Wrap-Up: September 2019

  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (★★★★☆)
  • Gideon The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (★★☆☆☆)
  • Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff (★★★★★)
  • Blood+ Adagio Volume 1 by Kumiko Suekane (★★★★★)
  • Blood+ Adagio Volume 2 by Kumiko Suekane (★★★★★)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 5
YEARLY SO FAR: 59

So, as you can see, my intended TBR for September was a massive failure. In general, this month was kind of a #fail in terms of reading; I’m not sure why I read so little. Also, I always feel a bit weird including manga or graphic novels in my reading count, because they’re so damn short! I read both the above manga volumes in under an hour. It feels like cheating to include them, but, I mean, they’re still published volumes with their own Goodreads entries, so…

I am currently reading:

I literally just started A False Report like three seconds ago, but I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time. I decided to start this month because of the Netflix adaptation, which everyone and their mother seems to be watching (literally – my mother, who struggles with English, marathoned the damn thing). I hadn’t intended to start Sorcery of Thorns just yet, even though I’ve had it since June, but everyone is talking about it and I’m so excited about it I just said screw it. I’m enjoying it a lot so far!

In terms of my October TBR, I’m…leaving it up to fate and chance. There’s some classics I’m hoping to read for #Victober (Dracula, Carmilla, Villette) but I also wanted to pick up a couple of thrillers. I also have a nonfiction book all about witches that I desperately want to start soon, especially since I’m heading to Salem next weekend. I’m also really dying to start Serpent and Dove and hoping to get to V.V. James’ Sancutary, both of which are about witches. Oh, and I have a nonfiction book about vampires that I’ve been meaning to read as well. It’s just that time of the year!


Television Update

It’s been a weirdly lazy month for me overall. I’m probably dropping Sharp Objects; it’s just too morbid and sordid for me, and way too slow. Amy Adams gives a fabulous performance but I’m just…not as interested as I want to be.

What I am very happy about is that Elementary‘s final season is on Hulu, though it is as depressing as it is exciting, since Elementary is one of my all-time favorite shows, and I’m desperately sad that this is the final season and that it is only a measly thirteen episodes.

On a whim I started rewatching True Blood, another show I dearly loved before it went totally off the rails with its final season. I mean, it had begun to deteriorate, in my opinion, as early as season three, when it became far too bogged down in the stories of all of its side characters, but it is season seven that was absolutely batshit. In any case, I’m on season three now, so I greatly enjoyed the first two seasons, which I binged, and now I’m just skipping around to get to the good parts (like vampire Russell Edgington ripping out the spine of a newscaster on live television…fucking iconic). I’d forgotten how darkly comedic this show is; it’s just such a ride.

I also watched the first season and half of the second season of The Sinner, a crime drama series on Netflix, which…I guess I like well enough? I’m mainly watching it to get to the bottom of the mystery, but I’m not really attached to any characters. Plus, the main character, an older male detective, had this whole weird subplot with a dominatrix in the first season that was just so…utterly pointless? It’s definitely a good creepy show and it Goes There and it’s very disturbing and unsettling, but I wish the lead character was different.


Miscellaneous

I’ve watched no films this month and haven’t managed to catch up on any of the shows I wanted to catch up on. I feel like…there’s so much media I want to consume but I end up so overwhelmed by the sheer number of it all that in the end I consume very little. So many books, so many shows, so many anime, manga, graphic novels, documentaries, podcasts…so little time. Alas.

Speaking of media, I won the lottery to see Betrayal on Broadway, starring Charlie Cox and Tom Hiddleston! I was sitting in like the seventh row, super close, close enough to see faces, and I was delighted! It was a fantastic play with great performances from Cox and Hiddleston and a…strange performance from Zawe Ashton. In any case, there’s something especially thrilling about seeing a show off a lottery ticket, so I think I enjoyed it twice as much.

I also started writing a brand new story that was initially envisioned as a short story, but as it’s about 6K words and nowhere near close to being done, I guess I’m just gonna let it churn itself out. It’s historical fantasy, I guess, set in 1907. It’s about immortality and family and reincarnation. The narrative is interspersed with letters, which is something I’ve never done before, but it’s turning out to be quite fun. The whole thing is really fun, actually; it’s been a while since I completely let myself go while writing and just…gave in to tropes and melodrama for the hell of it. Of course that means the quality of the work is…dubious, but eh, who cares.

8 thoughts on “Wrap-Up: September 2019

  1. I feel the same way about including graphic novels, etc. but include them anyway. I even included a couple short stories in my August wrap-up because I had gotten them as standalone kindle downloads and they each had their own GR page! It felt quite sneaky, but got over it haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always feel like I’m cheating, but cheating what I don’t know, lmao! I would never include short stories unless they’re like…novelettes?? And even then I would hesitate. But I see people doing this all the time. I think I just need to stop focusing so much on that Goodreads number and think about it all as content instead.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what I’m trying to do! I can definitely get too obsessive over numbers, so I didn’t even give myself a real reading “goal” this year in the hopes that I can just enjoy reading without worrying about how much I’m doing.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I knew about the book beforehand, but I didn’t realize it was related to the series until I saw a friend reading it with its new title on Goodreads! I’m really looking forward to watching the series the minute I’m done.

      Like

  2. nice to see there’s somebody who feels similarly on gideon the ninth. i liked the premise a whole bunch, but the actual story itself it felt like such a slog. i’d be curious to hear what didn’t work for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s my major thoughts:

      The Good:

      → The ending kind of saves the day. It’s stellar and harrowing and ties everything together nicely (though even that is bogged down by clunky pacing, as it’s dragged down by an unnecessarily drawn out fight scene). It’s just. It’s clever. Everything fits together nicely. It’s very brutal and it’s intriguing and it’s unexpected and twisty. And it’s just plain cool.

      → The characters. There’s a huge cast of characters in this book, and yet every single one of them manages to be memorable. I had no trouble keeping track of them all because they were so distinct, which is an astonishing feat, to be honest! I also found myself growing attached to most of them. I loved Gideon’s irreverent inner monologue, and her interactions with Harrow, who is such a fascinating character in her own right (particularly the more you learn about her) just hit the spot!

      → The humor. This book doesn’t take itself seriously at all, obviously. The humor has probably been its major selling point; when people describe this book as weird, I think what they want to say is…it’s a little ridiculous, to be honest. It’s so odd, tonally; you’ve got necromancy and murder mystery couched in this book that not only doesn’t take itself seriously but doesn’t want the reader to take it seriously, and yet…it works? This book leans on a very particular absurdist, black comedy aesthetic but it just fits really, really well. I mean, it is indeed deeply weird to have characters in a fantasy/sci-fi setting speaking in modern slang, but it’s also deeply refreshing and makes everything so much more relatable.

      The Bad:

      → The pacing. The. Goddamn. Pacing. I struggled with this book so much because most of the time, I was bored out of my mind. I can’t tell you how many times I had to talk myself out of DNFing. There were random sections of the book that got interesting and absolutely flew by, and I would think, hey, finally, the story is picking up! But then it would just slow down again. The plot is bogged down by so many things that it simply does not need to be bogged down by; it could easily have been a hundred pages shorter and absolutely nothing would have been lost. The central mystery takes so damn long to get started, and then the characters just sort of…wander around and wait for things to happen.

      → This isn’t a Gothic novel, but it’s trying to be one. I’ve never actually read Gormenghast, but I’ve read of it, and I get the sense that this book – with its crumbling, Gothic palace – was supposed to be paying some kind of homage to Gormenghast and Gothic novels in general. But Gothic novels are also slow and meandering and dedicated more to The Aesthetic than to actually furthering the plot in a speedy manner. This book wanders and goes down strange routes and walks around in circles all in an effort to create a Gothic atmosphere that ultimately does not materialize.

      → The worldbuilding is practically nonexistent. I know there’s Nine Houses that serve the emperor and they have necromantic abilities, but that’s pretty much all I know. I have no sense of what sort of technological level these folks are operating at. I don’t know how these houses function. I don’t know who they’re fighting. I don’t know how they live or what they eat or wear or how they interact with each other or where they even live. This book is so insular, focusing simply on the murder mystery that emerges halfway through the book without bothering to provide any contextual details. Not only does this make things confusing, it means that events fail to resonate. I had absolutely zero sense of this society’s values, and so things that were meant to be hard-hitting were just…blah, because I had no idea what impact they were supposed to have.

      → The magic system is confusing as hell. I didn’t just need a glossary to follow this, I needed an introductory textbook and a few supplemental texts. Jargon is tossed left and right with little to no explanation, and eventually my eyes ended up glazing over it all because it made absolutely zero sense to me. And it’s a shame because I can tell it’s meant to be such a cool magic system! There’s necromantic specialties and theorems and there’s different kinds of energies and it’s so fascinating, especially as the stellar ending proves, but none of it ever really comes together because nothing is ever properly explained. And I know the author knows exactly how everything works, because of how complex it all is, but for some reason nothing is ever explained! If you’re that averse to info-dumping, then put in a glossary!

      → Speaking of worldbuilding and confusion, I don’t know if this was just me not reading properly, but there was something about the writing that had me struggling to picture the way things looked. Not with people, I actually think the descriptions of characters were spot on, but with literally anything else. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what this haunted Gothic palace looks like. Literally nothing. Everything felt hazy and abstract, which just added to my confusion and feeling of being utterly unmoored.

      Overall:

      I feel so…bereft. This could have been a magnificent book, but it was really just a messy disappointment. I get being so dedicated to the aesthetic that you kind of let everything else flounder by the wayside. But. You can’t be confusing and boring; that’s just a deeply unfortunate combo. In short: extremely cool ideas and fun aesthetic, terribly botched execution.

      Despite this, however, I am…so intrigued by the ending and the questions it brought up that I will almost definitely be picking up the sequel. But I also think that perhaps most of the issues I had here won’t follow to the second book. My confusion will be somewhat limited, because I’ll already have some understanding of the world, and because the plot (hopefully) won’t involve people wandering around an old house but seems to be hinting at war and political intrigue and even a bit of cosmic horror, there’s a good chance I won’t be bored. I’m just…too fascinated by the potential of this world to truly let go, which, in the end, is a testament to the author’s imagination.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with a lot of what you stated, although I LOVED that final fight scene. Felt like the prose equivalent to a boss battle from one of my all time fave video games. The whole thing was just so unabashedly ANIME! Just excessively bombastic in the best way possible. I adore stuff like that, even if it failed to win me over the book entirely.
    I must say though, I find it fascinating you had difficulty visualizing the setting because I basically had the opposite problem, in a manner of speaking. Like, specific scenes describing the setting felt… overwritten? IDK, I personally felt as though muir had this proclivity for describing the setting in exhaustive detail, making it difficult to grasp at times. After a time, I’d find my eyes began glazing over reading it. Maybe this was a cause for your confusion? Was for me in a sense. Hopefully this sounded somewhat coherent.

    The ending was so gloriously rad & rocked me in a way I wasn’t anticipating. I’m super curious to see where things go from here, although I don’t believe it’s enough to convince me to continue with the series. Which is an awful shame. This is the second book that failed to meet my expectations (the first being Black Leopard Red Wolf). Guess I Need to work on tempering my expectations when it comes to highly anticipated titles. The Gutter Prayer is the only thing that’s managed to utterly captivate me this year.

    Liked by 1 person

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