Sunday Sum-Up

Another week has come and gone, and once again I’m wondering where all that time went. I really need to get that temporal vortex out of my closet. I know some of the time was spent in finally watching Stranger Things on Netflix, and a little bit was spent watching Will. As for the rest of it? I dunno. Not nearly enough of it was spent sleeping.

*sighs*

DSC01749I only finished one of the books I started the week with, and that was Sarah J. Maas’s Crown of Midnight, the second book in the Throne of Glass series. I’ll have a longer write-up later this week, but for now I’ll just say that, while Maas’s writing has improved somewhat, I’m still not a fan. It was fun to do the buddy read with Danielle from Books, Vertigo & Tea, though, and I’m hoping she’ll want to do it again.

 

The other book I’ve been reading is Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion, which is one of my all-time favorite books. If you want a master class in world building and political intrigue in a fantasy setting, then this is the book for you. The characters are beautifully written and utterly believable, and even the villains have logical reasons for what they do. And while the world of the five gods has more books, The Curse of Chalion can act as a standalone novel if you’re not in the mood to embark on yet another lengthy series. I’ll have a further review when I finish it.

In other news, I picked up a couple more books this week, because why not? One was a ‘blind date with a classic’ from one of the indie bookstores downtown. My last experience with a ‘blind date’ book was dreadful, as I ended up with Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, which remains the only book I’ve ever thrown at a wall. This one sounded more interesting, though, and given that it was in the classics section I figured another Philippa Gregory incident would be unlikely.

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So what did I get?

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It looks fascinating. I’m debating taking it to Iceland with me to read on the plane. We shall see.

I bought two books in all last night. Passing because of the intrigue factor of the ‘blind date with a classic’, and The Ramayana, because I want to develop a better understanding of more literature from around the world.

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What’s up for this week? Lots of preparation. I leave for Iceland on August eighth, and while I’m prepared as far as reservations, passports, and currency, I will need to do laundry and give my apartment a good cleaning so I don’t have to do that when I get home and am exhausted and jet-lagged. I’ll also need to figure out how to pack my camera gear, since I’m taking most of it with me and security restrictions regarding electronics are higher these days. C’est la vie.

As for books, I’ll read what I can. I should finish up The Curse of Chalion in the next day or so, and then it’ll be on to Ann Cleeves’s Raven Black, a mystery series set in the Shetland Islands off the northern Scottish coast. I have a friend who grew up in the Shetlands, so I’m interested in where he’s from. Also, there’s a great TV series based on the books, Shetland. I think there are only about eight episodes, but it’s fantastic. It’s available on Netflix streaming, though you’ll probably want to turn on the subtitles as their accents are quick thick.

I started listening to a new-to-me podcast today. It’s called Writing Excuses, and features four writers who discuss various elements of writing and how to do things like world building and pointing out that descriptions of a thing can change drastically based on a character’s point of view. It’s entertaining and three episodes in (they’re all about 15-20 minutes long), the hosts have given me a lot to think about regarding my own writing and in the books I’d reading.

Sunday Sum-Up

So this week was up and down. It marked my last pottery class. We spent most of our time glazing or otherwise decorating our pots and cups in between playing with a cute dog (one of the students brought her dog because her neighbors were going nuts with the fireworks, and the poor pup was terrified) and eating cookies. It was a good way to end a fun class.

On Independence Day, I went over to friends’ for dinner and fireworks. I didn’t light any of the fireworks. I just tried to photograph them. That didn’t go well, and it all ended when I’d had enough of  being bitten by mosquitoes. I went inside just in time to watch my friends send up five of the six artillery shells they’d bought. The last one did not launch properly and blew up about five feet off the ground, which made for a loud and unpleasant surprise. While one of my friends screamed quite shrilly, no one was harmed.

Friday was an awful day. It started out just fine, but I’d been at work for about fifteen minutes when our internet service went out and remained out all day long. I spent far too many frustrating minutes on the phone trying to get through to our internet provider and got precisely nowhere. While my coworkers did manage to get through, they got different stories about what was wrong. Our service was finally restored Saturday morning, and all the tech could say was “X happened, and I have no idea why. Everything’s working now, though, so have a nice day”.

It was enough to drive a girl to drinking. Or to the bookstore. I went to the bookstore. Naturally.

I finished three books this week! Two of them were novellas, so I don’t feel like this was a mind-boggling feat. The first was Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, which I loved!  Sjón’s Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is good, but a little strange. I was expecting the strangeness, but the very ending was just weird and it was hard to tell what, exactly Sjón meant there, even though I read the last couple of pages a few times to try and figure out what had happened. Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom is an amazing and somewhat disturbing novella set in New York in 1920. It has hints of H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos, and while I have a love/meh relationship with that particular flavor of horror, The Ballad of Black Tom is one of the best Lovecraftian tale I’ve ever read.

 

My current reads include Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and I just picked up Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister today after it came in for me at the library. I’ve never read any of Mark Lawrence’s other books, but I’ve only heard good things about Red Sister. It is apparently another teenage-girl-assassin book. My track record hasn’t been very good with that type of book, but I’m looking forward to this one.

Looking at these covers side by side, I realize just how different they are. Their similarities? They are both about young women, and both are written in English. We’ll see if they share anything else.

I found another podcast! LeVar Burton ReadsIn this podcast, LeVar Burton performs short works of fiction, mostly science fiction (which surprises no one), with some sound effects and a bit of music to help set scene and mood. I’ve only listened to one episode so far, The Lighthouse Keeper, but I loved it and plan to listen to more of them later today. It is a little weird listening to it, given that I watched both Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation, both of which he starred in. I’d watch Star Trek: TNG one night, and then watch Reading Rainbow the next day. It was strange to watch Geordie LaForge talk about kids’ books, but my six year-old self got over it quickly enough. LeVar Burton Reads is the grown-up version of Reading Rainbow.

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Cover Story: Linkage

After a busy week last week, and a bit of weekend traveling for a wedding, I haven’t read as much as I wanted to. I’m in the midst of a couple of different books: The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax, which is about the resurgence of (suprise!) analog things like vinyl albums, Moleskine notebooks, and film cameras. The other book is The Hunt for Vulcan… And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson, which chronicles 19thcentury astronomers’ and mathematicians’ search for a planet that doesn’t exist based on the fact that Mercury didn’t move the way Newtonian physics said it should. It sounds a little dry, but so far it’s pretty interesting.

Though I haven’t had a lot of reading time, I’ve been listening to a bunch of podcasts. The fun ones are design-based, specifically from 99% Invisible:

Negative Space: Logo Design

Cover Story

The Green Book

Roman Mars, the host of 99% Invisible, did a TED Talk that’s about flag design, not books, but it’s still super interesting:

Why city flags may be the worst-designed things you’ve never noticed

A couple of other TED Talks by Chip Kidd dealing with cover design:

Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is

The art of first impressions- in design and life

That’s all for now. I’m hoping to finish up my current reads over the next couple of days, and then on to some graphic novels.

Wait! I just reminded myself of another podcast- Imaginary Worlds, hosted by Eric Molinsky. The most recent episode is about Will Eisner and how he helped to guide both comics and graphic novels into the forms as we know them now.

The Spirit of Will Eisner