- An update on the book hostage situation: my friend texted me early in the week to tell me she had finished both of the mystery novels I had loaned her, that she was looking forward to the next installment in the series, and that she would like her new book back. We’re meeting up mid-week for dinner and a book exchange. Her strategy worked. Might be something to think about for the future.
- My old wireless router was having major problems stay connected, and would lose connection mulitple times in an hour at random times of the day. I packed up the router and took it down to my internet service provider, dreading the long process of getting it exchanged and setup, and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t suck. Apparently they realized that good customer service makes customers more likely to stay with the service rather than switching to someone else. It’s nice to actually have the solid connection I’m paying for.
- I made a donation to World Central Kitchen, a charity organization that provides food for refugees around the world, including Ukrainian people fleeing their homeland because of the Russian invasion. I hadn’t heard about WCK until the other day, when a friend was talking about their work. Click on the link here to learn more about this great organization and make a donation if you can.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
The cats had a noisy, disruptive couple of days this week. My building’s maintenance guy had to put new smoke detectors/CO detectors in all of the units. This involved drills and a lot of beeping while he installed and then tested the new detectors. And because I could hear all the beeping in the surrounding apartments, the cats could definitely hear them. When the maintenance guy knocked on my door, Mina bolted for the closet and hid there for a few hours.
Sidney did not run away and hide because he is too dignified for that, but I had to run an errand and when I got home, he was hiding under the bed. So I guess he waited for both me and the maintenance guy to leave before he decided to hide. Odd timing, but if it makes sense to his little head, I guess we’re okay.
He came out from under the bed a little later, and Mina had recovered and was running around by mid-afternoon.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- False Value (Rivers of London #8) by Ben Aaronovitch, audiobook narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
- Worn: A People’s History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser
- The Queen of Attolia (The Queen’s Thief #2) by Megan Whalen Turner, audiobook narrated by Steve West
- She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
- The King of Attolia (The Queen’s Thief #3) by Megan Whalen Turner, audiobook narrated by Steve West
- The Heretic’s Apprentice (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #16) by Ellis Peters
- A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen’s Thief #4) by Megan Whalen Turner, audiobook narrated by Steve West
False Value, the eighth installment of Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, picks up with Peter Grant being hired by a tech giant that has some odd things going on with an ultra-secret project. He’s meant to search for the source of a particular leak, but when things start going magically weird– and when weird drones start following him around London, Peter knows there’s more to the situation than someone misusing their security clearance. And if that wasn’t enough stress, his girlfriend Beverly, a river goddess, is pregnant with twins and there are Rituals that Must Be Followed. I started listening to this back in November or so and put it down for some reason. I finally checked it out again and listened to the whole thing in a day. It wasn’t my favorite of the Rivers of London novels primarily because of the story structure. The events were narrated in a strange order that sometimes made it hard to tell what was happening when. But overall it was a pretty solid entry, and I’m ready for the next book that’s due out in April.
Worn: A People’s History of Clothing goes into the history of the various fabrics that make up the majority of our clothing– linen, cotton, silk, rayon, nylon, and wool– and shows how modernization has done horrendous things to people and the environment. I already knew that the fashion industry causes a huge amount of pollution and environmental damage, but Thanhauser brings it down to a human level and talks to both factory managers who tout the business advantages of predatory practices as well as the people who suffer from the environmental damage and pitiful wages that are part and parcel of the fashion industry. But it’s not all horrible, as Thanhauser spends the last chapter talking to small businesses and individual craftspeople who are, in a way, spearheading movements that are bringing real craft and quality back to their clothing and clothing lines and putting an emphasis on products that are more environmentally friendly. I’ve read other books about dress history and fabric through the ages, but none of them showcased the damage that fast fashion causes. It makes me glad I buy most of my clothing second-hand.
The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings are three installments of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, a highly-regarded YA series based on Mediterranean history and mythology. In this series, Eugenides is the Queen’s Thief of Eddis and is sent out to complete tasks that seem impossible. But because Gen is smart, strong, and blessed by his god, he manages to achieve victory in even the most adverse circumstances– until he fails. I read the first book in this series some time last year and enjoyed it, but never bothered to continue it until I was flipping through my list of unfinished series and decided to try the next book, as the audiobook was only about eleven hours. I finished the book within twenty-four hours and went right on the next one and the next one. Turner’s method of storytelling is unique and doesn’t stick with a particular perspective from one book to the next, nor does it spell out what’s happening. And I believe that Gen is the often mercurial and consistently underestimated dork who can achieve the things that he does– with style. I’ve been enjoying the shifting politics between the three main countries, and am wondering how they’re going to fight off the nearby empire that tends to swallow whatever countries they start getting friendly with. I have two books left in the series, and I already have them downloaded via my Libby app. I’ll probably start listening to the next one, Thick as Thieves, later today.
She Who Became the Sun is a fantasy based on Chinese history. It features a girl who, as a child, was given a fate of nothing at all. The same fortune-teller declared that her older brother would have a grand destiny and that his name would never be forgotten. When when the two children are orphaned after a bandit raid and the brother gives in to despair and dies, the girl takes up his name and sets out to achieve her brother’s grand destiny. I found this book incredibly frustrating on a few fronts. Firstly, the writing was often awkward or clunky, filled with words that felt like they were pulled out of an SAT prep course. Quick note: just because you know the words ‘mandibular’ or ‘vertiginous’, it doesn’t mean you have to use them. So many of the blurbs on the back declared this book to be a ‘poetic masterpiece’ (or something of the sort) that I have to wonder if we were reading the same book. The author’s bio in the back states that Parker-Chan has worked in diplomatic circles, and it shows. She writes like a lawyer. That is not a compliment. And because the writing was clunky, it make it difficult for me to like or relate to even the main character, Zhu, who is written like she’s meant to be charming but I usually found her more annoying than anything, especially as the story progressed. The same goes for the other point of view characters, who I cared even less about. I spend the last forty pages thinking of a different queer Asian fantasy I would rather have been reading: The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera, which actually is a poetic masterpiece. I’m even more annoyed because this was a Christmas gift. My sister spent money on this book, and it was not good.
The Heretic’s Apprentice is the sixteenth installment of Ellis Peters’ Chronicles of Brother Cadfael series. After a couple of volumes that were either mediocre or not memorable, this book was a return to form. A young man, Elave, returns from abroad with the body of his master, a man who had gone on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and died from a long illness on the way home. When a drunken conversation leads to accusations of heresy, Elave finds himself in hot water with the Church. His peril deepens when one of his accusers turns up dead. It is once again up to Cadfael to find the answer to the mystery to set Elave free and find the real killer. This was an enjoyable book, and I actually didn’t guess whodunnit until one of the characters drew the same conclusion. I only have three Cadfael books left, and I have hold requests on all of them via my public library system. I will likely finish the series in the next couple of weeks.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang (304/480)
I’m still working on this one. I’ve learned about the history of the Rolleiflex camera, which was a popular line of twin-lens reflex cameras used by photographers like Vivian Meier. It gave photographers a means of accomplishing genuinely candid street photography, as it was an inconspicuous camera and it didn’t always look like the photographer was actively taking a picture. It’s also a beautiful camera to look at. This section of the book also covered photojournalism in the 1960s and 1970s, where images brought attention to war and inequality that had been hidden before, and caused major social change to come about. In an age where many newspapers are getting rid of their photojournalists, it’s a good idea to remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that a single photograph can completely change our view of what’s going on, whether it’s about something that’s happening on the other side of the world, or something that’s happening down the street.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- Thick as Thieves (The Queen’s Thief #5) by Megan Whalen Turner, audiobook narrated by Steve West
- Return of the Thief (The Queen’s Thief #6) by Megan Whalen Turner, audiobook narrated by Steve West
- The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
I have the last two Queen’s Thief books downloaded and waiting for me in my Libby app. I anticipate finishing the series this week. Because Worn and She Who Became the Sun slowed me down this week (on my physical books, anyway, and for different reasons), I didn’t get to The Princes in the Tower. I plan to start that later today or tomorrow.
I’m working on my March TBR. It’s in flux right now because I want to finish up a few series before I start any others. I’ll be finishing two (The Queen’s Thief and The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael) soon and I caught up to The Rivers of London last week. Now I’m trying to decide which of my ongoing series I want to work on next. I’m leaning toward Deanna Raybourn’s Veronic Speedwell mysteries, of which I have two books left, and Arkady Martine’s Teixcalaan duology, of which I only have the second book left. I also need to finish up Zen Cho’s Sorcerer Royal duology by reading The True Queen. I can accomplish this in March with few problems, which means that I’ll be able to start some other series that have been waiting on my shelves. Or maybe I’ll just plow through a few more open series and get a bunch of them done so I can see about starting new series in the second half of 2022.
I’ll think on it this week and try to make some decisions about those series and figure out which ones I’ll tackle next.
About that Writing Thing:
I’ve been chipping away at the penultimate story in my ongoing fanfic series. It’s going to be a long one, and lots of dramatic things are going to happen. I started out with a week of easy writing where I hit goals left and write, but it’s been more of a struggle since then. This past week, I basically just told myself I needed to sit down and write a little bit each night, whether it was 300 words or 1,000, because every little bit helps when you’re tackling a big project and I want to be done with the introductory things and get to the dramatic events. I need to balance those events out with a lot of character moments and interactions, though, as the series is coming to an end, and I want to give all the characters a proper send-off and solid conversations before it’s all over, as the final story is going to be much, much shorter than the past few I’ve written.
And in a fun, random note: while I’ve been having trouble wordsmithing the story I’m actually working on, I figured out the last sentence for the whole darned series. So that’s good, I guess, but I wish my brain would actually sort out sentences for the current work in progress.