Monday, February 28, 2022

Short Stories I Read in January

It’s the twenty-eighth of February. So it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in January.

The Tinder Box by Kate Elliott (Tor.com, December 1, 2021)

One of my all-time favorite fantasy novels is Cold Magic. I read it some years ago, and it might be time for a reread. So, of course, I had to read The Tinder Box. Kate Elliott has a way with words, and that was abundantly clear with this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale. It adequately captured the substance of the story while also turning it on its head by reframing the narrative from the perspective of the witch instead of the soldier. What a way to start the year!

An Address to the Newest Disciples of the Lost Words by Vanessa Fogg (Lightspeed Magazine; Jan. 2022, Issue 140)

From Kate Elliott’s Tender Box, my next short fiction read was An Address to the Newest Disciples of the Lost Words by Vanessa Fogg. I adored this story. I appreciated the way Fogg put the titular “Lost Words” (and a play on language) to use in a story that was essentially a graduation speech. The narrator details the way the words shaped his course in life to others. Fogg’s lyrical prose detailed the wonder, ambition, joy, disappointment, and everything else in between. It was fantastic.

From around the web…



Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Washington Square by Henry James

Title: Washington Square 
Series: n/a
Author: Henry James
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Classic; Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: first published in 1880

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Back when New York was still young, so was heiress Catherine Sloper. A simple, plain girl, she grew up in opulence with a disappointed father and a fluttery aunt in a grand house on Washington Square. Enter Morris Townsend, a handsome charmer who assures Catherine he loves her for herself and not for her money. But Catherine’s revered father sees in Townsend what she cannot. Now, with her tearful aunt Penniman as his amusingly melodramatic ally, Townsend will present Catherine with the hardest choice of her young life.…

With a New Introduction and an Afterword by Michael Cunningham, Author of The Hours


A while ago, I watched a movie called the Heiress, and since then I was interested in the classic that the stage play (and eventually the film) were adapted from. Washington Square was like an exercise in bad decisions and willfully missed red flags, but it was a thoroughly engrossing character study set in a contemporary (for the time) setting.

With the varied motivations of the characters, the situation was headed in the direction of a tragically bitter end. Several factors compounded to ensure that end: from Mrs. Penniman’s ill-fated meddling and willingness to seek entertainment at her niece’s expense, to Catherine’s naivety (and later her love and devotion for Morris Townsend), and to Townsend’s obvious fortune hunting. There’s an irony to the story of how right Catharine Sloper’s father was. But even he wasn't a likable character. His methods were careless, and he was no more thoughtful toward Catherine than her aunt Mrs. Penniman. The two were terrible, but it was for different reasons.

The mechanics of how the story unfolded is one of the leading factors of what made Washington Square so good. It was a tale largely about greed, specifically for money, and the ultimate collateral damage that came from it. The ending was bitter—and no one was really that happy or anything—but it was a great story.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Music Monday (189): Aurora, David Morales, Ultra Naté, Lea-Lorian, Gerald Levert, Eddie Levert & Tony Terry

 Rules:

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I'm still listening to The Gods We Can Touch by Aurora. Another one of my favorite songs is Blood in the Wine.


Adri: I'm back with some house music. This time I'm sharing music by David Morales. I'm currently listening to Never Looking Back featuring Lea-Lorian, and I Can Dream featuring Ultra Naté.



Andrea: Hi all. I hope everyone is doing well. Whew! After listening to Adri's high energy selections, it's time to slow it down with a couple of songs from my playlist. I'm currently listening to Baby Hold On To Me by Gerald Levert featuring Eddie Levert and With You by Tony Terry.



Have an amazing week!


What are you listening to this week?

 


Friday, February 18, 2022

The Friday 56 (212) & Book Beginnings: Washington Square by Henry James

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE


Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.


Synopsis from Goodreads...
Back when New York was still young, so was heiress Catherine Sloper. A simple, plain girl, she grew up in opulence with a disappointed father and a fluttery aunt in a grand house on Washington Square. Enter Morris Townsend, a handsome charmer who assures Catherine he loves her for herself and not for her money. But Catherine’s revered father sees in Townsend what she cannot. Now, with her tearful aunt Penniman as his amusingly melodramatic ally, Townsend will present Catherine with the hardest choice of her young life.…

With a New Introduction and an Afterword by Michael Cunningham, Author of The Hours


Beginning: "During a portion of the first half of the present century, and more particularly during the latter part of it, there flourished and practiced in the city of New York a physician who enjoyed perhaps an exceptional share of consideration which, in the United States, has always been bestowed upon distinguished members of the medical profession."

56: "It will probably seem to the reader, however, that the doctor's vigilance was by no means excessive, and that these two young people had an open field."


Comments: I read Washington Square by Henry James. I enjoyed this one. Note: It wasn't until I was picking the quotes that I realized how long the first sentence of chapter one actually was. What are you reading this week?


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Daughters of Chivalry: The Forgotten Children of Edward I by Kelcey Wilson-Lee

Title: Daughters of Chivalry, The Forgotten Children of Edward I
Series: n/a
Author: Kelcey Wilson-Lee
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; History
Publisher/Publication Date: Picador; March 21, 2019

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Virginal, chaste, humble, patiently waiting for rescue by brave knights and handsome princes: this idealised - and largely mythical - notion of the medieval noblewoman still lingers. Yet the reality was very different, as Kelcey Wilson-Lee shows in this vibrant account of the five daughters of the great English king, Edward I. The lives of these sisters - Eleanora, Joanna, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth - ran the full gamut of experiences open to royal women in the Middle Ages. Living as they did in a courtly culture founded on romantic longing and brilliant pageantry, they knew that a princess was to be chaste yet a mother to many children, preferably sons, meek yet able to influence a recalcitrant husband or even command a host of men-at-arms

I started 2022 with some historical nonfiction. Kelcey Wilson-Lee’s Daughters of Chivalry: The Forgotten Children of Edward I.

One of the early lines from the introduction says: “Is she acquiescent, a person whom the most important things happen to or for, rather than an actor in her own right?” This book went to great length to show the layers of the lives of Edward I’s five daughters.

Wilson-Lee built a strong and concise narrative—based on surviving records and few instances of speculation—that followed them from early childhood to adulthood and their eventual marriages. It deftly explained the expectations (and limitations) for women at the time, while also setting the ultimate subjects of the book apart, by the privileges (education, fine foods, and good clothing) afforded to them; as well as the power and influence they were able to wield in their respective positons.

I liked how Wilson-Lee touched on the tricky subject of arranged marriages. The book covered the ways they were used to solidify Edward I’s influence, by forging those all-important alliances and connections. But, there was also a focus on what each princess stood to gain from the unions, such as expansive estates that were, in some instances, held jointly with their spouses.

The reign and eventual death of their father and the crowning of their brother, served as examples of time at the height of their influence, as well as further tumultuous periods (beyond war related conflicts) that came with the shift from “daughters of the king” to being “sisters of the king”.

All-in-all, Daughters of Chivalry was excellent.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Music Monday (188): Aurora

 Rules:

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: One of my most anticipated albums of the year was Aurora's The Gods We Can Touch. I already had a post dedicated it. So, my pick this week is Exhale Inhale. I love this song.



What are you listening to this week?


Friday, February 11, 2022

The Friday 56 (211) & Book Beginnings: Daughters of Chivalry by Kelcey Wilson-Lee

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE


Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.


Synopsis from Goodreads...
Virginal, chaste, humble, patiently waiting for rescue by brave knights and handsome princes: this idealised - and largely mythical - notion of the medieval noblewoman still lingers. Yet the reality was very different, as Kelcey Wilson-Lee shows in this vibrant account of the five daughters of the great English king, Edward I. The lives of these sisters - Eleanora, Joanna, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth - ran the full gamut of experiences open to royal women in the Middle Ages. Living as they did in a courtly culture founded on romantic longing and brilliant pageantry, they knew that a princess was to be chaste yet a mother to many children, preferably sons, meek yet able to influence a recalcitrant husband or even command a host of men-at-arms

Beginning: "Close your eyes and think of a medieval princess. Do you see a woman clothed in vibrant silks and rich velvets, her head, hands, and waist girdled with gleaming gold and sparkling gemstones?"

56: "Now under royal patronage, the next century saw significant expansion in the wealth and size of the priory." 


Comments: My first read of 2022 was Daughters of Chivalry by Kelcey Wilson-Lee. It's a nonfiction book I've been meaning to get to, and it was just as good as I thought it would be. It's all about the daughters of Edward I. 

What are you reading this week? Or what was the first book you read in 2022?

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

I Listened to The Gods We Can Touch by Aurora


A lot of good music came out in January of this year. First with FKA Twigs’s mixtape, Caprisongs, and now with Aurora’s album: The Gods We Can Touch. 

With Aurora, I already guessed that the album would be thematic, and I was right. The six singles—Cure For Me, Giving In To The Love, Exist for Love, Heathens, A Dangerous Thing, and Everything Matters featuring Pomme—offered a taste of the tone of the album, and the title paints a pretty clear picture of what to expect.

The Gods We Can Touch was emotional and topical, but ultimately it was lighter and different than some of Aurora’s previous music. It felt a lot more experimental and upbeat, bringing in notes of electro-pop without losing the ethereal/dreamy nature adjacent quality that I liked about Aurora’s backlist tracks. Some of my favorites from this particular album include: Cure For Me, Blood Like Wine, Exhale Inhale, and A Dangerous Thing.

In some ways, it reminded me of Halsey’s 2021 album: If I can’t Have Love, I Want Power. They both have historical and mythology references, but the albums go about the presentation of themes in a way unique to the respective artist.

So, The Gods We Can Touch was one of my most anticipated albums of 2022. My expectations were sky high, considering how good the singles preceding its release were. Overall, this was a great album, and I’m looking forward to Aurora’s next project.


Monday, February 7, 2022

Music Monday (187): FKA Twigs, Sevendust, & Deniece Williams

Rules:

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I'm currently listening to FKA Twigs's new mixtape, Caprisongs. I talked about it in a separate post at the end of last week, and I wanted to mention one of my favorite songs for Music Monday. I really love the mixtape, and one of the memorable tracks is Honda featuring Pa Salieu.


Adri: This week I'm listening to Dirty by Sevendust.


Andrea: Hi all! I'm listening to Let's Hear It For The Boy by Deniece Williams. Have an amazing week!



What are you listening to this week?



Friday, February 4, 2022

I Listened to Caprisongs by FKA Twigs


While I started my blogging year with historical nonfiction, on the music side, the first thing I listened to was Caprisongs, FKA Twigs’s mixtape released on January 14th. 

Mixtapes can be hit or miss for me; after all it’s a place where experimentation with style and genre can (and often does) occur. So when they’re good they’re good. Some of my favorites have been Magdalena Bay’s Mini Mix vol. 1 & vol. 2, as well as Angel Haze’s Reservation. And Caprisongs falls right in with some of the best I’ve listened to.

When FKA Twigs releases something new, I know I’m in for a good time. With features including Pa Salieu and The Weeknd (among a handful of others), Caprisongs delivered everything I was looking for. Proceeded by two singles—Tears In The Club featuring The Weeknd and Jealousy featuring Rema—FKA Twigs’s genre-bending style and distinct vocals were front and center.

I listened to Caprisongs in one sitting, and I enjoyed every minute of it. From the splashy intro (Ride The Dragon), to the features (Honda, Tears In The Club, Papi Bones, Which Way, etc.), and to its excellent conclusion (Thank You Song). This is a mixtape I’ll be listening to again.


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