Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Club and Getting Lost and Good Movie

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Three book clubs this week, so that was great. My club that reads controversial books met and was still polite (the book was by some guys from the Ayn Rand institute), so we agreed to keep going. Next month we'll talk about Scientology. My Tuesday group watched a movie about a Pirana-person. And the Friday group of friends met on Saturday and enjoyed a delicious lunch, a fun paranormal book, and a pile of picture books.

I also had the fun of getting lost on the way to a meeting, where my phone confidentially led me to the completely wrong place. "You have arrived!" it chirped cheerfully when I clearly wasn't within blocks of the right place. Then I demonstrated why I use my phone's navigation by messing up the directions I called my brother for, and finally stumbled into the right place using my sister-in-law's location based directions, which rely on things like "you will see a UPS store" instead of arcane details like "south."

I saw Dunkirk twice, once with my kids. They revealed themselves to be heartless monsters by not caring about any of the soldiers because nobody had names. Apparently they didn't even recognize the guy who plays Jarvis. They did like the food since we were at a theater that plies you with tasty treats throughout the show. Want to know how nerdy we are? None of us could recognize Harry Stiles. I don't think the boys had ever heard of him.

I'm still doing my summer reading thing of starting a book every day, which will probably mean ending up with a few dozen bookmarks by the end of August, but that's how I like to roll in the breaks between routine. Currently Reading is about 28 books right now.

The Book Date does a weekly roundup of what people are reading, want to read, or have read each week called It's Monday! What Are You Reading and I'm going to sign up. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed, and as I started a kidlit book, I'll check in with either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers for their version.

This week I started:

Angle of Truth (Sky Full of Stars, #2)Penric's Fox (Penric and Desdemona, #3)Penric's Demon (Penric and Desdemona, #1)Merely a MarriagePenric and the Shaman (Penric and Desdemona, #2)Penric’s Mission (Penric and Desdemona, #4)Stolen Legacy (Sky Full of Stars, #3)Valor's Choice (Confederation #1)

Angle of Truth, Lindsay Buroker. Since I only have access to Kindle Unlimited for a month, I'm making hay while the sun shines. Book 2 of the series!

Penric's Fox, Lois McMaster Bujold. One of my favorite authors just wrote a new story in her Five Gods world! I bought it immediately.

Penric's Demon, Lois McMaster Bujold. It turns out that the new story is set before the last two stories in the Penric sequence, so clearly I needed a refresher. Time to reread EVERYTHING.

Merely a Marriage, Jo Beverley. I was saddened to learn that this author passed away, so I grabbed her last book when I saw it. Then I saw this one, which is more likely to be her actual last book, but then again publishing schedules are weird so for all I know there are more.

Penric and the Shaman, Lois McMaster Bujold. At this point I realized that if I was going to spend my time rereading these, I should count them as the book I start each day. If I had done that earlier, I would have caught up a little.

Penric's Mission, Lois McMaster Bujold. This one is a favorite, so I'm going to reread it more slowly.

Stolen Legacy, Lindsay Buroker. More fun in space! I should check exactly when the Unlimited runs out. Oh well, worst case I buy the last one.

Valor's Choice, Tanya Huff. My library has this thing where you answer some questions about what you like and they send you recommendations. My recommendation list had 4 books that I loved and this one by an author whose other stuff I've enjoyed. So I put it on hold and finally got it!

Eight books -- well, it could have been worse.


I finished:

Equal is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income InequalityPenric's Fox (Penric and Desdemona, #3)Penric's Demon (Penric and Desdemona, #1)Penric and the Shaman (Penric and Desdemona, #2)The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)Angle of Truth (Sky Full of Stars, #2)

Equal Is Unfair, Don Watkins and Yaron Brooks. Very disappointing. The authors are either very foolish or doubt their own arguments, because they refuse to engage with any difficult examples of their ideologies. The Reading Across the Aisles group was content to throw out the authors but talk about the issues of government overreach, fairness and taxation, and the role of society. We did not become Objectivists, although the term Cambodian gulag was used a few times.

Penric's Fox, Lois McMaster Bujold. I started out very confused -- what happened? How'd he get back here? Then I enjoyed the mystery and the philosophy, and finally I figured out that it is set in the middle of the series. Clearly I must reread everything to get the sequence straight.

Penric's Demon, Lois McMaster Bujold. I had forgotten that the thing with the kidnapping was part of the first story about Penric and Desdemonia, but I enjoyed seeing the start of their relationship knowing how it would progress. I like characters that are fundamentally decent, as are most of the people I hang out with.

Penric and the Shaman, Lois McMaster Bujold. This one make me want to reread The Hallowed Hunt, which I'll do after I catch up with the Penrics. I liked the mess the young shaman has made of his life, through mostly well intentioned attempts to be great. Miles Vorkosigan would understand.

The Gunslinger, Stephen King. This didn't really hang that well together for me. I get that it's setting up a lot of stuff, but as a standalone it felt rather thin. And somehow very male? It seemed that men were defined as characters and women as relations to those characters, which annoyed me, but I'm not sure how much was in the text and how much was just me being cranky.

Angle of Truth, Lindsay Buroker. I enjoyed this one even more, as I trusted the characters to do their thing, and the author trusted the reader to accept them. The dolphins were fun, the bad guys were varied and fought amongst themselves, and almost everything came out well for our heroes, especially the lemonade stand. Pure fun.

Hmm, I started 8 and finished 6. My summer currently-reading pile continues to grow.

Picture books:

Much fun was had -- I brought all the Cybils Picture Book Finalists to my main book club and we read them all and judged them, after a kind spouse grilled us delicious gourmet pizzas so that we were all in a good mood. We think we will make this an annual tradition.

I'm hoping I preserved the links from the Cybils page, so that clicking on them takes you to Amazon and if you buy the book, benefits them.



A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins. I adored this. It had everything -- it broke the fourth wall, it tricked the reader, it was a bit gruesome, and it had a turtle.
Ida, Always by Caron Levis. Lovely narration about grief and life. It never felt didactic or lecturing, and it would be a good book for people to read before dealing with loss. The balance between fantasy and realism was superb, and the note and the end showing it was based on a true story made me like it even more.
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom. This was a fun book that looks like it would be even better as a read-aloud. But it was also predictable -- I knew the ending by the third page.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev. I should have liked this book more than I did, and most of my friends approved it. But for some reason, I kept being appalled that these children were keeping the wild creatures in captivity, which is a realistic concern that had nothing to do with the kind fantasy the book was creating. I have no explanation for why I kept falling out of the book's world -- this is all on me.
The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan. This was lovely and detailed and rewarding, and many children would be enthralled. It felt a little bit too pushy though.
There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins. This is the kind of book that makes you look around for a child to read it with, and that I would have enjoyed reading every night for a week. The mouse is appropriately overwrought, and the illustrations give some sly nods to the adult reading the book, and the final twist is pitch perfect.


They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. Very clever idea and presented very well, but the illustrations repelled me. I can see kids loving it, though.


Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Desperate HeartsWhen the Sea Turned to SilverThe Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the AmazonWhat If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical QuestionsThe Valiant (The Valiant, #1)

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Part 11. So far I am less interested in the troubles Shan's daughter gets herself into while her obvious trauma is ignored by the super talented telepathic mind healers all around her, but I do want to know what will happen to the also traumatized super soldier on the ship with the AI and the AI-trainer. The pace seems slow although that might be the narration. Also, some stuff seems duplicated and I'm not sure if I messed up or the audio did.

Desperate Hearts, Rosanne Bittner. Ok, maybe it's not that unusual for women to finally manage to talk about a rape and then immediately have sex (this is not the first romance book I've seen this in), but my problem with it is that the sex doesn't seem hot -- I'm still dealing with the rape parts. Seems like a waste. Oh well, then there was marriage and other stuff.

When the Sea Turned to Silver, 
Grace Lin. The next audio book for the 2016 Cybils finalists. Pin Mei (I have no idea how to spell anyone's names) tells a good story -- my kids are liking this even though they are only in the car for about half of it.

The Lost City of Z, David Grann.  Now that we've met the author, and I'm fairly sure he won't die horribly in the next few pages, I'm looking forward to this.

What If?, Randall Munroe. This is highly enjoyable.

The Valiant, Lesley Livingston. The main character has finished messing up her life, so now I hope to get into the part where she builds something.

These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.

The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenKenilworthSammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen (Sammy Keyes, #9)The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)Reading and Learning to Read

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen.

The Emerald Atlas, John Stephens.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George. I dislike the pastiche of writing to the psychologist -- I don't buy it. This is not my favorite George book.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016! 15 / a lot. Aha! Read the picture books. Thought I started something but it turns out it wasn't a Cybils. Oops.
  2. Reading My Library:  My definition of hurry up and finish apparently does not involve hurrying. OK, I'm making progress on Desperate Hearts.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 26/51. No luck. I read nothing set on Earth this week.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ren Fair! College Stuff! Wild Socializing!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?Social party for oldest son's college, social party for Foolscap, and the Renaissance Faire! I threw an ax, shot my arrows, released the trebuchet and spent some money. Good times had by all. I also saw Valerian and it was very pretty.

I'm still doing my summer reading thing of starting a book every day, which will probably mean ending up with a few dozen bookmarks by the end of August, but that's how I like to roll in the breaks between routine. Currently Reading is about 26 books right now.

The Book Date does a weekly roundup of what people are reading, want to read, or have read each week called It's Monday! What Are You Reading and I'm going to sign up. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed, and as I started a kidlit book, I'll check in with either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers for their version.

This week I started:

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the AmazonThe Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Rogue Prince (Sky Full of Stars, #1)IndigoEqual is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income InequalitySuperstarThe Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #14)

The Lost City of Z, David Grann.  The Science Friday radio show had this as their summer read a few years back, so I proposed it to my Tuesday book club. I guess it's good because my brother finished it already. I'm liking it but have only started.

The Gunslinger, Stephen King. I ordered this for my summer reading team, but it came too late. And then Sword and Laser podcast picked it for their August read. I'm so lucky!

The Rogue Prince, Lindsay Buroker. A good author, Rachel Aaron, puts her books into Amazon Prime. I collect my ebooks as NOOKS, so that blocks me from reading her latest stuff. This made my son sad, so I signed up for a month of Amazon Prime book-reading thing so he could read his book for free. Then I noticed that another author I like, Buroker, also had some stuff hidden away in the Prime Zone, so I'll see how far I get before my one month trial runs out.

Indigo, [just about everyone]. So ten mystery/fantasy authors collaborated on this. I thought it would be interlocking stories, but it seems to be one story (unless I just haven't gotten far enough in). Interesting.

Equal Is Unfair, Don Watkins and Yaron Brooks. This is the next Reading Across the Aisles pick and it looks like an interesting topic with poor representation. I'm trying to time it so I finish just before the group meets, but the first chapters are not promising. And I'm very unimpressed with their idea of evidence -- apparently ad copy luring Irish immigrants is strong proof of the ease of upward mobility in 1800's America. The idea is whether striving for economic equality is a bad policy, but Watkins and Brooks apparently think acknowledging that white men have things easier than black women in our society is equivalent to demanding we immediately transition to a currency-free Cambodian gulag where ambition is ruthlessly punished. Really. Their argumentative style is to set up straw men, demolish them, then pose for accolades while quoting Atlas Shrugged. I hope our discussion group ignores the book and discussing economic goals for society.

Superstar, Mandy Davis. This is kidlit book about a child starting fifth grade after being homeschooled and the problems that ensue. The kid is pretty much a poster child for Aspergers, but apparently this will come as a shock to his mom and the school. I bogged down when this became the next plot point, because his mom would have had to be utterly neglectful to not have noticed, but I don't think I'm supposed to think that. Also, what I really want is a homeschooled kid who goes to school, manages to fit in, but goes back to homeschooling because that's clearly more fun and often a better way to learn. Anyone know a book like that?

The Murder of Mary Russell, Laurie King. I forget how annoying Mary Russell is when she is all superior and then messes up just like a normal person.

Only seven books! Just what the summer ordered.

I finished:

Blowing My CoverEchoes in Death (In Death, #44)The Rogue Prince (Sky Full of Stars, #1)

Blowing My Cover, Lindsay Moran. She quit when she got engaged, both because she felt the CIA was utterly useless after not predicting or stopping 9/11, and because she couldn't face lying to a guy she wanted to build a future with (it was OK with the various affairs she had with cute men going nowhere over the course of the book). I understood the latter reason -- the protocols did indeed seem asinine and poisonous, but I that the attitude that missing something made the entire mission useless rather immature. It was a fun read, but I'm just as happy Moran isn't spying for my country anymore.

Echoes In Death, J.D. Robb. I believe this is the latest Robb book -- I have officially caught up! Eve confronts her past directly, solves the mystery, and protects the innocent, and Roarke is supportive. I want some Peabody development -- maybe someone could kidnap her e-geek and they could save him and wring an engagement out of them?

The Rogue Prince, Lindsay Buroker. I haven't finished the previous series, but I forget where I am so in the interest of speed I'm working on the Sky Full of Stars books. Young Jelena is learning to captain her space freighter while rescuing abused animals, sparring with her adopted brother/engineer, and coaxing what appears to be her love interest back into humanity and away from his career path as an assassin prince.

Hmm, I started 7 and finished 3. I should try to read more short books next week. 

Picture books and Short Stories:

Oops, nothing. Not much library time this week.

Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Desperate HeartsWhen the Sea Turned to Silver

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Part 10. Time to awaken the wounded.

Desperate Hearts, Rosanne Bittner. Everyone in town gives her the same advice (get a gun), but our Heroine is Spunky and Independent and will go her own way. What do they know, anyway? Also, she has to nurse the nice man back to health.

When the Sea Turned to Silver, 
Grace Lin. The next audio book for the 2016 Cybils finalists. It's an OK audio but I miss the pictures that I know are in there.


These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.

The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenKenilworthSammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen (Sammy Keyes, #9)The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)Reading and Learning to Read

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen.

The Emerald Atlas, John Stephens.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016! 8 / a lot. Made no progress on anything but a few discs of the audio book.
  2. Reading My Library:  My definition of hurry up and finish apparently does not involve hurrying.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 26/51. No luck. Some books aren't even set on earth.