I’ve been reading a lot lately – between my trip back to the east coast with lots of travel time and still struggling a bit with my joint issues (although I FINALLY got in to see a doctor this week after 5 months of symptoms, have a diagnosis – yet another autoimmune issue so fun times there – and a treatment plan that hopefully will get my stiffness and swelling under control over the next year!) – reading has been a good choice when I haven’t felt like doing much else.
Because I’ve got a lot to talk about, I’ll keep the reviews pretty short and sweet. So far this month, I’ve finished:
- Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages by Dan Jones. A long and very dense but ultimately readable book spanning several centuries from Roman times through the 16th century. Jones is able to pull together a lot of information into an entertaining read and where he really shines are the chapters dedicated to a single person (usually male because that’s unfortunately who source history tends to document) that illustrate broader topics he’s presenting like the rise of Islam, the wool trade, architecture, the Silk Road, military events and the church throughout both eastern and western Europe. Due to its length, I wouldn’t call this a light read but I found tackling a topical chapter a couple of times a week very do-able. I appreciated Jones’s approachable style and humor throughout.
- Mr. Hammond and the Poetic Apprencie by Mellany Ambrose. You can flip back a few posts to read a more extensive review on this recent historical fiction release about the poet, John Keats.
- The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu. Another book in the Shadowhunter world, focusing on Magnus and Alec, who are off on another adventure to track down a mythical book that has all sorts of information about controlling demons. A fun escapist read and while I’m enjoying this break-out series with these two characters, since it allows us to learn more about them, this one (as second books in a series often do) fell a little bit flat for me compared to The Red Scrolls of Magic, which was book 1. Book 3 is slated to be out later this year, so we’ll see how that one goes.
- Children of Ash and Elm by Neil Price. An extensive history about the Vikings. Lots of great information in this one, based on the archeologic record, with new sites and artifacts being found and cataloged yearly. I loved all of the social history information, particularly the chapter that examined dress, spinning and weaving and personal decoration (tattoos, teeth filing). It was actually a great companion book to Powers and Thrones since much of the same time period was covered in both of these nonfiction books. I greatly enjoyed this one!
- Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys by Candace Savage. I absolutely adore corvids – smart, engaging, sociable birds – and I’ve read some other nonfiction books about them, so grabbed this in an ebook sale. Eh. It is extremely lightweight with a couple of paragraphs of anecdotal info on various bird behaviors. I didn’t learn anything new and was left wanting more info on the studies the author did mention. Maybe a good starting book if you know nothing about crows or ravens, or a good middle school intro book but not my cup of tea.
- The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. Recommended by a friend to help me check off a prompt in one of the reading challenges I’m doing this year, this one is not my usual genre but I loved the mix of sweet and spicy in this slow-burn adult contemporary romance. Great character development and humor. This one surprised me by how much I enjoyed it and would be a great summer read.
Currently, I’ve got two books on the go:
- On the Nature of Magic by Marian Womack. This is another ARC, set to publish at the end of the month. It’s billed as a Gothic historical fiction and it’s set in the early 20th century surrounding a mystery with clues about spiritualism, the growth of the moving pictures, and shady characters in and around Paris. More to come on this one with a full review once I’m finished.
- The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel by Jeanne Mackin. I’m listening to this one on audiobook and am LOVING it. Set in Paris just before WWII, the author is doing a fantastic job bringing these two fashion and style icons to life in vibrant, brilliant detail. Years ago, I worked in the clothing and textile department of a small museum who had originals from both these designers in their collection, so it’s fun to read about their other collections and the fierce rivalry between these two strong women.
Are you reading anything noteworthy right now?
2 thoughts on “What I’m Reading – May 17, 2023”
You find the most interesting non-fiction books! I’ve added Children of Ash and Elm to my TBR; it sounds fascinating. I don’t think I’ll get to it for a little while (other stuff will take up too much time for a month or two) but I’m really curious about it.
I did enjoy it quite a bit. It theoretically was in a group of books I pulled about the Arctic, but while it had very little on THAT particular topic, it did have a lot of very interesting info on the Viking culture. I didn’t realize the Byzantium palace guards were an elite military Viking group (although that makes sense) and lots of info about mini ice age climate change that drastically influenced population growth and movement. I also really appreciated a sound theory about the Viking raids that are fairly well known – like Lindisfarne – and why they occurred (and didn’t occur in a vaccuum.)