Sunday Sum-Up: April 24, 2022

Another windy week around here. The winds were gusting enough that a few days ago, while I was walking down the street, I was almost blown over. It was kind of weird, and I’d rather not do it again.

If someone would like some windy days, please feel free to come by and take them.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

There’s been a bit of sibling rivalry going on these days. Mina has been bothering her older brother more often, and as usual, he wants nothing to do with her. Take last night for example: I was scratching Sidney’s ears, and Mina came along and tried to butt in to take the attention. I scooped her up and set her in my lap, scratched her ears with one hand and Sidney’s ears with the other. Still, Mina was not content. She wanted all the scritchies and acted like she was jealous because her big brother was getting attention, too.

Needless to say, I did not stop scratching Sidney’s ears just because Mina was being a brat. She gets plenty of attention. Sidney needs his share, too.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

  • Learwife by J.R. Thorp, audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson

I finished Learwife on Friday night. It’s going to be one of my favorite books of the whole year. It’s such an amazing book. Thorp’s writing is amazing, the characters are so believable, and it mirrors the story of King Lear so perfectly without being exactly the same. As with Lear, there are truths in front of the queen’s eyes that she simply can’t see, and while a canny reader will likely know, from the outset, what this truth is, it doesn’t make the queen less intelligent or less observant or anything of the kind. She simply knows the truth of her story and assumes everyone else will know it, too. This is such a beautifully rendered story of power, a mother’s love for her children, and the effects that grief can have on the mind. I cannot recommend this book enough, and I am sorely disappointed that it didn’t make the shortlist for this year’s Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

What I’m Currently Reading:

I have a little under 200 pages left in The Grace of Kings, and I’m not sure what I think of it. I like the characters and all and the plot is interesting, but the narrative keeps its distance from the reader so much that it’s been hard for me to really feel invested in the story. I’ve heard that this first book in the Dandelion Dynasty is rather like a very long prologue for the rest of the series and that it gets better from here, but the next book is more than 800 pages long. Am I so interested in what happens that I’m willing to dive into an 800-page book if it retains the same sort of narrative distance? I’m not sure. I guess I’ll finish it out and see what I think at the end.

I didn’t intend to start The City We Became this week, but I needed an audiobook, and of the books on my Libby wishlist, this was the one that seemed the most interesting at the time. So far, I’m hooked. In this world, the great cities develop a sort of genius loci, spirits that inhabit mortal bodies living in whatever great city has developed enough to form one. In New York City’s case, it’s birthed five spirits at once. Unfortunately for them, they haven’t had a chance to figure out what’s going on before they’re plunged into deadly peril thanks to a monster from another world that seeks to devour the spirits and wreck their cities. Like I said, I’m hooked and I want to know what happens next. Jemisin’s writing is always so captivating, and her characters feel so real and fully formed. And Robin Miles’ narration is fantastic.

Did Not Finish:

I had no real issue with this book, except that it discussed the Victorian underworld of London in terms of the Ripper murders in Whitechapel in 1888. As I have no great interest in Jack the Ripper, I didn’t want to read an entire book that constantly referred back to it. But if you’re interested in that particular case, you might give this book a try.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

I’ve been meaning to get to The Green Knight, but The Grace of Kings and Learwife are quite dense books, so my reading time was spent on them. I’ve been meaning to start both of these books all this month perhaps I will finish both of them before the end of the month.

About That Writing Thing:

I think I’ve hit the mid-point of the big fantasy fic I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year, which is great. I initially thought I’d only made it a third of the way through, but I got to thinking about what’s going to be happening in the rest of the story, and I realized that I’m farther along than I thought I was. And I’m making good time through it, as I’m not skipping writing days like I was this time last year with the last big story. So, perhaps, I’ll be finished with the whole thing by July, and then can write the series’ epilogue and then be done with the whole darned thing after having it in my head for the past eight years.

But first, I have to finish the second half, which involves two battles, a much smaller but very important fight between two people, and several character deaths, so the job ahead is not an easy one. With every word, though, I get closer to that ending.

I’ve still been working on some smaller stories, thought I largely took this week off from writing them, as I wanted to devote the majority of my writing time to the big story, and ended up using some of my writing time to finish up Learwife. I don’t regret this decision at all, as Learwife is amazing, and my deadlines are all squishy anyway.

Though I’m sure my readers would prefer it if I kept my nose to the grindstone so they can find out what happens sooner.

11 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: April 24, 2022

  1. Ah, too bad that you didn’t finish London’s Shadows, you mentioned it last time and I was curious to read your opinion.
    The Green Knight is a great piece of literature, have fun with it 🙂
    Gorgeous cat picture as usual.

  2. Sibling rivalry — oh dear! I’m glad Sidney is getting his fair share of scritchies. 🙂 I just saw Lear Wife on a Kindle sale list — I hadn’t heard of it before, but seeing how much you liked it, I may go back and see if the sale is still there. I’ve heard good things about the Jemisen book, and I know Robin Miles is a fantastic narrator. Very tempting! Have a great week.

  3. I’m just not all that interested in the Ripper murders. It seemed like a good book otherwise. You should give it a try!

    I’ve read a few versions of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight already, and I’m looking forward to this next one, too. It’s always interesting to see how the different translators work with the same text.

  4. Sidney is so weird about scritchies. Sometimes he wanders in and complains loudly, but when I try to give him scritchies he glares and me and leaves. Such an odd cat.

    Learwife is amazing! Give it a try! NK Jemisin is a genius, and I want to read everything she’s written.

  5. It’s seemed a windy year so far over here, as well, though I have to say almost getting blown over is a bit much. 🙂

    I know exactly what you mean about The Grace of Kings. I did really enjoy it, but it read almost more like a history book, or perhaps like an idea-driven hard sci-fi story, not at all like the typical fantasy I read, so I could see many folks not getting into it. Granted, it was in some ways similar to some Chinese classics I’ve sampled, so I’m not sure if that’s common with those. I realized after reading it that I couldn’t start right into the next one but needed a break so I started something else instead. I do plan to start the next installment soon, and I am hoping the style does change a bit, though I suspect (and hope) I’ll still enjoy it even if it doesn’t, provided I can take a break every so often.

  6. It’s been so windy all spring! Though it’s calmed down in the last couple of days, which is a relief. Hopefully, it will blow some rain our way, at least.

    The Grace of Kings reminded me a lot of Jin Yong’s A Hero Born, which is a super popular Chinese wuxia novel from the 1950s, but even that one had a narrative distance that was much, much closer than Liu’s book. Not necessarily as close as a Western fantasy, but definitely more personal than Grace of Kings. Like you, I’ll give it some distance and then see if I want to continue.

  7. I’d never heard of Learwife before today, but your review of it is so convincing that I’m tempted to ignore my TBR and just read it next… Great post!

  8. I totally have to get London’s Shadows, thx. I just finished A Memory Called Empire (started and stopped reading it 3 times in the last 2 years). I eventually enjoyed it but it was way to hard. Found A Tale of Magic in a used nook store. Sounded interesting and I needed an easy read after Empire. Enjoy Jemisin.

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