Sunday Sum Up

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Really. It’s been hot this week. I’m sitting here with a big fan about three feet from my face. The high temperatures might be part of the reason I devoured Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman in two days. Thinking of a snowy Norway helps keep my mind off the oncoming summer.

On the bright side, I’m taking a pottery class starting this week. I haven’t touched clay since I was in college, so I’ll be brushing up on some very rusty skills and maybe come out of it with a cup or bowl or two. I’ll keep you posted!

In addition to The Snowman, I finished up Conn Iggulden’s Bloodline and Jacqueline Carey’s Miranda and Caliban.

 


I am currently reading three books, and I’ll have to start another one pretty soon. I have several eBooks on hold from my library, and they usually auto-download when they come available, so I’ll be minding my business and all of a sudden a book shows up on my phone. The books I’m working on are The Black Company by Glen Cook, The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel, and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen is the most recent download.

 


I’ve read fifty-three pages of The Black Company, and I’m still not sure what I think about it. The characters are certainly interesting, but the plot is flitting around a little, and it’s hard to get a sense of exactly what’s going on, what with all the “that sucked, so we’re going over there. But we found out that it sucked over there, too, so now we’re going here”. I could do with a little more description of the events and the world, honestly, but I’m probably going to give it to page one-hundred before giving up on it.

The Glass Universe is as interesting as Sobel’s other books, but there are so many names to keep track of! Also, I’d thought it would revolve around the women of the story, but there is a lot to do with the men. It makes sense, given that it’s the men who are running the program that hired the women to process and interpret all the information they gathered, but still.

I haven’t really started on The Bear and the Nightingale yet. I glanced at the first page, was intrigued, and then decided that I should work on The Glass Universe on my lunch break today. I haven’t started The Star-Touched Queen at all. I don’t mind being in the midst of four books at once, but I’d like to get my mind made up about The Black Company and get closer to finishing The Glass Universe.

In other news, I ended up with two free tickets to see A Quiet Passion tonight, so I’m taking a friend out for a movie and drinks. Neither of us knows much about it besides the facts that it’s about Emily Dickinson and it’s been very well reviewed.

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Sunday Sum Up

Another Sunday has come around, and it is definitely June outside. You wouldn’t think that an 86°F day with low humidity would be so stifling, but there’s not a breath of wind outside so the air is just sitting there, slowly cooking under a sunless sky.

I am not looking forward to summer.

Anyway. I’ll cross that muggy bridge when I get there. Right now, books! I finished three of them this week- The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein, Margaret of Anjou by Conn Iggulden, and Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes (I’ll post a review for this later in the week).


I’ve already started two other books, Bloodline by Conn Iggulden, which is the third installment of his Wars of the Roses series. Thanks to a gripping plot and fascinating characters, I read in bed for an hour longer than I intended to, so I’m already to page 125. Looks like I’ll be finishing this one in a hurry. Because I always like to have a digital book handy in case of long lines at the grocery store or whatever, I downloaded Jacqueline Carey’s Miranda and Caliban, because who doesn’t love a good Shakespeare retelling? I’ve never read Carey’s work before, so I’m looking forward to it.

 

In other news, the podcast Invisibilia is back for a new season! It’s an offshoot of the stellar Radiolaband the first two episodes deal with emotions, how they are made, and the their consequences in both everyday and extreme circumstances. I’d be listening to it right now, but I can’t listen to people talking and type at the same time. Might have to hurry through the writing of this!

Neil Gaiman has been working to raise awareness and money for the plight of refugees around the world, so when the comedian Sara Benincasa jokingly asked if he would do a reading of the Cheesecake Factory menu if she raised $500,000 for refugees, he agreed. The campaign has raised just over $87,000 so far. You can find it here:  neil-gaiman-will-do-a-live-reading-of-the-cheesecake-factory-menu-if-we-raise-500000-for-refugees. The minimum donation is $10, so chip in if you can. It’s a worthy cause.

Sunday Sum-Up

I seem to have spent this week catching up on the number of books I’ve read for the month, because I started and finished three titles, and began reading three more.  Most of these books were eBooks I sent to my forlorn little Nook, after having neglected it for a few weeks. Once I updated all the apps. Again (does it seem to anyone else like you have to update the stupid things every twenty minutes or so?). I feel like I cheated a little on the books I finished. They were relatively short (around 200 pages), and had a lot of pictures and block quotes.

In Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton discusses how a secular society can benefit from certain aspects of religious culture, establishments, and art. As modern society moves further from religion, de Botton talks about the various elements of religion- art and architecture, the social acts of charity, rules for behavior, forgiveness of human frailties, etc.- and how they can benefit a secular culture without requiring belief in a god or gods. It’s an interesting read, though sometimes it reads like de Botton assumes that non-religious people have somehow lost the ability to appreciate religious art or traditions, and so he can come off as a little arrogant.

The Book of Hygge discusses the Danish notion of hygge, which roughly translates to the quality of coziness. It’s a trend that blew up, as far as I can tell, last fall and winter and had people curling up with fluffy blankets and hot chocolate while reading books by candlelight. At its core, its a notion of living that helped (and helps) the Danes survive their long, dark, freezing winters. The Book of Hygge isn’t really a how-to book for the lifestyle. It’s more of an extended definition as it relates to things like wellness and the home. I almost think that you could check out a few blog posts (like this one), apply those concepts to whatever seems clever to apply it to, and just skip the book unless you’re really into photographs of fluffy towels and bread.

The Architecture of Happiness is another title from Alain de Botton in which he discusses how the architecture of our homes, offices, and cities as wholes affects our well-being. Unified, beautiful architecture helps makes us happy. He provides examples like London’s Bedford Square, Parisian residential streets, and places where modernist architecture was designed to seamlessly fit in with centuries’ old structures without losing out on the features of either old or new buildings. At the other end of the spectrum, ill-planned structures such as the giant apartment blocks favored by slumlords and Soviet city planners incite despair and destroy communities. I liked this book more than Religion for Atheists– there was more wit and fewer pretensions- but de Botton still seems to be looking down from his (arguably well-conceived) tower as he explains to us little folk down below what the Grand Architectural Concepts are all about.

My current reads:


Margaret of Anjou,
aka, Trinity (because it apparently needs two titles, just to be confusing) is the second book of Conn Iggulden’s ‘Wars of the Roses’ books. It picks up about a year and a half after Stormbird leaves off. I was initially confused at the start of the book, as it introduces a bunch of new characters, families, and conflicts. I think, though, that I might have been less confused had I not started reading it while waiting at a mechanic’s shop for one of my car’s tires to get fixed with the movie Bridesmaids blaring on the TV. Maybe I caught it at the wrong part, but I didn’t think ti was a very funny movie..

The Red Magician is about a little Jewish girl named Kicsi who lives in a Hungarian village, just before the outbreak of WWII. A magician comes to town with a prophesy of doom and seeks to protect the village, but is thwarted by the town’s rabbi. Then the Nazis arrive and change Kicsi’s world, and she must learn to survive as the battles between good and evil and the Old World and the New World rage around her.

Brief Gaudy Hour is a book I discovered while looking for historical fiction titles about Anne Boleyn for Danielle over at Books, Vertigo and Tea. I’d never heard of it or the author, Margaret Campbell Barnes before. Fortunately my public library had a copy available for download, and I dove right in. The prose is a bit old-fashioned (it was originally published in 1949), but once I got used to it, I was taken in by young Anne’s charms. It opens when she is eighteen and just starting out in the world of court intrigue in both England and France. She’s only a little naive and learns quickly, taking youthful pleasure in her ability to charm men. Margaret Campbell Barnes did not add any portentious elements to her story, but simply let events unfold through Anne’s eyes.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read this weekend. My plans changed overnight, so I’ll be doing a lot more driving than I anticipated. If the weather stays nice and everyone stays healthy, though, it should be a fun few days!

Sunday Sum-Up

Does anyone need some rain? Because we have more than enough around here, and you’re welcome to it. Today is the first sunny day we’ve had for a while, and it will apparently be the last for a while. Le sigh. While the urban living blogs I read are reminding people to get their air conditioners and fans tuned up for the summer, I’m pulling my space heater back out. So it goes.

It occurred to me today that I really haven’t done that much reading this month. I’ve only written down my third completed book for the month when I usually have eight or nine by this point, and I doubt I’ll be able to finish (or even start) the last couple of books on May’s TBR selection. I’m not too disappointed about that, though, as I think I’ve found my gold standard when it comes to historical fiction writers. But more on that in a bit.

This week, I gave up on Sharon Kay Penman’s Falls the Shadow, finished up Conn Iggulden’s The Gates of Rome, and both started and finished Conn Iggulden’s The Wars of the Roses: Stormbird. I also began Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos, and downloaded Roseanne Montillo’s The Lady and Her Monsters via the public library.

So I guess I have been doing a lot of reading this week. Just not a lot of finishing.

What’s up for this week? Finishing what I’ve started. Also, figuring out which is the next book in Iggulden’s Wars of the Roses series. Seriously, Publishers, is it that hard to state which order the books go in somewhere in or on the books themselves? I mean, it’s nice that the author’s other works are listed, but there doesn’t seem to be a particular order to their listing. Thank goodness for bookseriesinorder.com, or I wouldn’t know what order anything was in.