Sunday Sum-Up: January 15, 2022

It’s been a quiet and cozy week around here. I’m still enjoying the vibes provided by the new living room lamp, and I’m finally getting around to finishing up some Netflix shows and watching a few movies I’ve had in my queue for a long time. So I finished up Wednesday (which was fun, though I like the 1991 movie better) and started the fourth season of The Crown. I also watched The Pale Blue Eye, which stars Christian Bale and Harry Melling as an aging detective and Edgar Allan Poe, respectively, who are investigating the murder of a West Point cadet, and whose questions take them down a dark road worthy of one of Poe’s own stories. I quite like it– Christian Bale put in a solid performance, Harry Melling edged toward being over the top, but on purpose, and Gillian Anderson knocked it out of the park in her brief-but-important role. The other movie I watched was Colette, a 2018 film starring Keria Knightley about the 20th-century French author, Colette, whose first literary foray was a series of racy books written under her husband’s name. After the series’ wild success, Colette eventually decided she wanted the books to be published under her own name and had to fight to make it happen. She also gets involved with a series of women who inspire her writing and influence other parts of her life. I quite liked this biopic. Keira Knightley was fantastic as always and the rest of the cast was great, too.

I’ll probably finish up the fourth season of The Crown later this week if I can manage to not throw things at the screen because while Gillian Anderson is stellar as Margaret Thatcher, she makes me loathe the woman even more.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

Mina has also been having a cozy week. Most nights, I’ll walk into the bedroom to get something and find her curled up and asleep on the bed. I let her stay like that for a while, but eventually, I wake her up and bring her into the living room to play for a while. Exercise and social interaction are good for both of us. She is reluctant and sleepy at first, but once the wand toy or the chirpy cricket comes out she perks right up.

I will admit to an ulterior motive here: getting her to play a couple of hours before I go to bed helps her use up her energy, so she’s less likely to get the zoomies when I’m trying to sleep.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

How To is a wonderfully absurd book that talks about complex scientific principles in order to explain absurd solutions to everyday problems like how to dig a hole or how to jump. The ‘how to move’ section, for example, explains what it would take to hook jet engines to your house and just fly it to the new city. If you’re looking for a ridiculous book about science, anything by Randall Munroe is a good place to start.

I reviewed Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries earlier this week, and I thoroughly enjoyed it– enough so that I went out and bought a copy when it came out on Tuesday. Its beautiful cover is currently on display on one of my living room shelves. It is a wonderful wintry book for people who are looking for stories based on faerie tales, and while Emily Wilde is stubborn to the core, I liked her and her mission from the first few pages.

I downloaded In Praise of Walking and started listening to it just before I went on a nice, long walk. Last weekend was unusually warm for this time of year, and so I took advantage of it. According to Shane O’Mara, it was one of the best things I could have done with my day, as the simple act of taking a walk has a multitude of benefits for physical, mental, emotional, and creative health. If you need a bit of help to actually get out and take a walk– whether it’s down the street for a few groceries or across continents– then give this one a try. O’Mara’s writing is friendly and describes the many benefits of walking without sounding preachy.

‘The Musgrave Ritual’ is a story about one of Holmes’s first forays into crime solving. An old friend from a wealthy old family calls upon Holmes to help solve the riddle of a missing butler and maid. In addition to the mystery of the missing household staff, Holmes also comes across an old family ritual that has bearings on his case. I don’t think this is one of the better Sherlock Holmes stories, but there is a funny bit where Watson just wants Holmes to clean up his mess, and Holmes ends up distracting Watson with a little story from his past.

I finished up Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black, and wow was that a strange book. I’m not entirely sure what the ending is all about. I may track down some long-form reviews of it to see what it’s all supposed to mean. But the writing is as excellent as I expected, and I felt such sympathy for Alison, who didn’t ask for her horrendous childhood or for her ability to speak with the dead. She really just seemed to want to live a normal life, but never had the chance. My sympathies for Colette changed throughout the book, and I’m not quite sure yet what I think of her. She was having a rough go of things for a long time, but then she seemed to turn on Alison even while she was claiming to be helping her. All in all, an unsettling and thought-provoking entry from Mantel. I have two more, much shorter books by her on my shelf. I’m going to wait to start on them, though. I don’t want to read them all in one go and, get her other couple of books, and then… have nothing else by her to look forward to.

What I’m Currently Reading:

  • The Luminaries by Susan Dennard, audiobook narrated by Caitlin Davies

The Luminaries is about fifteen-year-old Winnie, whose family was a part of the Luminaries, a group of people tasked with hunting down and killing the supernatural monsters who prey on humans. They were a part of the Luminaries until her father was discovered to be a witch spying for their enemies. Then Winnie’s family was cast out to live on the edges of their society. Winnie, however, isn’t about to let this ruin her chances to become a hunter. With the help of her ex-best friend Jay, Winnie plans to take part in the dangerous Hunter Trials on her sixteenth birthday. Then the two of them discover greater dangers in the forest than they expected or that anyone even knew of, and their people may be utterly unprepared for what awaits them.

I started reading this because it’s the first quarterly selection of The Bibiliothecary, a little reading community hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes. I’d heard about it before its release last fall, but I hadn’t done anything about it until the voting was complete, and we’d picked it. I’d forgotten it’s a YA novel, but so far Winnie hasn’t gotten on my nerves the way many YA protagonists have done in the past few years. The main problem I’m having with the book is the info dumping, as Dennard felt it necessary to throw a lot of information about the world at the reader in the first couple of chapters, instead of letting things flow more naturally. I’m hoping that, as the story progresses, we’ll get fewer infodumps, but if they keep going and keep on bringing the flow of the story to an abrupt halt, I might just set it aside. We’ll see. It’s not terribly long, so I might just finish it regardless.

21 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: January 15, 2022

  1. Seeing you getting back into Doyle’s Holmes stories reminded me Doyle wrote more than just Holmes but I’ve never read anything except those. Have you ever tried any of his other stories, and if so what did you think of them?

  2. I’ve been wondering about The Pale Blue Eye — sounds like I should watch it! I thought Wednesday was lots of fun too. I’m hoping to start the Emily Wilde book by the end of the week. I keep seeing such great reviews! Wishing you and Mina a cozy week. 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed Wednesday, I am not familiar with the movie so I need to queue that up. The Pale Blue Eye was interesting, the conclusion caught me off guard. I am encouraged to learn that The Luminaries is not the typical YA novel, I’ll keep this in mind.

  4. You haven’t seen the Addams Family movie from the 90s with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston? You’re in for a treat! It’s so funny and delightfully weird. I’ve only seen the first one of them, though, so I have no opinion on the second one.

    So far, The Luminaries is okay. Nothing groundbreaking, lots of info dumping. I’m about a quarter of the way through, and it’s fine. I’ll keep going for now and see how it goes.

  5. Pale Blue Eye was pretty good, though I really wonder why basically the entire cast was British. Were there no American actors available? Still, the costumes were incredible, and it had such a creepy mood to it all.

    I hope you have a cozy week, too! Mina is currently sprawled out on her blanket next to the radiator, so she’s as cozy as can be.

  6. I haven’t read anything of Doyle’s except for the Sherlock Holmes stories. Maybe I will later on this year? There’s a three-week gap in the sub stack to imitate the three years between ‘The Final Problem’ and ‘The Empty House’, so maybe I’ll try some of them then. I guess we’ll see.

  7. I saw the movie last night. During the intro (if you recall) when the Christmas carolers were at their house and Grandmama and Lurch were dumping the cauldron on them – that is from an original 1950s carton.

  8. I liked Colette too and agree Knightley did a great job. Totally agree with you about Melling in Pale Blue Eye, but I enjoyed it too. I enjoy watching Bale in movies.

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