Good morning/evening/whatever time you may be reading this. I hope you have had a marvelous day, but if not, take heart. You aren’t alone. I just spilled coffee all over myself on my way into work from a supposedly sealed travel mug.
Despite that, I’m moving forward into a good day.
Last night I filled up one of my note card bookmarks, so I figured now was a good time for a wrap up, but I’ll first explain my use of note cards as bookmarks.
The idea came to me in college, and I started decorating the blank side of note cards (which were in abundance in my dorm room) and writing the titles of the books I read with it on the lined side. With previous cards that I’ve filled up, I’ve gone through them and reminisced on the books as a whole. Was it a good set? What kind of books was I reading?
The design on this notecard is one of my favorites. There’s something almost wavelike about the lines I have made, and I love the combination of light blue and black.
The first book I read to completion with this was Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa, the sequel to Shadow of the Fox. Shadow of the Fox is one of my top three novels of this year, as I read it in the first quarter of 2019. I believe it to be the perfect adventure novel, so Soul of the Sword was not just eagerly anticipated; I expected much of it. While Shadow of the Fox is the stronger of the two novels, Soul of the Sword was far from disappointing and was quite delightful. It was so wonderful, and it makes me even more hopeful for Night of the Dragon (forthcoming April 2020). I loved the development of the angsty romance between Yumeko and Tatsumi, especially as Tatsumi has been possessed by the soul of the demon Hakaimono. Besides, I love the way Yumeko uses her kitsune powers (I will always cheer for a trickster). The fictional Iwagoto was brought to even more vibrant life, deepening the lore. More adventure, higher stakes, more devastation. I loved it.
Right after that, I read Julie C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, another East Asian fantasy, although this was inspired by Chinese, rather than Japanese, folklore and culture. While Soul of the Sword was an adventure novel, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was a political intrigue mixed with magic and romance. It’s a retelling of the rise of the Evil Queen (of Snow White fame) as a poor girl named Xifeng leaves her controlling aunt for life at the Imperial Palace with the goal of replacing the Empress (no matter the cost). It was an amazing read, and such a heartbreaker, watching Xifeng choose power over love, seeing her use her magic to hurt not only those who wronged her, but the innocent as well. It was so beautifully written, and while magical, it never felt like a fairy tale. I need to find the sequel.
I began my reread of the Shadowhunters series. I’ve been collecting them all in hard cover, replacing some of my paperbacks and collecting the ones my collection was missing altogether. I started at the beginning (unless you count The Bane Chronicles) with Clockwork Angel in The Infernal Devices trilogy. What can I say that I haven’t said before? I adore the characters and the London presented in these books. As far as protagonists go, I think The Infernal Devices has better characters than The Mortal Instruments (but I prefer the villains of The Mortal Instruments, I’m afraid). It’s a solid start to one of my favorite trilogies. Light on the action, and heavy on the drama.
I was halfway through reading The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi when my mood changed, and I wanted to read a Jane Austen right then and there. Sense and Sensibility has been on my shelf for years, but I always said, “eh, I’ll read it someday.” That someday finally came, and I threw myself into it. I really connected with Elinor when it came to her hiding of negative emotions, of her reluctance to make herself vulnerable to Edward (despite believing her feelings to be reciprocated), but I adored Marianne’s liveliness and related to her as well. I don’t think Sense and Sensibility was quite as entertaining as Pride and Prejudice, but I did enjoy it (and a great deal more than Persuasion).
I bought Cards on the Table (an Hercule Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie) because of its intriguing premise: one man invites four detective types to a card party along with four people he believes got away with murder, but ends up dead himself. Which of them killed him, and was he right? Were they all really murderers? This was twisty right up until the end. It’s a quick and clever read, everything I’ve come to expect from Christie.
I was still in the mood for Christie, so I switched over to a Miss Marple mystery, A Murder is Announced. Neighbors gather at Letitia Blacklock’s home after a mysterious ad in the gazette announces there will be a murder there at 6:30pm that day. At 6:30, the lights go out, an intruder enters, and a shot goes off. Miss Marple, using her knowledge of human nature (which she has acquired through her long life observing village folk, all people being basically the same wherever you are), solves the mystery. While enjoyable, I think I prefer Poirot mysteries. Yes, he does a lot of guesswork, but his guesses seem more reasonable than Miss Marple’s, her conclusions come of nowhere. Regardless, I was entertained the whole way.
I picked up Clockwork Prince (the second in the Infernal Devices trilogy) quickly after rereading the first, so that everything would be fresh in my mind (never mind that I have reread the first two in the series three or four times each). The second installment has long been my favorite of the trilogy, the one with the most angst, making me fall in love with Jem again (though I’m a Will stan through and through). I experienced the heartbreak of Will’s proposal and Tessa’s rejection all over again. I have lost all ability to be objective about this book. I don’t know if it’s good, I just know that it makes me feel things.
I took a turn back to mystery/thrillers with The Death of Mrs. Westaway, my first in a while that wasn’t an Agatha Christie. I own several of Ruth Ware’s books, but this was the first I’d read. The story is about a tarot card reader who receives a letter saying she will inherit from her dead grandmother (which would really help her out with the loan sharks that have gotten on her case). The problem is that she’s certain there’s been a mistake: her grandmother’s name was Marion, not Hester Westaway. Even though I don’t believe in tarot (and neither does the protagonist, Hal), I find it fascinating to read about. This was a gothic thriller to be sure, and its spooky atmosphere drew me in. For one thing, it was nice to read an adult novel from the perspective of someone around my own age. I guessed some of the twists but not all of them, and the few weeks in the interim have sold me on the ending. It was indeed a fitting ending, as well as an exciting one.
The final read on this card was one I finished last night. The first in the series that formed the basis of the television show True Blood, Dead Until Dark is the story of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse, who can hear everyone’s thoughts, except for Bill’s. Why? Because Bill is a vampire, I suppose. I read this because of my love for the first season of True Blood (I can’t seem to get into season 2, but I’ve watched season 1 three or four times). I do like vampires and the paranormal, but I was drawn in by the promise of a murder mystery. Suspicion falls on Sookie’s brother when several vampire-loving women have been found strangled to death. Sookie tries to use her gifts to prove that he is innocent. As far as execution, I think True Blood did a far better job in storytelling. The writing was passable but not great, the book was cheesy, and the mystery elements were also lackluster. As with the tv show but for different reasons, I likely won’t continue.
So, was this a good set? For the most park, absolutely. I enjoyed myself immensely, and would recommend most of these books to my friends. I think the new reads that will stay with me longest (emotionally) are Forest of a Thousand Lanerns and The Death of Mrs. Westaway.
So, what do you think of my manner of tracking my reading? What methods do you employ? If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to chat about them with you in the comments below, or, tell me what you’re reading now!
Hope you have a wonderful day, and thank you for reading.