Sunday Sum-Up: May 22, 2022

An odd week around here. It was hot for the first part of the week, and then it got cold– so I had to run my air conditioner most of the day on Wednesday, and by Thursday night the radiators were back on. Oh, Nebraska. You do love your weird weather.

The carpet layers finally arrived to put down new carpet in the halls of my apartment building, so after a few weeks of all of us rattling around what felt like a haunted building, there is now lovely new carpet underfoot, and it feels a little less like you might come face to face with a ghost as you turn to go down the stairs.

Not saying that the new carpet has scared them away. They aren’t laying carpet in the attic or anything, so it’s just a chance for the ghosts to move upstairs….

Also, I saw the moon did a thing last Sunday:

Obligatory Mina Photo:

Thanks to the carpet layers banging around for the past few days, Mina has been hiding in the closet again. But every once in a while, she ventures out in the apartment proper and naps in one of her usual places: particularly on the bed. Shortly after I took this picture, she fell asleep and in the progress of napping, ended up sprawled across the blanket, somehow taking up the majority of the bed’s available area, despite the fact that she is a 10.5-pound cat.

This seems to be a skill that cats have. Last night, for example, after I went to bed, both cats ended up on the bed and I felt as though there was very little space left for me.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I am thrilled to have both the cats snoozing next to me. It makes a happy.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

The Hacienda is Cañas’ debut, a Gothic horror novel set in Mexico in the 1820s. Beatriz is a young woman who chose a loveless but advantageous marriage to a cold and distant nobleman who takes her far from the life of servitude she has been enduring. But far from being a welcoming, luxurious home, San Isidro is a house of watchful, vengeful spirits inflicting terror and hallucinations upon Beatriz. With little real power and a house determined to drive her mad or kill her, Beatriz must forge fragile alliances if she wants to survive.

Despite a few pacing issues and some odd time jumps, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I don’t read very much horror, but what I do read tends toward the Gothic side, and Cañas has full control of the tropes and narrative structures that go along with the genre. Once the story really got going, I found it hard to put down. I hope Cañas continues to write in this vein because once she fully masters her art, her books are going to be brilliant.

What I’m Currently Reading:

By this point, I have grown to be rather fed up with the characters in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and will probably only finish the book out of sheer stubbornness. I only have 29% of it left, so by using the sunk cost fallacy, I can’t quit now. I’m going to have to put with Mr. Norrell being an infuriating ass who claims to desperately want to revive English magic and then does everything he can to suppress other magicians on the grounds that “they can’t possibly understand” or “they aren’t suited to the study of magic” or some other hair-brained reasoning. I honestly want to throw rocks at the man and at his house, take his library, and distribute it throughout England in as many Little Free Libraries as possible. Jonathan Strange is marginally better because he at least believes that these people called ‘women’ are capable of learning magic, but for as much as he says he wants to teach other people to use magic, he isn’t much better about actually doing it than Mr. Norrell is. So between all the dithering, footnotes, and the outright ignoring both main characters are doing of the actual real things going on in front of them, I’m about ready to wash my hands of both of these idiots. But I will carry on because I’m stubborn.

As irritated as I am with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, I wanted something that would work as a palate cleanser once my audiobook was returned to the library (I switched over to a physical copy after that). Because I’ve been wanting to reread Pride and Prejudice again, I decided to give the audiobook a go, and I’m quite enjoying it, though I’m not the biggest fan of the narrator, who sounds like she’s about three times Lizzie’s age. But what can you do? I know Rosamund Pike has narrated P&P, but as far as I know, that’s an Audible exclusive, and I steadfastly refuse to get an Audible account. It’s bad enough that I have an Amazon account….

Anyway. I’ve reached the point where Lizzie imagines that she’s falling in love with (the perfidious) Mr. Wickham, but she has lost her chance to dance with him at the Netherfield Ball, as Wickham was ‘obliged to be in town on business’. We all know it’s because Mr. Darcy is at the ball, and Wickham is too much of a coward to face Mr. Darcy, but Lizzie doesn’t know this yet and she refuses to believe the evidence given to her by Caroline Bingley or even Jane. At this moment: poor Lizzie. But she’ll learn.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

No, I didn’t start on either book I intended to begin last week. The Hacienda came in for me at the library, and as there was a deadline for that, I read it first and then didn’t get to the others, thanks to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. And other things. I may not get to The Night Circus or The Witch’s Heart again this week, as Nettle & Bone came in for me at the library yesterday, and once again there is a deadline associated with it. There is also a deadline for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but I can renew my loan on that. But I do want to get it done this week so I can move on with my reading life and start new books.

What I’ve Been Listening To:

The Magnus Archives
Fiction Podcast
Featuring: Jonathan Sims, Alexander J. Newell, Ben Meredith, Lydia Nichols, Mike LeBeau, Sasha Sienna, Alasdair Stuart, Jon Gracey, Paul Sims, Sue Sims, Frank Voss, Hannah Brankin, Lottie Broomhall, and Jessica Law
Genre: Horror

I finally finished The Magnus Archives thanks to a marathon listening session where I got through the second half of the fifth season in a day. I started the 200th and final episode around 12:30 on Monday morning, and wow was I not expecting that ending.


Who knew a podcast that initially felt like a horror anthology where a guy read spooky stories would turn into a tragic story wherein people encountered their worst fears, eldritch horrors appeared out of the woodwork (sometimes literally) to terrorize and trap ordinary people doing ordinary things, an overarching story slowly weaves its way into being, romance blossoms between traumatized people, and it comes together to become the best fiction podcast I’ve ever listened to. I can’t recommend The Magnus Archives highly enough.

14 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: May 22, 2022

  1. Sorry to hear Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell went downhill. It sounds like it had started off ok, and for something so long to go downhill is a real disappointment. But on the positive side, glad to hear how much you enjoyed The Hacienda. I don’t read a lot of horror these days but I do enjoy some of it from time to time (depending on the style of horror). Similar to your listening to Pride & Prejudice, I’ve found I’ve really enjoyed experiencing some classics as audiobooks, sometimes as rereads and sometimes as first reads. As always, the narrator certainly makes a difference, and where I’m often getting my classics through public domain sources they can be hit or miss sometimes.

  2. First, because I am a cat person, Mina is absolutely stunning. Those eyes. Our poor pumpkin king has been hiding himself under the couch from fear of the thunderstorms going through.
    Secondly.. you have some fantastic books here! The Hacienda is going on my TBR and I can’t wait to get my hands on Nettle and Bone!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Hopefully once you’ve slogged your way through the rest of Jonathan Strange you’ll be able to enjoy the others.

  3. I had the opposite problem with a narrator, who sounded like she was like seven or eight and was narrating an 11-year-old. Then somehow I found the same narrator again and she was reading a YA book where the protagonist was probably 18 and there were innuendos being spoken and…I just couldn’t do it with the narrator’s baby voice. I shall not name said narrator, but it was bad.

  4. Gorgeous Mina photo! I think cats and children both have the talent (?) of being teeny creatures who still manage to take up ALL the space. Which narrator are you listening to for P&P? My last listen was with Emilia Fox and I liked it (still haven’t gotten to the Rosamund Pike version). Have a great week!

  5. Cat talents: spreading across an entire given space…. They did it again last night. Once again, there was next to no room for me on the bed. But the cats were comfy.

    Carolyn Seymour is the narrator. If I’m doing my math right, she was in her early 60s when she did the narration, so 3x Lizzie’s age. She’s doing a good job, but it’s a little odd to hear the voices of teens and 20-somethings coming from a 60-something woman. It’s always a little odd when that happens.

  6. Thanks! Mina knows she’s beautiful… I hope your cat starts being less scared, or that the storms stop rolling through soon. I always feel bad for my cats when they dash under the bed because of the thunder.

    I’m going to finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell this week. I am going to finish it. It’s not that it’s bad or anything, it’s just that Norrell is so, so tedious, and Strange isn’t doing much to counteract him. In the last 150 pages, there is some plot going on, so that’s going to help me get through it. I’m looking forward to other books!

  7. I wouldn’t say that Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has gotten bad or anything. The writing is still great, and the mood and tone are spot on, but there are these long, long stretches where not much is happening and I just want to throw things at Mr. Norrell. I’ve been getting into a little more horror lately, thanks to The Magnus Archives, but I’m very particular about what kind of horror I want to consume, so finding that particular strain is difficult.

  8. Cats, they’re full of so much personality, you can’t help but love them.
    And for some reason animals and thunder just never seem to mix.

    It’s a shame your book has turned out to be so tedious.. it does sound like it should be more interesting.
    At least your almost finished!
    I’m kind of in a similar situation at the moment.. except I just started mine and have zero motivation to finish it.😵‍💫

    Here’s to finishing them up and moving on to the next adventure!

  9. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is fascinating and frustrating in equal parts. The magic is amazing– so willful and wild and unpredictable– but the characters… I just want to throw tomatoes at them so often! The finale was great, but getting there was a journey.

    Good luck with your current book, assuming you haven’t chucked it out the window already!

  10. Lol. Those really can be some of the best and worst reads.
    My curiosity started to perk up at ‘willful and wild and unpredictable’ and I had to stomp that out real quick.. I’m officially determined to get through the last bit of my own frustrating book (haven’t tossed it out the window yet!)

    But, yay, now you can start a new adventure!
    Have a wonderful weekend!

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