The days were lovely this week. The proper late spring weather with sun, moderate temperatures, and a bit of rain.
This coming week, it will be over 100F, or at least in the 90s F, with plenty of humidity.
I am vexed by this, dear reader. Vexed, I tell you. If I don’t update you all next weekend, know that it is because I have melted into a puddle somewhere and will be staying there until the cooler temperatures of Fall come back around.
Obligatory Mina Photo
I think I have written before of Mina’s endless desire to be in the kitchen cabinets. As I store pots, pans, and cat-unfriendly items there, I go to lengths to keep her out of there.
Well. On Wednesday, I heard her banging on the cabinets in the kitchen. I called for her to stop, and it went quiet. I figured she had gone to take a nap in the closet, as is her habit.
An hour or so later, though, I heard a scrabbling sound in the kitchen. It took me a few minutes to figure out it was coming from the cabinets.
My 10.5-pound cat had shoved her food bin aside just enough to get into the cabinet under the side shelf. At the time, the bin had about 7 pounds of cat food in it.
Why this cat is so desperate to get into the cabinets that she will throw herself at something that’s seventy percent of her body weight, I will never know. But she seems to have learned a bit of a lesson and has not tried to get back into the cabinets. Yet.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, audiobook narrated by Kyle McCarley
- The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by J.H. Williams III
- The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III
- The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Steve Parkhouse, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Todd Klein
- The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Barron Storey, Bill Sienkiewicz, Glenn Fabry, P. Craig Russell, Milo Manara, Miguelanxo Prado, Frank Quitely
I finished The Night Circus on Sunday evening. Overall, I thought it was fine. It has lovely writing and does complicated things with timelines, but there was a romance that was, I’m sure meant to sweep me off my feet as a reader, but it didn’t do very much for me. I was more interested in Widget and Poppy’s story than I was in Celia or Marco’s. But hey, I’ve read this popular book I’ve been hearing about for ages, and overall I enjoyed it. But it’s not a new entry on my list of favorites.
The Goblin Emperor, by contrast, is one of my favorites, and I could read it over and over again and not get tired of it. I love how Maia learns and grows through the whole book, and how he uses what skills he developed during his lonely childhood to get him through the first weeks of his reign, and how he refuses to let the unspoken rules of ‘what the emperor can or cannot do’ define what he will be as either a person or as an emperor. I also love Addison’s worldbuilding and language development, as there are facets that are fully recognizable as Things from the Real World, but they’re turned just slightly so they fit into this magical, steampunk-esque world. The second companion novel in this series, The Grief of Stones, comes out in a few days, and I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to it.
After the release of the latest trailer for Netflix’s upcoming Sandman, I decided that this would be a good time to reread the entire Sandman series. So I picked up the first five volumes from the library, plus Overture and Endless Nights, and read four of the titles this week. It’s been a while since I read any of these, so there were parts of the story I had forgotten and parts that I clearly remembered. I have to say that I don’t care for most of the stories of the first seven issues, but I love issue eight, ‘The Sound of Her Wings’, which introduces Death. In that issue, Dream learns to lighten up a little after his long captivity. Volume two, The Doll’s House, is probably my least favorite of the series on account of the violence (The Corinthian plays a major role, so of course it is violent), but it introduces some intriguing characters and continues several story threads that spool out across the entire series. Overture is a prelude of sorts to the main series, though there are elements from the end of the series that affect the series in progress (if that makes any sense. That’s the fun of circular narratives that don’t necessarily have to play by the rules of linear time). I enjoyed the twists and turns of the narrative, and I adore the art in it (the way I don’t care for much of the art of the earlier volumes, which may just be a preference for comic art styles of the 2000s over that of the 1980s). Endless Nights is a collection of seven stories, each of them dealing with a member of the Endless. Delirium’s story is particularly twisty, just like she is, and Despair’s story (or set of stories) is as dark as you would imagine them. I will probably just read the next three main volumes this week, and then wait until next week to get the next set of five volumes or so.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by María Rosa Menocal (123/352)
- Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries #5) by Martha Wells, audiobook narrated by Kevin Free (45%)
- The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec (13%)
The Ornament of the World is taking a different perspective from what I thought it would, and I am here for it. Rather than discussing political events or the rise and fall of dynasties on the Iberian peninsula during the Medieval era, Menocal is taking on the period by looking at a particular person, then discussing the culture that said person was involved in, and what was generally going on in the cultures of the three religions– Islam, Judaism, and Christianity– that were most prevalent in the region. I appreciate it when historians use art as a medium for describing history, as a culture’s art will tell you about the sorts of things that they valued in general. In this case, the primary art form Menocal discusses is poetry and architecture. I am here for it and look forward to reading the rest of this fascinating little history book.
I had downloaded a different audiobook from my library, but I didn’t really care for the narrator, so I returned it. Because the other audiobooks I wanted to read weren’t available, I decided to download Network Effect via the Hoopla app. I always enjoy Kevin Free’s performance as Murderbot, and this installment is no exception. I’m not quite halfway through, and Murderbot is having to face some uncomfortable realities about a friend, and that friend is having to learn a thing or two about Murderbot. And guess what? Humans are helping both parties figure things out! Apparently humans have a use or two after all. I’ve only read Network Effect once before (right after it came out), so there are plenty of things I’ve forgotten about. So while it’s not quite like reading a book for the first time, there are still some surprises in store.
The Witch’s Heart is a book I’ve just not been bothering reading, partly because my only e-reader at the moment is my phone, and I don’t really care for reading ebooks on my phone (it’s to do with the way that my eyes go over regular-sized pages vs. the much smaller size of my phone screen). But I’ve had enough downtime at work that I decided to stop putting it off. So far, I’m enjoying the story. It feels rather like Jesse Byock’s or Robert Cook’s translations of sagas such as Njal’s Saga or Saga of the Volsungs. That is, it has a light touch when called for and doesn’t force the narrative into a high style if that’s not what’s called for. The Witch’s Heart tells the story of Angrboda, a witch who was cast out by Odin for not doing what he wanted. She recovered from a horrific punishment and is living quietly in a cave at the edge of the world, trading her potions for useful things and otherwise trying to stay out of everyone’s way. Then Loki shows up, and Angrboda’s quiet life is utterly disrupted. I haven’t read much further than that, but I am thoroughly enjoying Gornichec’s interpretation of Loki. It’s easy to see him as a goofy trickster who is always pulling pranks on the other gods, but it’s good to remember that Loki had an extremely dark side, too. This is not Marvel’s Loki as played by Tom Hiddleston. This Loki is a dark trickster you can only trust so far. Angrboda has remembered that thus far, but things could change.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
I have no idea. It will depend on which of my audiobooks on hold (if any) show up, or if my pre-ordered copy of The Grief of Stones arrives (or if there will be further shipping shenanigans), of if I decide to just read the poetry books I bought on a whim at Barnes and Noble yesterday.
Stay tuned for a surprise next week, I guess.
What I’ve Been Listening To:
In my ongoing search to find a horror or horror-adjacent podcast that lives up to the brilliance of The Magnus Archives, I decided to try Welcome to Night Vale. I’m about ten episodes in, and I’m quite enjoying it.
Welcome to Night Vale is about a fictional desert town where strange things just happen daily, and all the conspiracy theories are true. Things that the citizens of Night Vale have had to worry about are Glow Clouds, hooded figures in the dog park (one must not enter the dog park. Dogs must not enter the dog park), the transformation of wheat and wheat-byproducts into snakes, and a pack of feral dogs that attack children and paint graffiti on the walls. The worst thing that the community radio host, Cecil, has had to deal with so far, though, is the fact that the visiting scientist, Carlos, cut off his long, luscious black hair.
There are about 150 episodes, plus seven recorded live shows, and two novels, so I have a lot of material ahead of me. So far, there doesn’t seem to be much of an overarching plot, but apparently, that develops as the series progresses.
I’m not listening to this as obsessively as I was listening to The Magnus Archives, but of the other podcasts I’ve tried out so far, this has been the most enjoyable so far.