Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer Reading Programs For Adults!

doppelme avatarWell, the kids can stop worrying about me nagging them to join the library's summer reading program. Now I can stop living vicariously through them and sign up for myself at King County Library System's Adults Summer Reading! Mine is much better than the one for those silly kids anyway.

I've got badges to earn, and lists to make, and quizes to complete, and goals to set, and, and, and! It's like they took everything I like most in life, wrapped it up in books, and gave it to me. I'm as happy as a cat in cream. A dolphin in the sea. A worm in a book.

Anyway, I'm plugging along, entering my books and my time, and looking out for a chance to make a good quiz. I joined last week, and I've already reached at least level one for most of the badges!

The badges include:

You've Joined! This one was not difficult.

Reading Time: I forget if I set a goal or if there is a program goal, but I haven't made it yet.

Ebook Reading: I got this one.

Reading Goal
: I set this for I forget how many books but I haven't made it yet.

Quiz Maker: I did one for Missoula.

Quiz Taker: I'm at level 15!

Quote: I used one from a poetry book. Also found a good one in Most Dangerous.

List: No surprise that I've earned this one!

Tag: I can throw some down!

Similar Title: This was fun, because I had just noticed similarities between two books.

Star Rating: Rate it, baby!

Shelve it!: This is just putting books on your Summer Reading list. I think it's supposed to only be library books. I'm at 8.

Comment : Soon I'll have something to say.

Summary: I'm not good at these. But I'll do one for a virtual badge!

Also, for my own personal Summer Reading, I want to do a book a day (#bookaday on twitter). I'll count on my picture books to keep me on track. Summer for me started on June 25th, and ends whenever the school year starts up again. So:

June:

25:  Missoula, Jon Krakauer
26: Lock In, John Scalzi
27:All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown, Sidney Taylor
28: The Spider's War, Daniel Abraham
29: Kiss Me Deadly, ed. Trisha Telep
30: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen,  Lois McMaster Bujold

July:
  1. The Darling Dahlia's and the Eleven O'Clock Lady, Susan Wittig Albert 
  2. Starry River of the Sky, Grace Lin 
  3. Only a Promise, Mary Balogh 6/29/16



Monday, June 27, 2016

Schoolyear is OVER

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
School finally wrapped up, although with a little more drama that usual. One of my kids had a teacher with an odd attitude towards assignments, in that he would refuse to give them to my child but continued to grade them, mostly as incompletes. It took a lot of work to actually get the rubrics from him, as well as negotiate due dates that came in advance of final grades. Apparently this teacher does not handle change well, so when my kid was transferred into his class mid-year he handled it by hiding in a locked desk drawer all the assignments that had already been started by the rest of the class because he would have had to think about how to let the newcomer do them.

Of course, my kid also has a reputation for forgetting work and losing rubrics, so it took some time for me to realize that in this case the problem was not actually originating with him. Then more time was wasted as I tried to train the kid in how to work with the teacher. Then in the final month I went full helicopter mom and stormed around, which apparently was something the teacher understood and so we got the semesters work unlocked and my kid got to try to do it all in the last few weeks of school. He's not getting the A he had last semester, but he's not flunking either.

In other news, almost all their finals went well, so the final texting before they set off for a European Vacation with their dad and the new wife and the tiny half-siblings was congenial and pleasant. Now I can concentrate on personal stuff such as this reading contest I've entered where teams compete to see who can read more books. My team isn't winning but we are all dedicated to ticking things off lists (even if finishing the list isn't the best win condition) so we are happy. But it explains the rather inflated reading log. I'm also hoping to do #BookADay this summer, which should dovetail well with this reading game.

The Book Date is collecting the roundups of what everyone is reading and talking about this week. I'll also look in with Teach Mentor Texts/UnLeashing Readers which does the same thing for kidlit, since I read picture books and Cybils books.

My pile of books for this week:


Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, #8)Paper HeartsPretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The ShrikeFive Thousand Years of SlaveryUpdraft (Bone Universe, #1)The Popcorn Astronauts: And Other Biteable Rhymes
GeorgeFull Cicada MoonA Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies, #2)Here There Be Monsters (Iron Seas, #0.5)Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College TownLock In (Lock In, #1)


Magic Shifts
, Ilona Andrews. This Reading my Library Quest book got pulled up the list because I wanted something fast to read while waiting for scuba to happen. It hit the spot perfectly.

Paper Hearts
, Meg Wiviott. A Cybils poetry finalist. Powerful book about friendship during the Holocaust.

* Pretty Deadly, Kelly Sue DeConnick. The graphic novel selection for my local Vaginal Fantasy meet-up. Lovely to look at, interesting story, except for the part where my inability to remember pictures meant I couldn't tell anyone apart so everything was very confusing. Eventually I figured out how many characters there were, and who and what they were doing, but it was too late to really enjoy the story. I think normal people would not have this trouble.

* Five Thousand Years of Slavery, Marjorie Gann & Janet Willen. Vivid and stark description of slavery through the ages, avoiding glamorization and refusing to avoid unpleasant truths. Care is taken to treat slaves as people, not just victims or sad stories, and the modern information is documented as well as illustrated with actual cases. I got this book from LibraryThings Early Reviewer program, although it's not new anymore.

Updraft, Fran Wilde. The June Sword and Laser pick. I'm frustrated at not knowing the rules of the society, because our viewpoint character seems to have limited comprehension of it. She has no idea which rules are important, which are guidelines, which are matters of life or death, or which are more etiquette based. So it's hard to judge what's going on, or when she is making a mistake.

* George, Alex Gino. Cute middle grade book about a transgender girl who comes out to her family and friends. I was distracted by the choice of play (Charlotte's Web) because I don't think of Wilber and Charlotte as draped in essential gender roles, and by George's childish (well, she's a child) confusion between gender and sex. I can see why parents hesitate to let their children make irrevocable medical decisions before this understanding deepens.

* The Popcorn Astronauts, Deborah Ruddall. Cybils Poetry finalist. Cute picture book with lively illustrations and poems about food. The "Popcorn Astronauts" was a good pick for a headline.

* Full Cicada Moon, Marilyn Hilton. The last Cybils Poetry finalist! A verse novel, so it started with several strikes against it. A good novel, but not poetry gold.

* A Case of Possession, KJ Charles. The second book in the Magpie Lord series, about an English lord who returned to take up his title after a few decades fighting in the streets of Shanghai and the middle class magic enforcer who loves him. Together they do magic and fight crime.

* Here There Be Monsters, Mejlean Brook. The alt pick for June Vaginal Fantasy. I like these stories, which says good things about Brook because I'm not usually a steampunk fan, and her men are a bit alpha-maley for my taste. But the women don't find that attractive, so I can get past it. I like reading about people who are really good at what they do, and I liked the solution to the problems in their relationship.

Missoula, Jon Krakauer. A stark look at how easily many men get away with raping their friends, and how the criminal and legal system is set up to help them. It also ruined my ability to read a current book club pick because of the rampant consent issues among the romantic pairings. "Get away!" "That's how I know you love it, baby!"

* Lock In, John Scalzi. Scalzi writes fun science fiction, where the has a good idea, and then puts witty and sarcastic people into the plot to explore it. This one was fun but not all that deep, so it made for a pleasant fast read. Also, he surprised me several times with the twists, and did some fun things with narrative (for example, we never are told if the first person narrator is a man or a woman).

* Books I started this week. Most books tend last for weeks on my lists, because I have this habit of reading dozens of things at once. But occasionally I keep focus for several days on end.

I looked at a picture book while waiting for my kids at the library:

Princess in Training

Princess in Training, Tammi Sauer. This is a cute and fun story that doesn't break much new ground but should be entertaining. It features standard anti-princess stuff about girl stuff being boring and active stuff being valuable. Our heroine is bad at waving and dancing and fashion walking, but good at karate and diving and skateboarding, so when the dragon shows up she can save everyone rather than wait for a prince. I like the idea that princess can be active, but I wish the message didn't come packaged with the idea that girls traditionally like stupid stuff, and that stuff regular girls (not like us, darling) like is stupid.

I started and am still reading two more books:

Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal LoveMy Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Kiss Me Deadly, ed. Trisha Telep This is my June Surprise Me pick, which I'm reading in between Cybils categories. It's a collection of supernatural short stories.

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Amos Tutuola. The next book in the History of Black Fiction list I'm working through.

I started but do not plan to finish two books:
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ells...Flesh (Flesh, #1)

Most Dangerous, Steve Sheinkin. I read this a few months ago as it won the Cybils YA Nonfiction category, and then I recommended it to my Tuesday book club. I don't want to really reread it already, but I got it and leafed through it so I would know what happened in the part we discuss this week.

Flesh, Kylie Scott. This is the June Vaginal Fantasy pick, but the men are too creepy and uninterested in consent for me to handle so soon after reading Missoula. Also, they have terrible gun habits. DNF

Bookmarks moved in several books:

The Flowers of AdonisThe Spider's War (The Dagge...Windswept (Windswept, #1)Flight BehaviorWHISPER OF MAGICThe Sea Without a Shore (Lt. Leary, #10)

The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. Treachery and mistrust stalk the Athenian fleets.

The Spider's War, Daniel Abraham. My Reading My Library book. The cracks in the final plan are splintering around them.

Windswept, Adam Rakunas. This was the book the very kind author gave me at Norwescon. It's more action that I imagined union recruitment would involve, in a good way.

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver. Reading My Library Quest. More butterfly visitors, and more confusion about what their presence means. Disc 4.

A Whisper of Magic, Patricia Rice. Still interesting, although the girl seems to have a 21st century understanding of the rules of propriety and why she should masquerade as somebody's wife while traveling around the country.

The Sea Without a Shore, David Drake. This is the current book being serialized on the Baen Free Radio hour, so every week we'll listen to a 10-30 minute audio excerpt. My kid was a bit confused on what was going on with Daniel's wife and whether she was important. Introductions are hard when you only hear 15 minutes a week of the story.

The next few books I'm not really reading, just dipping into between the books I'm trying to finish so that I can pretend that I'm going to read the books on my bookcases.


A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)KenilworthSammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen (Sammy Keyes, #9)Reading and Learning to Read

A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George. I dislike Gideon's young friend.
Emerald Atlas, John Stephens. Kate decides to go off on her own. The day needs saving.
Kenilworth, Walter Scott. The wife does not appreciate her clandestine status.
Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen. More dead cats, and then more lies from her mother to complicate Sammy's life.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca. Wrapping up strategies for encouraging reading comprehension. I should write some down because they would work for book club next year.

2016 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015: 31 out of 82. Finished Poetry; after I finish the June Surprise I'll start Middle Grade Fiction.
  2. Reading My Library:  I hope to finish The Spider's War early next week. I'm on disc 4 of many of Flight Behavior.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 30/51.  On track! It gets harder...
  4. Full House Challenge:  23/25. Need memoir and family relationship.
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 115.  I think I get my money's worth.
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: 11/12. 9/12. Need autistic book. Also poetry. Still tracking the mental health of my protagonists, who are mostly undiagnosed.
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  21. Starting the third level already!
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 17/20. 
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 10/12. No change. I need a debut author in 2016, and an immigrant experience book. 
  10. Surprise Me Challenge:  Finish the first third of Kiss Me Deadly.
  11. Flash Bingo: Summer time! New bingo card! First Bingo!
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 12/12. Now I'll work on the 36 challenge -- 25/36

Friday, June 24, 2016

More Reading For Me

badge-4
This week was a fast trip to the library, with me arriving only minutes before the boys. I barely had time to pick up one picture book to browse, let alone flit off to the shelves for more. Since I'm trying to keep my library borrowing within the realm of what I can read, that is probably just as well.

I'm keeping up with the Adult Summer Reading program, mounting up a pile of badges with glee. I need to make a quiz for some book I've read, but I want to read something popular first. And my kids go off with their dad this weekend for a three week vacation, so I'll have even more reading time available.

Of course, I had dropped by the library for some reason that escapes me earlier in the week, where I managed to check out two books, but one of them I've already read so I returned it today:

Town in a Cinnamon Toast (A...George

Town in a Cinnamon Toast, B.B. Haywood. I picked this up because it looks like a cosy mystery set in Maine. I need Maine.

George, Alex Gino. This was available as well, and I've heard about it, so I grabbed it. It's about a transgender girl who comes out by playing the ultra-feminine Charlotte instead of the super-masculine Wilber at a school play. I admit I find this a very strange play for the teachers to decide to double down on gender roles; costume-wise both are completely androgynous.

My hold shelf loot was three books:
Twin Spica, Volume: 10Footer Davis Probably Is CrazyMost Dangerous: Daniel Ells...

Twin Spica, Kou Yaginuma, the next book in my current manga series.

Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy, Susan Vaught. My next Cybils book.

Most Dangerous, Steve Sheinkin. I read this a few months ago, but my Tuesday book club is reading it and I should know where the spoilers are. Of course by now we're on the last week so there are no spoilers, but that's how I roll.

I also got two ebooks, as well as a bunch of ebooks that my son needed to mine for quotes for a school project. This will pump up my numbers until I figure out how to return them, otherwise I'd look almost sane!

A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies, #2)Ancillary Justice (Imperial...

A Case of Possession, KJ Charles. The second in a series that started with a Vaginal Fantasy pick that I liked.

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie. My next Tuesday night book club pick.

That's a total of 29+2=31 things out (I just returned a huge pile of Cybils books).  I'll go look at the Library Loot which is at Silly Little Mischief this week to see what everyone else is getting.  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post - feel free to steal the button (that pile of books up at the top) - and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. 

Library Questing

Here I document any progress I make in my Quest to read a book from every shelf in my local library.

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, #8)I skipped ahead again to read the latest Kate Daniels book by Ilona Andrews: Magic Shifts. Kate and Curran again have to fight scary magic monsters, and this time they do it (mostly) without the full power of the were-pack behind them, since Curran as retired as King of Beasts. I do appreciate it when a long-running series makes an effort to streamline the backstory -- now it's just them and their small business, and their kid, and their pile of friends and allies they've built up over the years. Kate still has to make tough choices, which she does with her usual sword-sharp sense of morals and duty, and there is fun dialogue and scary battle scenes all over the place. Still a fun read.

I'll get back to Daniel Abraham's The Spider's War and the audio version of Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver now. I'm on disc 4 of the latter, and I'm a bit worried I won't be able to renew it.

Monday, June 20, 2016

One Scuba

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I spent the weekend shuttling my son between the classroom and the beach for his scuba class, with the end result that he is now PADI certified and eligible to dive on our cruise this summer. Meanwhile my other son toiled away on the computer at home to finish up all his assignments, including two that should have been done months ago but due to a variety of circumstances, of which the one I look most beady-eyed upon is the complete disorganization of his teacher, were not complete.

I hope the kid learned an important lesson that if your teacher says not to worry that you have showed up in the middle of the assignment that is a third of your grade, it does not mean that you should not worry. It means you should not panic but should keep hounding the teacher until there is a way for you to do the assignment. And that a teacher who says "I'm sure we will find a way for you to pass" is not being as reassuring as he thinks he is.

Anyway, I spent a lot of the week parked in various parks or parking lots and reading books, and then found a comfortable coffee shop with WIFI so I could cyberspy on the working son and help nudge him along. The scuba class lasted the full 9-5 both days, so I was glad I had a large pile of books. I did sneak off for a lunch date with working son so we could argue about the CYBILS YA speculative fiction finalists since we had both finished reading our way through the short list. We liked them all except for one, which of course turned out to be the winner. Humph! We would have picked Bone Gap.

The Book Date is collecting the roundups of what everyone is reading and talking about this week. I'll also look in with Teach Mentor Texts/UnLeashing Readers which does the same thing for kidlit, since I read picture books and Cybils books.

This week I finished seven books. Well, one was a short story, another was a manga, and one was the second half of a book I had read previously so it's not really as much as it sounds:

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!Blake: or; The Huts of AmericaFirst Frost (Waverley Family, #2)A Case of Spirits (A Charm of Magpies, #2.5)Twin Spica, Volume 9Only Beloved (The Survivors' Club, #7)

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry, ed. J. Patrick Lewis. A Cybils poetry finalist. A selection of poems accompanied by brilliant nature photography. I really liked it, both the selections and the pictures.

Awakening to the Sacred, Lama Surya Das. This didn't have any deep truths, but the slow way I read meant that I had many reminders of the importance of staying balanced and maintaining a spiritual center to my life. So I'm glad I read it.

Blake: The Huts of America
, Martin Delaney. OK, now I see why it's science fiction. Many people from different versions of Christianity come together, and someone logically explains why the differences don't matter, and they all nod and come to an agreement. Anyway, I finished the second half, which has them all set to start the general rebellion. I'm sad that the rest wasn't written.

* First Frost, Sarah Addison Allen. A Reading My Library Quest book. The library wouldn't let me renew it, so I read it in a day, and then they let me renew it after all! But I enjoyed the combination of magic and contemporary writing, with characters fitting themselves into their families and their lives in ways that fit or seemed awkward until settling.

* A Case of Spirits (Charm of Magpies 2.5), K.J. Charles. This short story follows the Vaginal Fantasy pick of a few months ago that I liked.

* Twin Spica 9, Kou Yaginuma. I'm still enjoying this manga about kids at astronaut training school. Right now we are looking at a teacher infuriated by the greed that caused the disaster a generation ago, an old friend who is crumbling under loneliness and pressure, and the secrets of an older friend that seem in danger of coming out into the light.

* Only Beloved, Mary Balogh. The last Survivor's Club book (I think), featuring two people in their forties, which I always like in my romances. The action subplot was silly but I liked the story of two sensible people building a marriage together, learning to communicate and support each other. It helped that they had the support of his vast fortune and army of servants, of course.

* Books I started this week. Most books tend last for weeks on my lists, because I have this habit of reading dozens of things at once. But occasionally I keep focus for several days on end.

I looked at some picture books while waiting for my kid at the libary:
FloatHow the Library (Not the Prince) Saved RapunzelWaiting for High Tide

Float, Daniel Miyares. Lovely wordless book with a strong plot, gentle emotional core and a delicately perfect balance of colors.

How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel, Wendy Meddeur. Fun and library positive but I felt the ending message about the prince was misplaced. Rapunzel here never cared about the prince anymore than she cared about food. She only cares about (library) books. The moral is talking back to events in canon that don't happen in this story. I prefer the message conveyed by the story to the same message explicitly and didactically explained.

Waiting For High Tide, Nikki McClure. Wordy and black and white. I am not sure who the audience is although I liked it. Do 8-10 year olds read picture books? I think there is a stigma, which is a shame because books like this are often wonderful.

I started and am still reading three new books:

Updraft (Bone Universe, #1)Paper HeartsMagic Shifts (Kate Daniels, #8)

Updraft, Fran Wilde. The June Sword and Laser pick. I'm frustrated at not knowing the rules of the society, because our viewpoint character seems to have limited comprehension of it. She has no idea which rules are important, which are guidelines, which are matters of life or death, or which are more etiquette based. So it's hard to judge what's going on, or when she is making a mistake.

Paper Hearts, Meg Wiviott. A Cybils poetry finalist. Powerful book about friendship during the Holocaust.

Magic Shifts, Ilona Andrews. This Reading my Library Quest book got pulled up the list because I wanted something fast to read while waiting for scuba to happen. It hit the spot perfectly.

Bookmarks moved in several books:

The Flowers of AdonisThe Spider's War (The Dagge...Windswept (Windswept, #1)Wool (Wool, #1)Flight BehaviorWHISPER OF MAGICThe Sea Without a Shore (Lt. Leary, #10)

The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. More daring do from our hero, who just talked himself into capturing a city. Athens is on the rise again on the roller coaster of war.

The Spider's War, Daniel Abraham. This is my next Reading My Library book. Some people are being cured of their magical delusions -- but are they still responsible for what they did under the influence? And is it to late to save them, or the world?

Windswept, Adam Rakunas. This was the book the very kind author gave me at Norwescon. The struggle for headcount is real.

Wool, Hugh Howey. They are recruiting a new sheriff from deep down, but I suspect IT will not approve. Beware angering the computer department, O Best Beloved!

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver. Reading My Library Quest. I just noticed that Kingsolver herself is reading it! I am starting to like Delarobia (sp?), the main character.

A Whisper of Magic, Patricia Rice. The different ways the two main characters think about their similar magic gift is interesting, but I'd prefer it if they'd talk to each other about it instead of storming around in disagreement.

The Sea Without a Shore, David Drake. This is the current book being serialized on the Baen Free Radio hour, so every week we'll listen to a 10-30 minute audio excerpt. So far we've been introduced to the main characters and a few side ones, and my kid is a little confused about who are the important ones. He's suspicious because this isn't the first in the series.

The next few books I'm not really reading, just dipping into between the books I'm trying to finish so that I can pretend that I'm going to read the books on my bookcases.


A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)KenilworthSammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen (Sammy Keyes, #9)Reading and Learning to Read

A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George.
Emerald Atlas, John Stephens.
Kenilworth, Walter Scott. The alchemist lackey checks on the fair lady.
Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca. Exercises to show kids that they understand what they see in a story or article.

2016 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015:  30 out of 82. Two more poetry books, one short and one long.
  2. Reading My Library:  Put down The Spider's War temporarily to finish First Frost since the library was calling it home. Then snuck Magic Shifts into my book bag to have some easy reading in a parking lot. But I managed to read a little in The Spider's War as well. I'm on disc 3 of many of Flight Behavior.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 28/51.  Picked up North Caroline. Still need South Carolina.
  4. Full House Challenge:  19/25. I'm being very particular about what I consider "Book Club Worthy."
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 108. 
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: Kidlit: 11/12. Paper Hearts is my Holocaust spot.  Adult lit: I have to say that LGBT poetry seems like something I'm unlikely to read by accident. 9/12.  In June I'm looking at the mental status of my characters. So far two main character and four supporting ones have a mental disorder,  and one supporting character is on the autistic spectrum. 
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  18. Cleared out a musty old book.
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 17/20. Would I notice if I read a Pulitzer winner?
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 10/12. No change. I need a debut author in 2016, and an immigrant experience book. 
  10. Surprise Me Challenge:  I have the June one waiting as soon as I finish poetry. There is a chance I'll start it in June. 
  11. Flash Bingo: Summer time! New bingo card! No bingos yet!
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 12/12. Now I'll work on the 36 challenge -- 25/36