I really need time to quit slipping through my fingers like sand. We are in July, and I have no idea how that happened when I could swear I just got back from LA. After an action-packed May, June was an eyeblink, which I suppose bodes well for the rest of the summer: summer is my worst season, and the sooner it leaves the better. I am already looking forward to fall, as I do every year around this time.

On a non-weather-related note, I almost had an aneurysm earlier this week when my TV abruptly turned off by itself, which made me think I’d have to send it out for repairs that I’d actually have to pay for this time given that the TV is no longer under warranty, but now I think it was overdrawing from the surge protector because I switched it to the outlet and now it’s fine. Which is great, considering the last repair took several weeks and I was out of a living room TV for probably a couple of months because it didn’t occur to me for a while that Samsung might have a repair service.

Circe, of course, has other problems, as it now turns out that she can be trapped by video games. Here she is complaining loudly to the cruel hooman who let her get stuck behind the two Switches and then took pictures like a sadist.

June Reading Stats

Books Finished:

  1. Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom – Louis Sachar
  2. The Princess Bride – William Goldman
  3. Foul Lady Fortune – Chloe Gong
  4. Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
  5. Goblins & Greatcoats – Travis Baldree

Total Pages Read: 1,435

This is embarrassing. I’m going to have to reread Foul Lady Fortune because none of the reveals made any damn sense. This might be a problem with the author – Gong really loves jerking her audience around with ludicrous twists that tend to beggar belief – but it could just as easily be a problem with me, who dragged out the book over two months. And I really don’t know why it took me so long to read the book, because I actually really enjoyed it. As with the Violent Delights books, I fell hard for the FMC; I even loved the MMC this go round, and I am keenly anticipating Last Violent Call, which will presumably explain Juliette’s impending reappearance. I wasn’t expecting Alisa to show up, but she was also a treat. All in all, a very fine book, I just wish the end made sense. I can’t even write a fair review until I’ve reread it, because I can barely explain what I just read.

In less confusing news, Goblins & Greatcoats was a 22-page delight. It was adorable and whimsical and funny as hell, and, though I was waiting for the ultimate twist, I almost cried laughing when it finally happened. It wasn’t a surprise, but it was still hilarious. I got this one for free from the publisher’s website, and I highly recommend giving it a read. I would happily have paid money for it (though I’m still glad it was free, lol). I really hope Baldree continues with the general Legends & Lattes world. I love his writing and his characters and his humor, and I will buy everything he writes as long as it has an ampersand in the title.

In TV-related news, I’ve been hyperfixated on House of the Dragon and the Jurassic Park movies this month, which is why I reread Jurassic Park and am working my way through the relevant chapters in Fire & Blood. (Archmaester Gyldayn is exactly as tiresome as I remembered him being.) HotD 1 was such a bumpy ride that HotD 2 has taken me a bit by surprise, in a good way. I spent season 1 dreading each episode due to the sheer unpleasantness, though the season is far better upon rewatch, but season 2 has been so good. I am extremely impressed with the writers’ ability to faithfully follow the book material while adding some necessary tweaks, such as giving the characters actual personalities; they have also smoothly handled some of the more ambiguous parts of Gyldayn’s narrative. At this point I actually think I prefer HotD to GoT, which was phenomenal in the beginning but gradually became bloated and uninteresting. Don’t even get me started on season 8.

I will have a more detailed post at the end of the season, but at this point (between episodes 3 and 4) I want to weep for Rhaenyra and Alicent, because under other circumstances they could have remained friends. I wish they still could be, even knowing that they will not. I am less pleased with Criston’s progression; he started the series as such a good guy (isn’t it always that kind?), but he is still so bitter over Rhaenyra that he’s let it become his entire personality. This dude’s villain origin story is literally that one time a woman said no to him. She wasn’t even rejecting him, she was proposing an open relationship. And if that isn’t his thing, fine. That is completely valid. But he’s gone so far in the opposite direction from who he was in the first episode that now his season 1 obsession with the purity of his cloak seems almost like a punchline, and I have no idea who he actually is. I think he is lost and angry, and if anybody needs therapy it’s him.

This is no discredit to the actor who plays him – I’ve been watching a lot of cast interviews, and he seems like a lovely guy. But that tantrum he threw to guilt-trip Ser Arryk into trying to assassinate Rhaenyra just seemed so contrived, as did his nonsensical murder of Ser Joffrey at Rhaenyra’s wedding, and, even if he was unhinged over Jaehaerys’s murder and not fully in his right mind, it doesn’t sit well with me. A lot of what he does doesn’t sit well with me. The writers have a solid grip on the main characters, particularly Alicent, Rhaenyra, and Daemon, but they seem less certain about who they want Criston to be. Now, having said that, Criston does send Arryk to assassinate Rhaenyra in Fire & Blood, though we never see their actual conversation. Again, the writers have been very faithful to the book. All the same, I am really hoping he gets some sort of redemption arc. They seem to be setting him up for one, but this is the world of Game of Thrones, and nothing is guaranteed.

As for Jurassic Park, I read it when I was somewhere in the 10-12 range and remembered almost nothing about it, except that Hammond dies cursing his grandkids. The second and third movies were each awful in their own ways, but I have been obsessively watching and rewatching the entire trilogy for the last few weeks, and I am very unhappy that it’s just suddenly disappeared from Peacock despite Google’s claims that it should, in fact, still be on Peacock. Out of the three, the first is of course the best. The second follows Ian Malcolm and his annoying Mary Sue girlfriend and for some reason Vince Vaughn, and the third goes back to Alan Grant as he is bamboozled into helping an unbelievably obnoxious American couple rescue their son from Isla Sorna. The kid is smarter than the parents, who in his place would have died the second their feet touched the ground. I particularly hate his mother, whose only role is to make as much noise as possible and stare at things with her mouth open and her brow slightly furrowed. I wish I were joking. Her character is so stupid and she runs like an ostrich, and I want to strangle her every time she lands on the island and starts screaming into a literal megaphone. Of course, I’d still read the book if there was one, but there isn’t, so I’m going to have to make do with The Lost World. I am praying that Sarah isn’t as annoying in the book as she is in the movie. She didn’t seem too bad in the sample.

Currently Reading

Monday marked the start of a month-long summer reading challenge hosted by Bookshop.org, omg I’m so excited. I would be thrilled to win the grand prize, but honestly even if I all I do is finish the challenge I’ll still get 20% off my next Bookshop order and 20% off a Getaway cabin rental, which to me is totally worth it. I want to get away so badly. I don’t even know where I’m going. I just want to get away. I am so hoping that this challenge will give me a swift kick in the rear, which I kind of need. Maybe it’ll even motivate me to finish off the books I’ve been working on for months.

Sherlock Holmes Complete Collection
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Slowly making my way through The Sign of the Four. So far so good.

A Dictionary of Maqiao
Han Shaogong
Current rating: 4-4.5 stars. This has been a challenging read, and I’m taking my time with it. I’m still laughing at my June self for thinking I could easily finish it off in a week. Set in rural China, the book is a series of closely connected short stories written in dictionary format. It is impossible to summarize, but I have been enjoying it, and foresee no problems in finishing it.

Black Sun
Rebecca Roanhorse
Rereading the first two Between Earth and Sky books in preparation for the third book, which was just released last month. Xiala and Iktan are, as always, my favorites.

Alias Grace
Margaret Atwood
Because my brain noticed that I was in the middle of four books and decided a fifth couldn’t hurt. Considering I’m an Atwood stan, I actually have surprisingly few Atwood reviews, and I started craving an Alias Grace reread out of nowhere, so here we are.

Summer Reading Retreat!

I went to my first-ever reading retreat this month! It was hosted in a lovely B&B up in Lancaster, and included lunch, strawberry lemonade, and dessert. I am newly addicted to pasta salad as a result of this retreat. I am so glad I went: the drive wasn’t too bad, since Lancaster isn’t too far from Towson, and it was so nice to have a half a day just to sit and read, though I wish it had been longer. In addition to the reading, there was a craft activity (which I didn’t participate in, too busy reading) and a trivia game, which my team won, completely to my own shock. I have never won trivia before, but, since this one was obviously book-themed, we swept the field with a total of 30 points WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN 31 IF I’D JUST REMEMBERED THE TITLE FOR ON EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS. I am mildly pissed at myself, but I can’t argue with our overall results. We had a good selection of prizes, and chose the stationery prize bag, from which I got a lovely notepad. Best of all, I was able to make friends with a handful of other serious readers, and I am SO HAPPY about that. I love having bookish friends. I can’t wait till the next retreat; the hosting bookstore is planning on several more over the winter, and with luck I will be able to go to at least half of them.

The only problem: deciding which books I was going to bring, lol. Look, I know the retreat was only six hours, but nobody ever died from being too prepared, right? I have been all over the place with my reading, so my thinking was that I’d bring the Kindle, since I was in the middle of The Princess Bride and Foul Lady Fortune, and then in case the Kindle died or I got bored I would bring some physical books as well. No one is more astonished than I that I actually managed to limit myself to two.

I have got to reread the Victorian trilogy. I’ve never read Pod, but she’s on my list. Of course, this ended up being moot anyway because I read a few chapters of Foul Lady Fortune and spent the rest of the time on The Princess Bride, which I then finished when I went home. It’s amazing what being in a dedicated reading space can do to your motivation.

Father’s Day 2024

This year we celebrated Father’s Day with Pinch of Yum’s gochujang chicken burgers with kimchi bacon jam – not actually a jam, don’t be fooled by the name – served with Checkers fries, coleslaw, and of course rice, and since I got a massive craving for Hawaiian mac salad at the last minute (because of the pasta salad from the reading retreat) we had that as well. I am still kicking myself for not making a full recipe of the mac salad, which did not survive to the end of the dinner, because the portion I kept at home did not last me very long. The burgers were amazing, however, and the kimchi bacon was sheer perfection over rice. That recipe is definitely a keeper.

The perfect end to a good Sunday: watching Archie get coked up on gaba and slowly fall asleep on the rug in front of the hearth.