Another week of “the best-laid plans” going awry. I made plans. Lots of plans. And… most of them didn’t happen because things came up instead. Like a lengthier-than-expected car repair that unexpectedly left me at a shopping area that doesn’t have much in the way of shopping (at least not shopping I’m interested in) for about 5.5 hours on my day off. I’d already finished my errands for the day so nothing vital was left undone, but I’d been looking forward to getting some reading and writing done, and because I’d only planned to be there for 1.5 hours, I didn’t have any of my things with me. It was so boring.
But at least my car isn’t rattling anymore.
I’ve made plans for this week. Better plans. More exciting plans involving hiking and going out of town, so as long as something doesn’t come up, I’ll be going out and enjoying the beautiful weather that has descended upon us.
On an even brighter side, it’s October! Spooky season is upon us! I’m planning to read spooky books and watch spooky shows and listen to spooky podcasts. I do this all year anyway, but it all gets a bit more concentrated in October. And while I’m not a fan of pumpkin-spiced anything, I enjoy the other fall flavors that are available this time of year, so I plan to take advantage of apple and cinnamon things while I’m out and about. I’m so happy that Fall is actually here, that the temperatures are dropping, and that the leaves are starting to turn.
Fall is fantastic.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
Mina is back to hanging out on hard surfaces. This week, she’s had a thing for my desk, despite the things that are on the desk like my computer and books. I don’t think she’s trying to get my attention, because when I sit down to work or pet her, she gets up and leaves. The weirdo.
Perhaps she just likes the warmth of the computer. Now that Fall is on its way I’ve been opening the windows, and some of the breezes have been almost cold. I enjoy that, but I think Mina craves warmer air. The radiators have started to come on, so I think she’ll be happy to curl up next to them on these brisk autumnal nights.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Bring Up the Bodies (The Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #2) by Wolf Hall, audiobook narrated by Simon Vance
- The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
I checked out the audiobook of the (sadly) late Hilary Mantel’s brilliant Bring up the Bodies from the library the evening after I heard about her death. It’s read by Simon Vance, who is on of my favorite narrators. Of course I loved it. This is the fourth (I think?) time that I’ve read it, and it always surprises me just how quickly events tumble down after the other once Henry decides that he’s tired of Ann, despite the fact that he spent six years and revolutionized his country in order to marry her. How quickly things change. Cromwell’s perspective is always so cosmopolitan and always so blunt about people. I love these books so much. I’m tempted to get onto the waitlist for Wolf Hall and The Mirror and the Light. Or just pull out my physical copies and dive into them.
It took my far longer to finish The Marriage Portrait than I thought it would, given how fast-paced it is. Part of this is due to the fact that my plans for my day off were completely upended. I didn’t take this with me for some reason, but I finally made it through the last hundred pages on Friday. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which reads a bit like a thriller. It’s about Lucrezia de Medici, who married Alfonso d’Este the Duke of Ferrara, when she was about thirteen. She died soon after– probably of a respiratory illness, but it was rumored that Alfonso poisoned her. The book shifts back and forth through time, going from that last fateful night with Alfonso to Lucrezia’s birth and childhood, then going on until the past timeline meets back up with the current timeline. This had all the shimmering prose and close observation of seemingly simple domestic affairs that I expect out of Maggie O’Farrell, but I think I prefer her last book, Hamnet, to this one. But I still thoroughly enjoyed The Marriage Portrait, and I definitely recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (163/1216)
- Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer, audiobook narrated by Carolyn McCormick
I’ve been doing about a chapter per day in The Lord of the Rings as I annotate it for my bookclub friend. The hobbits have made it to the Prancing Pony and are having their first conversation with Strider. It’s always interesting, doing a slow, close reading of this book, because no matter how many times I’ve read it (30+ by now), I always find something new, or at least see a new way of looking at something I’ve seen before. It’s especially interesting right now, with The Rings of Power episodes on my mind, to see where information about the Second Age comes up. Snippets of it come up in unexpected places, such as the chapter ‘In the House of Tom Bombadil’. I’m thoroughly enjoying this experience of reading the book while the new show is going on. It’s a little like it was reading The Lord of the Rings when the Peter Jackson films were coming out.
I’ve been working on a particular reading challenge all year long, and I have one book left until I’ve finished it. Annihilation is that final book, as I needed one that was a genre-bender. I’ve seen this categorized as science fiction, horror, new weird, and fantasy. So I think the genres are pretty well bent on this one. I’m only about 20% of the way through, and so far it’s compelling. I’ve watched the movie that came out a few years ago starring Natalie Portman, but so far the book is rather different from the movie, so there have been plenty of surprises so far.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk and Robot #2) by Becky Chambers
- Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims
- Ordinary Monsters (The Talents trilogy #1) by J.M. Miro
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is not a horror novella, but I’d been on the library’s waiting list for quite some time and this finally came in for me this week, so I’m not about to set it aside just because it’s currently October. I loved the first book in this little duology, and so this one was on my ‘most anticipated’ books of the year, so now that I finally have a copy I’m going to get to it. It’s quite short, so it shouldn’t take me long to get through it. I’m all for books that are the equivalent of a warm hug.
I bought a copy of Thirteen Storeys because Jonathan Sims wrote and performed in my favorite horror podcast, The Magnus Archives, and I was so impressed by his writing. I’ve been told that the writing in this isn’t quite as good as his writing for The Magnus Archives, but that’s okay because his writing there was incredible.
I picked up a copy of Ordinary Monsters over the summer after reading a sample while I was browsing in my local Barnes and Noble. I thought the writing was fantastic, and any time you have a book set in Victorian London, and then throw magic into the mix, I’m going to be interested.
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.
(spoilers for Rings of Power, episode 6)
This was a big episode full of action, as well as some beautiful character moments between Arondir and Bronwyn, and Elendil and Isildur. Galadriel and Isildur had a lovely little scene, too, but it didn’t strike me quite as much as the other two.
Much of the episode comprises a battle that we’ve known has been coming for a while now. Before all that, though, Bronwyn finds Arondir planting a seed. He explains that it’s something his people do before going into battle so that if they fall something will outlive them, and if they survive they’ll have a new plant or tree to tend afterward. I loved how they promised to plant a garden together if they made it through the coming battles. I was a little skeptical of this version of the human/Elf romance going into the show, but it’s been such a quiet and understated relationship with both characters able to function outside their romance that I’ve really come to love these two. I’m worried that one or both of them will end up dying in the end, as human/Elf relationships always end in tragedy in Tolkien’s works.
The scenes between Elendil and Isildur were lovely, too. I love how Elendil so obviously loves his children, even though their lives aren’t going in the directions he would have expected or hoped for. I’m enjoying how they’ve set up Isildur as a young man searching for his purpose– the traditional ways of life he, as a young minor nobleman on Numenor– just aren’t working for him, but I think that now that he’s arrived in Middle-earth, that he’s found the place where he belongs. I can totally see him as the headstrong young man who would defy authority and risk his life to steal a seed from the tree, Nimloth, to bring it to Middle-earth before the destruction in Numenor. I can also see him growing into the king who will be so sorely tempted by the Ring on the slopes of Mount Doom.
And can we talk about Mount Doom itself? I had a bad feeling about things as soon as Bronwyn said something about “all the villages from here to Orodruin”, and that bad feeling came to fruition in a big way. Now we know why the orcs built all those tunnels. Now we know what that wicked sword hilt was all about and why Adar wanted it. And now I know what a phreatomagmatic eruption is. I did not expect to get a geology lesson as a side to my new favorite fantasy show, but there it is. All the water that was suddenly dumped into the magma chambers inside Orodruin? Yeah. That will totally cause a volcanic eruption. That’s what Mt Saint Helens’ 1980 eruption was all about. So now Mount Doom has blown and caused a huge amount of destruction in the Southlands, and I’m so, so wondering what will happen to all the people who once called those lands home.
And on one last note: I’m not usually interested in the orcs and their culture, but Tolkien spent a long time agonizing over the origins of the orcs and whether or not they were redeemable. The showrunners, McKay and Payne, decided to deal with this directly and made Adar one of the First Age Elves who were captured and tortured into corruption by Morgoth and uses this story as the origin of the orcs. Adar tells Galadriel that they have souls, too, and deserve a homeland, too. I’m very curious to see where this goes.
Overall, I’m still so happy with this show, and while I have a couple of issues with writing and minor plot points, I can’t wait to find out what happens next. There are only two episodes left, and then we’ll have to wait a whole year for the next season.