Summer is making its last gasp around here. It’s been hot and dry, making last weekend’s cool and gloomy day a too-small taste of Fall. We’re supposed to get another few hot days before the temperature drops again, hopefully for the season. I’m done with the hot weather. I was done with the hot weather last spring.
I went out and about on my day off (which was another hot day). I a new candle from a local chandler, tried a seasonal coffee (blackberry crunch white mocha) at my friend’s recently-opened cafe, and went to the used bookstore. I also went to the art museum, which might have been a mistake because it was a decent walk from the bookstore, and by the time I got there and back to the car, I was suffering a bit of heat exhaustion. I ended up canceling my dinner plans because I felt awful by the time I got home. After drinking some water and laying down for a while, I started to feel better.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Tigress of Forlì: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici by Elizabeth Lev
- Breach of Peace (The Lawful Times #1) by Daniel B. Greene
I didn’t have a great reading week, but I managed to finish a couple of books. The first was Elizabeth Lev’s The Tigress of Forli, a biography of Caterina Sforza, a woman who defended her small city against much larger and more aggressive forces in the 1490s into the 1500s. She often used strategies to match those of military leaders like the notorious Cesare Borgia. History hasn’t always been kind to Caterina, because biographers haven’t known what to do with intelligent, military-minded women. But Lev’s biography is a fair-minded account of this fascinating woman’s life, and it doesn’t veer off-topic to discuss the men in Caterina’s life as some biographies that are meant to be about women do. If you’re interested in Renaissance or Italian history, I’d recommend giving this one a try.
I bought a digital copy of YouTuber Daniel Greene’s first novella Breach of Peace because I needed a self-published book for a slot in a yearlong reading challenge I’m taking part in. I’d sampled several other self-published books I’d seen recommended on various lists and hadn’t found them interesting or well-written. Greene’s book seemed okay from the sample I downloaded and it was short, so I figured that if I didn’t like it, at least it would be short. It turned out to be a good thing that it was short because I hated this book. It’s about a team of police investigating the gruesome murders of a wealthy family, Khlid is the lead investigator, and the deeper she looks into things, the more treachery she finds. It should be interesting, but the bad writing, clunky dialogue, lack of worldbuilding, and zero character development made this a chore to read, even though my copy was less than 100 pages long. I’m also completely baffled by the fact that the only female character had a name like ‘Khlid’, while the other (male) characters had names like Samuel or Chapman. I don’t recommend this one. So far, I’d say it’s the worst of the year.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes (93/197)
- The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro De’ Medici by Catherine Fletcher (53/336)
Sonokrom is a Ghanaian village that hasn’t changed for centuries. The people drink their palm wine and speak the language of the forest, and stick to the old ways. But when sinister remains are found in the hut of a man who has disappeared, a young forensic pathologist, Kayo, is called in from the city. Kayo is convinced that he’ll be able to solve any mystery with science, but the more he and his assistant, Constable Garba, investigate, the stranger things around them become. I’m about halfway through this, and I have no idea what the answer to the mystery is, but Kayo is an interesting character, and I’m looking forward to finding out how he deals with the mysteries of Sonokrom.
Once I finished The Tigress of Forli, I guess I wasn’t ready to leave 16th century Italy quite yet, so I picked up my copy of The Black Prince of Florence, which is about Alessandro de Medici, who ruled Florence for seven years from 1531-1537. Fletcher asserts that Alessandro, the illegitimate son of Lorenzo de Medici and a servant named Simunetta, was a bi-racial man who grew up to be the first person of color to serve as head of state in the Western world. I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet, but Fletcher’s narrative is compelling, and her research seems impeccable so far. I’m looking forward to learning more about Alessandro, a fascinating person I hadn’t really heard about before this.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
I had the audiobook of Shutter on hold through my local library, and it came in for me the other day. I haven’t been in the mood for audiobooks during my normal audiobook-listening time, so I’m hoping to start it a little later today.
I was checking to see if my library had a couple of new releases I’m interested in, and I noticed that my hold for Maggie O’Farrell’s latest book, The Marriage Portrait, is listed as ‘in-transit’, so I should be able to pick it up in a day or two. I’ll be reading about yet another member of the de Medici family, but this time I’ll be reading a novel as opposed to a biography. Given how much I loved O’Farrell’s prose in Hamnet, I think I will love this book, too.
What I’ve Been Watching:
The Rings of Power
Showrunners: Patrick McKay and John D. Payne
Starring: Morfydd Clark, Nazanin Boniadi, Robert Aramayo, Benjamin Walker, Lenny Henry, Owain Arthur, Markella Kavanaugh, Sophia Nomvete, Maxim Baldry, Charlie Vicker, et. al.
The latest episode of The Rings of Power, ‘The Great Wave’ set us primarily in the island kingdom of Numenor, where Galadriel tested herself against the Queen Regent Tar-Miriel. Suffice it to say that things didn’t go as expected for Galadriel. But Tar-Miriel showed that her iron will wasn’t completely rigid. Elrond and Prince Durin seem to be at odds again. Meanwhile, someone is still calling to Isildur in his mind, Theo defies Bronwyn, and Arondir encounters a mysterious figure with a message to impart.
I loved this episode. It moved the overarching plot forward at a good pace and provided plenty of great character moments. And the cinematography was gorgeous. I am liking this show more and more as it progresses, but I’m a little sad that we’re already mid-way through the season.
I’m also happy to see that, after weeks and months of people constantly railing against it for often bad-faith reasons, fans are starting to post positive things about it on social media. It’s been great going onto Instagram and seeing cosplayers and general fantasy fans (especially fans of color) be excited to watch the show and chatter on about their favorite characters. And over on Tumblr, I’ve been nerding out over the various gifsets that people are making, as well as their theories about who Adar or The Stranger really are. I have to admit that, during the first couple of weeks after The Rings of Power premiered, it seemed like all I saw were people complaining (and often whining) about one detail or another, or how “it was throwing out the lore from The Silmarillion for no good reason” (let’s be clear yet again: they don’t have rights to anything in The Silmarillion, and they’ve been upfront about that from the beginning). Seeing all the negativity– especially when I’d tried to filter it out of my feeds– was disheartening. When I’m enjoying something, I want to find other fans and share in the excitement about whatever we’re fans of. When so many people are whining about it to the point that they drown about the people who are genuinely excited, it’s hard to find other fans to share the experience with.
But I am finding my people, and we’re having a good time with our fan theories and generally geeking out about all the little details we see in the story, script, and background. I’m looking forward to the next episode and finding out more answers to the mysteries.