Diana and Matthew are back to the future. Haha I couldn’t help myself. I’m excited to have them reunited with the rest of the gang but devastated that one of them is already gone. How dare Deborah Harkness drop the news like that so casually. *tears*
I’ve debated over and over with myself whether or not I wanted to participate in this year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’ve made a goal every year since 2011 and have reached it every year. (I made an adjustment to my goal midway last year because things only just barely made it) Last year was my lowest book count in ten years and even though I’m back to work and such doing more commuting to work where I do most of my reading, I’m only going in to work 3 or 4 days a week. The other days I’m working from home. Also it maybe a new year but the troubles of 2020 didn’t just go away when the calendar changed and the events of the world can be make things hard to concentrate. (See Re: yesterday) So do I make a reading goal this year or not? On one hand, it’s good to have a goal and to have something to work towards but it also can add extra stress that we all don’t need. I only read 20 books last year which is good considering last year but I also can’t help but think that is some kind of a failure when I usually read twice as many. In 2012, I read 90 books! Over the last couple of years, I’ve scaled back my goals. Allowing myself more time to really read them but also have a life. I do feel like it has given me a little more of a life balance. I could go a couple of days without reading and not freak out that I was now 2 books behind in my goal. So what should I do this year? I think it would be understandable to just take the year off. It’s not like you get a prize for making your goal. It is after all supposed to be fun and if it just adding stress then it’s not worth it right. I’m going to read anyways, so why do I need to set a certain number of books I have to read? However it is an easy way to keep track of what I’m reading and what I’ve read. I use my challenge when I do my year end lists to remind myself what books I really loved and were a disappointed. In the end I decided to set my goal at 20 like last year. I think this is fair. If I can somehow manage 20 last year I should be able to do this year right? If I don’t make it I don’t make it.
What about you? Are you making any reading goals or participating in any challenges this year? I want to hear what your reading plans are.
Back to Diana and Matthew. I’m already 100 pages in and well Matthew is a mess.
I believe I bought Dividing Eden because it was on sale and I had read other books by the author and thought why not? I finally got around to reading it thanks to USPS delivery The Tower of Nero to the apartment building across the street. (Yeah, tenant association email chain for the assist) I’m glad that I got around to it because it was a fun read. The premise is that Eden was at war with a neighboring kingdom, the previous royal family still had influence in the kingdom and the power of the wind that kept the power going to the kingdom and the threat to the terrors of the night at bay was failing. Twins, Carys and Andreus were not expected to ascend to the throne thanks to having an older brother but when he and their father, the king die they must compete against each other for the crown. Once inseparable, their loyalty gets out to the test when power is on the line. At least for one. Carys never really wanted to be in power but she is clever. You see, when she and her brother were born the seer made a prediction that one of them is cursed and would be the downfall of the Kingdom. It was assumed that the cursed one was Andreus because he was born sickly. Carys has always stepped in to protect him. When he has one of his episodes, she’ll do something to draw attention away from him so no one will be the wiser. It was her role and she thought it would always be. That was until Andreus met the new Seer, Imogen and his brother was dead and he could be king and out of everyone’s shadow. But who was behind the deaths of their brother and father? Wasn’t the Neighboring Kingdom? The ousted royals? The members of the council? Carys does what she always done and goes out of her way to help and protect her brother. Andreus betrays her the moment he sees he could have everything he ever wanted and a pretty girl. Typical boy believes a woman he wants to sleep with over his sister who has done nothing but protect him his whole life. The end of the first book, we get the resolution of who wins the crown but who is behind it all not so much. It’s much more complicated then that because there a lot of things at play here. All pretty well set up too. I was able to guess some of who was behind but one subplot I didn’t really see coming. All in all it was a good two books. If you are looking for a quick fantasy read with lots of subplots and palace intrigue, this is for you.
I know that I’m super behind in my reviews. I’ll try to get them all written before the end of the year. On to this one. The Tower of Nero was a satisfying ending to the series and really to whole Olympian Saga. Pretty much every character got some closure with one notable exception but we will get to that. Apollo the former God, turned human because of the events of Heroes of Olympus but also because he was on the only one who could save the world this time. Apollo had grown so much over the series. He wasn’t just turned human but became human. As a God with immortality and unlimited abilities he often didn’t think about how his actions affected others because there would always be more for him. More people to worship him. During his journey he had to come to terms with all the destruction he caused and the hurt he inflicted and it was painful but doing so he grew up. He understood that everything has consequences and that you can’t just walk away or send a demi-god to do your work for you. Meg also grew up. She was finally strong enough to stand up to her father and abuser but also have the strength to help her siblings begin their healing as well. It was truly a powerful moment when she finally stands up to him and help her family. The one character from the original series that is still working through his grief is Nico. I have a feeling we are being set up for another series following his journey as he grapples with years of grief and depression that he is only know coming to terms with. Poor kid. He was born in Mussolini’s Italy, frozen in time in a weird Vegas time warp. Lost his sister. Was forced out of the closet but a cruel Cupid and now loss of another friend. A lot of has happened to this kid. Anyways, Great series. Great ending. I will miss these characters but at least they are all in a safe place. Rick Riordan has said that he is going to take a break for a while and he deserves one. He’s been releasing about two books a year for over a decade. Whatever he does now I’m sure it will be great. In the meantime, he’s imprint is still publishing great stories. Percy Jackson is getting his own Disney+ series and the Kane Chronicles are being made into a movie for Netflix. I think his fans will be well served in the coming years even if a new book from him isn’t on the horizon.
The final book in the Ember in the Ashes series I’m interested to see how this one ends
I’ll get around to writing some reviews soon but in the meantime I’ve been reading the sequel to Dividing Eden.
I finished A Discovery of Witches on Halloween. I enjoyed it but share some of the same concerns as Kate. In fact my feelings about the book are similar to hers that I don’t feel like I need to right up my own review. I do look forward to reading the other books in the trilogy and watching the show. Now I’ve moved on to these other books. Dividing Eden I had bought long time ago and finally decided to give it a go. So far so good. The Tower of Nero is the conclusion on Rick Riordan’s expansive Heroes of Olympus Saga and I’m interested on how he wraps up over a decades worth of story for Percy, Annabeth, Piper, Apollo, Hazel and more.
I write this knowing that I will not able to truly express how I feel about this novel. It is equal parts breathtaking, heartbreaking and infuriating. I was drawn to this book by the title. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that Kate and I have an interest in Korea and I was born in 1982. You add the feminist storyline and it had me. Kim Jiyoung quit her job that she liked to be a full time mother and wife. She starts speaking in other women’s voices which not surprisingly concerned her husband so he enlist the help of a male therapist to treat her. The novel plays out out a narrative her life as she explains it to her therapist during their sessions. Through this we see the hardships she endures throughout her life and everything that has led her to today. Like so many women of our generation, Jiyoung was encouraged to follow her dreams and pursue a career that she wanted but also expected to give it all up once marriage and children come into the picture. As the novel progresses and she gets older I could see of how the toll of constantly being undervalued, dismissed and harassed by a misogynistic society has taken on her. There are the all too familiar stories of having expectations of taking care of ones family over yourself. The expectation that her brother should get cherished because he will be the one to bring the family honor and not the sisters. The expectations that women have to do just deal with being harassed and belittled at the work place. That she will always come in second to the wants and needs to the men in her life. Every woman knows how this all feels. Growing up in the US during a time of mostly prosperity, there were things about her childhood I could not identify with but what I could was being told that the boy teasing you/bulling you means that they secretly like you. The assumption that the boys are just smarter and some how more mature and more immature then you too. I remember a specific incident in college getting a grade two points below my fellow male student even though it was a group project and we both did equal amount of the work. At least twice I was passed over for promotions in favor of a less experience male coworker. As a single woman living in New York City. I am constantly aware of my surroundings and cautious of what I say and do when I’m around men. On the occasion I went out with friends, we always make sure to text each other when we get home to check in that we all got home safely. It’s exhausting to be a woman. Admittingly, Kim Jiyoung had it harder then I did. I do admit that I have a certain amount of privilege that has allowed me to live an easier life than most. I have had some sense that Korea is a very patriarchal society based on the amount of Kdramas and Kpop I’ve consumed but how it’s illustrated here makes it feel so oppressive. It seems to be getting better but you can’t change thousands of years of thinking and traditions overnight. Jiyoung is constantly trying to find the balance of sticking up for herself but also not rocking the boat. She sees that what she is being told and taught is unfair but doesn’t what to to say or do about it. When she does stand up for herself it is often her that gets in trouble and not the man in question. Again all too familiar. It really is a wonder that after a lifetime of this abuse and oppression that all women don’t just snap. The sense of dread I began to feel as the narrative came closer and closer to her getting married was just heavy. I wished I could tell her no. Don’t do it. Don’t quit your job. Insist more that your husband give up more of his time once the baby is born. At the end we get to read the therapist diagnosis and like so many good intention men he gets so close to getting to the truth and understanding what she is really going through but in the end fails to comprehend. Mostly because it would mean he would have to start to actually see women as something other then just their wives, mothers, daughters and human beings and to do that he would have to make them people, equal and that is just too hard for too many men. So nothing changes and we all suffer for it.
Our good friend, Fiona has been asking us to join her in a read-along of A Discovery of Witches for a while now and well she finally got us. Kate has already started listening to the audiobook and I started it today. We’re a little behind but we like challenges. As for me, I need a little bit of a fantasy after the all too real Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 so I can’t wait to get started.
For those curious about the read-along. Here’s a link from last year’s challenge on Deborah Harkness Facebook page.