And after an unplanned hiatus, I’m back. I had a family thing a couple of weeks ago, a week of lousy sleep, busy days at work, and a good deal of existential dread. The family thing is over, and while work isn’t any slower but I’ve been sleeping much better.
The existential dread remains.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
The cats took the noise of Independence Day fairy well. Mostly, they slept through it thanks to closed windows and the air conditioner, though there was a bit of hiding in the closet when the neighborhood got particularly noisy after dark.
It seems that Mina has been spending most of her nights sprawled out on my nightstand again. If I wake up in the middle of the night, she’s right there and she’s still there in the morning when my alarm goes off.
Although, on Friday morning I woke up a few minutes before the alarm to find Mina asleep on her blanket in the chair. Once the alarm went off, however, she got off the chair and hopped onto the nightstand in order to get her morning scritchies.
This cat is entirely too cute.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2) by Alix E. Harrow
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this duology (I assume it’s a duology, anyway), and was looking forward to this sequel. While I mostly enjoyed it, it felt campier than the first one and like it was a little took hooked on pop-cultural references to make a story that will last longer than a few years. I also wish that certain elements had been fleshed out a little more. It would only have taken a paragraph or two here and there, adding perhaps five pages to the whole book to make it feel complete. As it was, this novella was a quick, fun read, but overall felt a little incomplete.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Widow Queen (The Bold #1) by Elżbieta Cherezińska, translated from the Polish by Maya Zakrzewska-Pim, audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell (72%)
Given that historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, I’m always on the lookout for good historical novels set during the medieval era. Sadly, the books I usually find rely on tropes or cliches like, ‘the princess/queen is kidnapped and begins to have feelings for her captor’, or ‘the spirited young noblewoman is married off for political reasons and her husband is a brute who abuses her and she has to rise above it’. Or the characters feel like modern people dressed up in period costumes for an elaborate Renaissance festival. Not my cup of tea.
So it’s always gratifying to find a historical novel that doesn’t rely on tired tropes and cliches. The Widow Queen is one of these. Its primary focus is on a young Christian noblewoman whose brother was the first king of Poland. She was married to King Eirik of Sweden in the late 900s, and while history doesn’t remember her name, Cherezińska gives her the name Swietoslawa and imagines a fiery young woman who desires a throne in her own name, with no man guiding her hand. It’s a long road from the teenager living in her father’s court to the bold woman who can rule a court full of Vikingrs, though, and there are plenty of dangers along the way.
One of the things I enjoy about The Widow Queen is that the female characters feel so real and so distinct. They are alive with their own plans and desires. Some wish to be powerful, while some wish to have many children. But none of them is particularly helpless, and all of them find their own ways to handle their eventual husbands.
The men in the story are fascinating, too. Given the world they live in, most of them are seeking power of one kind or another, but the paths they take to that power are different, and alliances are never assured.
I’m about 70% through, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to Swietoslawa. I haven’t checked to see when the sequel is due out, but I will definitely read it when I find it.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
This week is going to be extra busy at work, given that one of our biggest annual events is going on. I probably won’t be reading much over my lunch hour, and it’s entirely possible that I’ll just collapse on the couch once I get home at night and veg out with some podcasts.
But we’ll see.
If I do have some brain left for reading, I plan to read Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word for World Is Forest. It shouldn’t take terribly long, as my copy is only about 175 pages. One of my library holds came in today, so I will try to get through Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders, which is a book of essays about writing through hard times. This one is fairly short, too, at around 240 pages.
Granted, I might end up devouring both of these in a sitting or two, and move on to the next thing, whatever that might be.