This seems to be the week of spontaneous posts, because I wasn’t planning this post any more than I was the pancake book tag post but then it occurred to me that it was about the right time for a middle-of-the-month reading check-in and I happen to have some time on my hands while I’m waiting for my work files to package, and also if I don’t talk about these books I will explode. That happens to me sometimes.
Explosions aside, I also have some news: I signed up for Asian Bookish Creators! ABC is a directory created by Shut Up, Shealea to bring greater visibility to Asian book bloggers, bookgrammers, and booktubers. Also Shealea made this list of Chinese-authored books you can read instead of watching the new Mulan, so you should definitely check her out.
Mid-Month Reading Stats
8 books finished // 2,828 pages read
4 books finished // 1,251 pages read
6 books finished // 2,048 pages read
It’s been an eventful month as far as reading goes; I’ve beaten my August slump, even if I do take a day off reading every now and then, and I’m pretty pleased with my progress. So far I’ve finished the three books I was reading at the beginning of the month, and I’ve also finished another three that weren’t actually on my list but still sneaked onto my nightstand anyway. In my defense, one of those was a free eBook and one of them I read in preparation for The Map of Chaos. I regret nothing.
I’m fairly proud of myself: of the three books I’m reading right now, two were on my official September TBR, and I see no reason I shouldn’t be able to get to the other three before October starts. Fingers crossed I’ll finish September strong, I do have a bad habit of slacking off.
The Priory of the Orange Tree
Current rating: 3 stars.
I’ve got at least 99 problems with this book, and all of them are preventing me from starting the second quarter, which I’m supposed to read by Sunday. I’d better get on that.
The Book of Night Women
Current rating: 4-5 stars.
I’ve been meaning to read this since August and now it’s finally happening and IT IS SO GOOD. I normally wait till I’ve finished a book to sort it onto my different goodreads shelves, but I’ve already added Night Women to badass women and heartbreakers.
The Book of Night Women follows Lilith, a slave on a Jamaican sugar plantation, from birth through adulthood. Her mother dies giving birth to her, and she is mostly raised by Circe, another slave. After Circe tries to arrange for Lilith to be raped by a Johnny-jumper, and after Lilith murders the Johnny-jumper with his own sword, a woman named Homer steps in and hides Lilith in the cellar. She later tries to initiate Lilith into the Night Women, a clandestine group plotting a slave revolt, but is unsuccessful. Lilith initially is relatively fortunate, compared to the other slaves on the plantation, but her luck runs out at her owner’s New Year’s Eve ball, where she is beaten and gang-raped by the slave-drivers in punishment for spilling soup on a white woman. This apparently is not enough, and she is put through several weeks of flogging at the behest of Isobel Roget, Lilith’s owner’s bitchy love interest, after which she is packed off to Coulibre, the Rogets’ estate. Through it all, Lilith learns more and more about the dark powers with which she was born, using them unintentionally against people who have either gotten in her way or tried to harm her. She hasn’t learned to control them yet, but she’s been spending a lot of time thinking about treating the Rogets the way they’ve been treating their slaves, and I’m really hoping she gets to turn her powers loose against the people who have hurt her. Homer just showed up at Coulibre, so Lilith will probably get initiated into the Night Women properly this time, and if we’re all really good maybe she’ll get to run riot with her powers in this revolt the Night Women have been planning.
My one complaint is that Lilith is incredibly frustrating in the beginning. Even after narrowly escaping punishment for the murder of the Johnny-jumper, she quickly grows tired of hiding in the cellar and starts saying she’s the prettiest, she’s the mistress’s favorite, she’s tired of staying in the damn cellar. She threatens to hand the Night Women over to the mistress and stubbornly insists that the mistress favors her despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. She accuses Homer, who has done nothing but protect her, of trying to seduce her. She refuses to take seriously Homer’s attempts to hide her from the view of the mistress, who is (1) crazy and (2) a bitch, and deliberately puts herself in front of the mistress. I’m all for thinking for yourself, but Homer has saved her ass so many times that this seems like a poor way to repay her. On the other hand, Lilith is a teenager, she hasn’t been overly exposed to the viciousness of the plantation owners and wants to lead a better life, and Circe was a terrible mother, so I can’t blame her for not trusting Homer right away. She’s also been learning to control her mouth and bide her time while planning other things, so she’s definitely growing. She was happy to see Homer at Coulibre, and I’m hoping she’ll start seeing her now as a mother figure instead of a potential molester. I’m not really sure why Homer takes as much crap from Lilith as she does – for a while I was thinking maybe she was Lilith’s mother, but Lilith’s mother died in the opening scene giving birth to Lilith, so that’s a no-go. Maybe she’s Lilith’s aunt as well as her half-sister? There has to be some kind of personal connection.
Speaking of theories, I am 100% convinced Isobel is pregnant because of the incident with the soup and you cannot convince me otherwise. Of course, it doesn’t really matter either way because I still hate her and I really hope Lilith gets to curse her. I don’t understand how anybody can order a flogging, much less sit on a porch and watch with a smile as a human being is beaten to a pulp. My grudges are insane, but I’d never be able to watch somebody get flogged over and over again week in and week out unless that somebody was, I don’t know, Hitler. I don’t understand how a woman like Isobel can call herself a lady and still demand that her spineless plantation-owning woman-beating boyfriend punish one slave repeatedly for a “crime” that wasn’t committed intentionally. (Speaking of woman-beating, Robert Quinn better get his ass back here because he can’t just leave me with a cliffhanger like that and he needs to tell me what fucking happened in Venice.) If there’s one thing this book has done, it’s made me realize I would never make it as a plantation owner because my workers would all be making $15 an hour and if they did something bad they’d be put into time-out and all the other plantation owners would gang up on me and steal my land and enslave my workers. I know, I’m ridiculous.
Anyway, all of this is to say that I’m still convinced Isobel is carrying a new slave-holder and now I have to go read the rest of the book and find out. There’s only 204 pages between me and the end, so I’m planning to finish up tonight. I’m hoping I’ll finish before 2 in the morning, because I can’t keep staying up till 2 in the morning. The book is written in Jamaican patois and I’ve been having some trouble with it, but that’s good – it’s making me pay attention, and I keep having to stop and google words I don’t know, so I’m learning a lot.
The Map of Chaos
Current rating: 4-5 stars.
This is the third book of Félix J. Palma’s Trilogía Victoriana, and so far it’s really interesting. I actually like it better at this point than The Map of the Sky (book 2), and possibly even better than The Map of Time (book 1). I’m only 133 pages in, though, so I’m withholding judgement. Each book of the trilogy is loosely based on one of H.G. Wells’s novels: The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky were based on The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, respectively, and The Map of Chaos is based on The Invisible Man. I was prepared this time, and read The Invisible Man before starting The Map of Chaos. So far Chaos has had a long epilogue that turned out to be a story written by H.G. Wells’s fictionalized wife and an even longer saga about Inspector Clayton’s first case with the supernatural branch of Scotland Yard, but now the invisible man has turned up and is trying to kill people, so I’m starting to get into the plot proper. (Also, Jane’s story was surprisingly violent. Learning some new things about you here, Jane.)
The only thing I’m puzzling over right now is the synopsis on the inside flap, which describes Inspector Clayton as “the mysterious protagonist.” I’m not really sure how he’s mysterious? I mean, he was in Map of the Sky and it’s true that he spent a large portion of it unconscious because he has a tendency to faint at odd moments, which I think is going to be explained in the next chapter of Chaos, but it’s not like we’re being introduced to him for the first time and there haven’t been any attempts to disguise his identity, so I don’t know. Maybe it would be best not to think about it.