favorite series and she really wanted to read it. And then, on the way home, she realized that if she took the new book home she wouldn’t read the Barker & Llewellyn books. So she told me to take her book hostage so that she would feel more inclined to read mine.
So J.D. Robb’s new book is sitting on the shelf and keeping my fantasy novels company until she lets me know that she’s ready to make the exchange.
I’ve written before about how much Mina loves her GoCat wand toy, but this past week she’s either ignored it or has been half-hearted about playing with it. What has she been doing instead? She’s been running around like a crazy thing at two ‘o clock in the morning, dashing from one room to another at top speed and making wild leaps off the couch before barreling into the bedroom and leaping onto the little table under the window, where she’ll finally stop for a little while to watch the neighborhood until she goes off to find something else to do for a while.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Confession of Brother Haluin (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #15) by Ellis Peters
- The Conquering Dark (Crown and Key #3) by Susan Griffith and Clay Griffith, audiobook narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith
The Confession of Brother Haluin was a little underwhelming. I guessed how the story’s main mystery was going to go early on, and the other questions that popped up later in the book were not really answered by the end. I have no idea what was going on with Ellis Peters during the writing of this book, but it was not as good as most of the other Brother Cadfael books. I’m hoping that the rest of the series is better than this one. I only have about five books left, and they’re all fairly short so hopefully I’ll complete this series in the next couple of months.
The Conquering Dark is the final book in the Crown and Key trilogy, and like the other two books, it had a lot of action and a lot of snarky comments from all the characters. It was a lot of fun, and was an enjoyable series with a fairly satisfying ending, though there was one question I wanted to know the answer two, and it wasn’t answered. But overall, this was an enjoyable steampunk fantasy series based on early 19th century England, and I’m glad I read it. Thanks to The StoryGraph for recommending them, as I never would have heard of them otherwise.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang (205/480)
- Worn: A People’s History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser (117/400)
- She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (196/414)
I made a little more progress in Photography: The Definitive Visual History. In this section, Ang covers the group F64, which valued sharpness over most things, and sought to get everything in-camera, as opposed to manipulating images in the darkroom after the fact. It wasn’t a long-lived camera movement, but it’s had a lasting effect on photography– especially in the digital age when so many photographers are obsessed with sharpness and having every tiny detail being perfectly defined. This approach drives me a little crazy sometimes, as mere sharpness doesn’t make a photograph great or even good, as shown in Robert Capa’s often motion-blurred photographs that he took on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day during World War II. Blur is not always the enemy of memorable photography.
Worn: A People’s History of Clothing is not merely a history of cloth and clothing. It also details the human cost of our desire for new clothes or luxurious fabrics throughout the years and especially in the twenty-first century. As our technology developed, cloth got cheaper to make and we were able to make ever more. As the twentieth century progressed, our clothes got cheaper and less well-made, until a large portion of the clothes we now buy are, essentially, disposable. The human and environmental cost of this attitude toward clothing is horrific. These demands for more cloth– particularly cotton– helped drive the slave trade from the seventeenth century to now and have led to dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico where aquatic life cannot live thanks to the overuse of herbicides in Texas cotton fields and rapid desertification in western China as the cotton industry there uses up more and more water. It’s a sobering look at where our clothes come from, and it’s made me stop taking a pair of jeans for granted. And I’m not even halfway through the book.
She Who Became the Sun is the story of a girl in China and the destiny she is trying to claim. As the story opens, most of her village has died due to famine caused by extended drought. The girl’s father takes her and her brother to see a fortune teller, who declares that the brother has a grand destiny before him, while there is nothing for the girl. But after the siblings are orphaned, the boy gives in to despair and dies. Not wanting to face a life of nothing, the girl takes on her brother’s name and goes off to claim his destiny. I’m about halfway through the book, and it’s fine so far. It’s fast-paced and the girl, Zhu, has an interesting perspective on her life, though it often seems like it’s too easy for her to accomplish the things she needs to do to claim her destiny. I have a bit of an issue with the writing, as well, which often feels awkward, as though Parker-Chan was applying phrasing from technical or legal writing to a literary work. Also, just because you know a word like ‘mandibular’, it doesn’t mean you have to use it in your book.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
For a long time, I thought False Value was the final book in Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, but it seems that book nine is due out in April. I’m trying to finish or get caught up on a variety of series before I start even more of them. So it’s about time I get to False Value.
The Princes in the Tower is another one of Alison Weir’s excellent popular history books. This one is about the two sons of King Edward IV, one of the primary figures of the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century. After his death, two sons, Edward and Richard, were being housed (or were prisoners) in the Tower of London. The young Edward became King Edward V upon his father’s death, but his uncle Richard, who was meant to serve as regent during Edward V’s minority, made a series of political moves that delegitimized his brother’s children and seemed to strip Edward V of his kingship. Then, the elder Richard had himself crowned King Richard III. Soon, the two boys disappeared and were never seen again. Thus began the unsolvable mystery: what happened to the Princes in the Tower?