Sunday Sum-Up: April 2, 2023

It’s spring in Nebraska, so that means we’ve been having some interesting weather. Fortunately, we haven’t had any tornadoes, but in my neck of the woods, it’s meant 50-degree temperature swings in a single day and a nice windstorm that knocked my internet service offline (again). I’m not complaining about it, as March has given us much worse in the past– blizzards, tornadoes, fires, floods… Now that April has come around, I’m looking forward to things greening up a bit. The weather is still going to do whatever it wants, but it will be with flowers blooming.


Obligatory Mina Photo:

We’ve had two days where it was nice enough outside for me to open the windows for the first time this year. Mina was thrilled, as she got to listen to the birds and get some fresh sniffs. She’s not one of those cats who will fall asleep on the windowsill in a patch of sunlight, but she does enjoy spending an hour or two watching the world go by.

Except when that one dog comes along. She’s fine with most of the dogs that go by our building, but there’s that one dog that scares her. When it shows up, she immediately leaves her perch in the window and sits somewhere else for a while. But when she thinks enough time has passed she’ll hop back up into the window

What I Finished Reading Last Week

  • The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful by Sharon Gosling
  • Learning to Talk by Hilary Mantel

I stumbled across an inexpensive copy of Sharon Gosling’s behind-the-scenes book about the Gothic Victorian horror series from Showtime, Penny Dreadful (2014-2016), and because Penny Dreadful is one of my favorite shows of all time, I couldn’t pass it up. Gosling’s book goes behind the scenes about pretty much every aspect of the show and the people who helped create it. She provides character profiles of the main cast, provides production notes about key scenes from the first season, and goes in-depth about the storyline and the characters’ motives for their actions. The book is full of full-color production stills and behind-the-scenes photos that help to illustrate how they made sections of Dublin look like late-Victorian London, how they created the monsters that appear in the show, and how they incorporated characters from Victorian literature like Dorian Gray and Victor Frankenstein. As a fan of Penny Dreadful, this book was a delight all the way through, and I recommend it to other fans of the show.

Learning to Talk is a collection of Hilary Mantel’s short stories that provide insights- of a sort- into her early life in the north of England, though, because it’s fiction, it’s hard to say “this scene or this story is fully biographical”. While I adore Mantel’s writing, I wasn’t fully taken in by most of the stories, as it was hard to define a through-line for the plots. It doesn’t help that short stories aren’t my preferred storytelling format. Just when I’m getting used to the narrator’s voice, the story is over and I’m moving on to something else. But overall I’m glad that I read it, even if I wasn’t drawn into these stories like I was for another of Mantel’s short stories: ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”.

What I’m Currently Reading:

  • Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo (15/480)
  • The Binding by Bridget Collins, audiobook narrated by Carl Prekopp (33%)

After watching the second season of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, I kept wanting to reread Six of Crows. So I did. It’s been a while since I read this, and it’s been so interesting coming back to it, as I had forgotten a bunch of the details. I’d also forgotten how implausibly young the characters in the book are. Yes, I know it’s a YA novel and YA fantasy characters are often implausibly young, but expecting me to believe that at sixteen or so, Kaz is able to plan and execute major civil engineering projects is stretching my ability to suspend my disbelief. But I have managed to suspend it, and I’m enjoying this reread despite how quickly it’s paced. It feels a bit like a speed run through the Ice Court heist, as so many big things have already happened. But while I like the book, I have to admit it: I kind of prefer the Netflix series, thanks to the characters having been aged up. I love how Amita Suman and Kit Young have brought Inej and Jesper to life, and I love the dark charisma Freddy Carter has brought to Kaz. At 30, I find Carter’s version of Kaz a lot more believable. That said, I’m still enjoying this reread, and once I’ve finished with Six of Crows, I will probably immediately start Crooked Kingdom. Because the banter and the relationships between all the characters are the highlights of these stories for me. I don’t know what it is about Bardugo’s characters that I find so appealing (over all the other YA fantasies I’ve read), but it’s their complicated relationships that I care about over the heists they pull off. Honestly, I could read about Kaz, Inej, Jesper, and all the others bickering about where to go for dinner, and I’d be happy.

I figured I would be finished with The Binding by now, but I never found myself wanting to pick it up over the week, until I finally just told myself to pull it up in Libby and push play while getting ready for work yesterday morning. I listened for a while after work, too, but ended up having to set the playback speed to 2x, not because I wanted to get through it that much faster, but because Prekopp’s narration is so slow. I started out at 1.5 speed, and it felt like I was hanging on every word, and there were vast gaps from one word to the next. Speeding it up made it much easier to listen to. But I’m not sure if I’m going to want to continue listening, because while Collins’ writing is beautiful, the pacing is terribly slow. We’re given tiny pieces of story here and there, but it’s taken so long for anything to get moving that I’m starting to have trouble caring about Emmett and his troubles. I’ve already pieced together what I think happened to bring him to Seredith’s house in the first place, and it feels like Emmett is being deliberately slow on the uptake. But given what I think has happened, I suppose I can forgive him that. But I’m still not sure if I’m going to finish it. I’ll give it until the 50% mark, though I’m not thrilled with the turn the story has taken. From the beginning of the story and the synopsis, I’d assumed we were getting an in-depth character study blended with strange magic and the art of bookmaking, but things have taken a distinctly unhappy turn and now politics and social hierarchies seem to be entering into it, and I’m just not here for that right now, with this book. But again, I’ll give it a while longer before I make up my mind as to whether or now I’ll finish it.

4 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: April 2, 2023

  1. Thanks I was interested in your take on the Binding. I guess I’ll skip that for now. YA books make good summertime beach reading can’t take them too series. The Netflix series is killing me. I find it too crazy and have to watch every episode 2x. I’m forcing myself to finish the season. No interest in season 3

  2. Yeah, The Binding started out wonderfully, but I just don’t want to keep picking it up. I’m even debating if I want to give it to the 50% mark…. Yeah, you can’t take YA too, but the youthful shenanigans make me roll my eyes so often I generally can’t even make them beach reads (or whatever you call the equivalent in the upper midwest). I’m honestly okay with the pacing of season 2 of Shadow and Bone. The books are super quick, too, and I’m loving all the character moments. I’m hoping we get a third season and the potential Crows spinoff series.

  3. I’ve been debating whether to continue with Shadow & Bone. I watched season 1, then read the trilogy, but when I picked up Six of Crows, I just didn’t feel like staying in that world. I also haven’t had a ton of patience with the whole teen hero trope in recent years, so there’s that. Maybe I’ll still get to the Netflix season eventually — although it does sound like you would recommend giving the books a try too.

  4. One of the good things about the Netflix show is that they aged the characters up. Most of them are in their twenties or early thirties, so they’re much more believable when they do all the things. I know some people didn’t like the packing of season 2, but I thought it was just fine. Of course, I’m not bothered by film/TV adaptations that don’t perfectly adhere to the source, so there’s that. I’m just glad to have a well-made fantasy series where the actors were so perfectly cast, with lovely production design and mostly solid writing. There are a few parts of the script that felt a little awkward, but they didn’t bug me in the long run.

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