Quick sum-up this time, as I have a few things going on at the moment.
We’ve had a couple of days of snow this week, though neither day gave us very much– a couple of inches at most. Enough to be pretty, but not enough to cause real problems. Which I’m fine with. They got a couple of feet of snow the other day in towns a couple of hours west of us, so the two inches we got are just fine.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
I bought a new nightstand for my bedroom. It’s quite nice, and it didn’t take me very long to put it together.
Mina is thrilled with the new box, which is about three feet long, a foot and a half wide, and about a foot tall. It’s big enough that it serves as a sizable house for her, and she will happily spend all evening hanging out in it if I’ll let her. I don’t let her, though. At some point, she needs to get out and play, and I prefer it when she sleeps on the bed next to me, rather than in a box. But she gets a couple of hours to hang out in the box– or she has gotten that, as I’ll be collapsing it later today to put it in the recycling.
But she’s having fun while it lasts.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band‘ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This was the story sent out by the Letters from Watson substack last week. It’s one I’ve read several times before, and I enjoy it every time. It features a woman, Helen Stoner, who comes to London seeking Holmes’s aid after experiencing a terrifying night that is eerily similar to the night her twin sister died two years earlier. Helen’s stepfather is a terrifying man, and she is afraid something will happen to her before her marriage which is meant to happen in a fortnight. Holmes immediately agrees to help her, and he and Watson head out into the countryside to find out what is going on. Though I’ve read this many times and have seen the Granada episode a few times, too, Doyle’s description of what happens is always a little creepy and the ending is thoroughly satisfying. I joined the Discord server that goes along with this substack, and the conversation surrounding the story was a lot of fun. The next story we’ll be getting is ‘The Adventure of the Resident Patient’.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Luminaries by Susan Dennard, audiobook narrated by Caitlin Davies (71%)
- Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages by Dan Jones (358/656)
- Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo (93/481)
Oh, the angst of a YA novel. I’d forgotten about all of that since it’s been a while since I’d read one. But I suppose Winnie has reason to be angsty, as things have taken quite the turn for her, and she’s getting in over her head. I had a bit of trouble with the book earlier in the week when I hit a point in the story where I thought, ‘do I even care about what happens next?’, but I ended up carrying on, and I’m enjoying it well enough. Dennard is turning some tropes around and thankfully doesn’t have a love triangle going on. She also doesn’t bother with the whole ‘the Main Character is awful to all the other girls because she’s Special’ thing, either. Thankfully. Otherwise, I really would DNF it. I’m pretty sure I know where the story is going, but I’m enjoying it enough to keep going and find out if I’m right or not. I have a feeling there will be a sequel, so we’ll see if the book ends on a cliffhanger or not.
Dan Jones is one of those popular historians who makes history come alive for his readers (or viewers, if you watch his documentaries). He’s never precious about the historical figures he discusses, and he makes them seem like the fallible humans they were. He’s also able to draw parallels to modern events and can point out historical events whose consequences are still affecting us today. Powers and Thrones takes the reader from the last decades of the Roman Empire in the west to the Rise of Byzantium, the founding of Islam and the rise of Arab and Persian nations, to Charlemagne and his battles in Frankia, to the many many Crusades, and the empire Genghis Khan founded. That’s all the farther I’ve gotten, but it has been fascinating reading so far, even though much of it is a review for me. Still, it’s good to ensure that you have a solid foundation before you dive deeper into a topic, and I will certainly be doing that thanks to the Medieval history books I’ve recently picked up from the used bookstore downtown.
I’ve been waiting for Leigh Bardugo’s Hell Bent since I finished its predecessor, Ninth House back in 2019. I had pre-ordered it from Barnes and Noble last spring, but for whatever reason, that fell through. Which was actually kind of a good thing, as I found out that the Barnes and Noble edition has a red cover that I didn’t like. I ended up ordering from the indie bookshop downtown, and I picked it up on my day off. As I had some time to kill before I could run my next errand, I headed over to a coffee shop and started reading. So far, so good. I’m even more invested in Alex’s story now that she is more settled in her position at Yale, and I love that Dawes has a greater role in the story. I’m not very far in, but so far a lot of things have happened that have me in suspense. I’m going to try to take it a bit slowly, though, as I’ve heard this is book two of a trilogy, and I don’t know how long it will be before book three comes out.
13 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: January 22, 2023”
Pictures are gorgeous and I’m so glad you got Mina a box!!
I enjoyed viewing the snow photos. It’s nice when you get just enough to enjoy but not so much as to cause problems. And the prints reminded me of yesterday when my father and I found a set of prints in the sand along the rivers edge that we thought might be a coyote. They could have been a dog but there didn’t appear to be a trail along the beach as we’d have expected and no human foot prints of the owner. But I’m no expert with prints, so who knows? Fun to ponder them, though.
Aww, cats and boxes.
Love the winter landscape photos. I recently completed The Golden Compass, and they reminded me of it, esp the one with the paw prints.
Beautiful snow pictures! Sounds like Mina loved her box — reminds me of my son when he was little. 🙂 I’m so hesitant about picking up Hell Bent. I just really didn’t retain much of the detail from the first book, and I really DON’T want to do a re-read… but I would like to see where the story goes.
Thanks! Mina still loves the box, because I didn’t get around to collapsing and recycling it yesterday… She gets to have it for another couple of days, I guess.
I think think you need to remember a huge number of details from Ninth House. You could probably find a good summary for it online, and then move on to Hell Bent.
Thanks! I can’t resist little paw prints in the snow. I usually only find squirrel tracks, though.
Thanks! It was the perfect amount of snow both times. Most of it melted today, and the rest will probably go tomorrow unless it’s in the shade. But it was pretty while it lasted.
I haven’t collapsed the box yet, so Mina gets to keep it another couple of days!
Those are some gorgeous photos, Kim! Amazing. 😮 We’re about to get a huge layer of snow tonight and I can’t wait to see what it’ll all look like in the morning.
I saw sooooo many copies of Hell Bent pre-ordered and stacked for pick up behind the counter at all the NYC bookshops I went to recently hahah I hope you enjoy it when you get around to it!
By the way, have you ever read any non-Tolkien-written books about Middle-Earth or Tolkien himself that you’d recommend? Almost done reading The Return of the King and plan on reading more of Tolkien’s stuff and who better to ask than the Tolkien head herself. 😀
I’ve read both of Tom Shippey’s books about Middle-earth (The Road to Middle-earth and Tolkien: Author of the Century), the first part of John D. Rateliff’s History of the Hobbit. I’ve also read The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and Humphrey Carpenter’s Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as multiple essays by scholars like Dimitra Fimi and Verlyn Flieger. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull have a fantastic reader’s companion for The Lord of the Rings, as well. I haven’t yet read Carl F. Hostetter’s The Nature of Middle-earth, but I’ve heard good things about it. That’s what I can think of offhand.
As for non-Lord of the Rings things, there’s always The Silmarillion and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, The Fall of Gondoln, and The Fall of Numenor. Those will keep you in Middle-earth. There’s also the 13-volume History of Middle-earth, which takes you far into the weeds of the lore of the Legendarium and has all the primary drafts of The Lord of the Rings, as well as multiple versions of things like The Tale of Beren and Luthien. I haven’t gotten through all of it yet, though I plan to get there this year.
If you have a mind for Tolkien’s non-Middle-earth tales, there’s always Roverandom, Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major, and The Father Christmas Letters on the lighter side, and his translation of Beowulf, The Story of Kullervo, The Tale of Sigurd and Gudrun, The Fall of Arthur, and The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun. Many of these works are in a rough state, as Tolkien didn’t bring a lot of his work to a state he was satisfied with for publication. The was Christopher Tolkien who spent the rest of his life compiling the Professor’s work and publishing it.
Thank you so much for the exhaustive list! I clearly got plenty to check out for sure! Just finishing up going through the annexes in the Return of the King. I’ll be diving into Silmarillion next! 😀
You’re welcome! There is a wealth of scholarship about Tolkien and Middle-earth, so even this list just scratches the surface!
I hope you enjoy The Silmarillion. It’s super dense, but there are some amazing stories there.