Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day At Home

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Lots of homework piling up for my high schoolers in these last few weeks of school, so these weekend was planned as a big catch-up. Somehow my proposal of lawn care as a good break from studying is not meeting with universal approval.

I'm doing some reading catch-up as well, with most of my time spent reading the things the library wants back, and then making sure I'm up to date on my book clubs. The Cybils horror stories are not really my cup of tea, but I'm trying to give them a fair chance.

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 a lot of that this week.

This week I finished only three books:

Silver on the Road (The Devil's West, #1)Of Mice and Magic (Hamster Princess, #2)Midnight Crossroad (Midnigh...

Silver on the Road
, Laura Anne Gilman. Our heroine isn't sure whether she's a hapless pawn or a budding adult. Working out which makes for an interesting coming-of-age story with an imaginative world behind it and a diverse mixture of friends and foes, sometimes alternating between the two. I liked the western feel, and also that I decided to place the setting as Nebraska, so it works for my 50 States challenge.

* Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic, Ursula Vernon. Harriett continues with her hobby of rescuing people, even as she misses her invulnerability. A fun mix of magic, silly adults, and child creatures with solid common sense as their strongest weapon.

Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris. I finished rereading my copy of this story. It works better the second time around as I'm not distracting myself playing "where is this character from" instead of enjoying the interactions. I need to see if I bought the second in the series; I'd like to own that one as well.

* 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 started and am still reading two new books:
All the Birds in the SkyThe Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1)

All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders. A Sword and Laser pick from several months ago.

The Magpie Lord, K.J. Charles. Last month's Vaginal Fantasy pick, so I'd better get cracking on this. Turns out it's been on my TBR list for a few years, so I feel like I'm getting double credit.

I read some picture books in the library:
But I've Used All My Pocket ChangeYou Can Do It, Bert!Loula Is Leaving for AfricaThe Library Ghost

But I Used All My Pocket Change, Lauren Child. I like the idea of being kind and having it work, but Lola's complete transformation seemed fake. Charlie's infinite kindness pushes the line between compassionate older brother and living doormat, especially since Lola didn't really need her trinket from the zoo. Finally, the idea that it's cheaper to buy a book in a zoo shop than a local store seem unlikely.

You Can Do It, Bert, Ole Konnecke. Simple pictures, non-condescending language and a complex emotional plot make this a great picture book for preschoolers and up. I loved the white space and the expressive pictures, as well as Bert's hesitance and ultimate victory.

Loula Is Leaving For Africa, Anne Villeneuve. The good thing about servants is that they can be parental substitutes if your family is neglectful. It's cute that the girl can run away with the chauffeur but I wondered if he had a family that he never had time to see as he spends his days with the daughter of his employers.

The Library Ghost, Carole Boston Weatherford. Sprightly rhymes tell the story of a haunting librarian with lots of excuses to namecheck literary figures. The illustrations justify all the text, which rounds itself off with a tribute to reference librarians, even the ones who are bad at riddles.

Bookmarks moved in several books:
Under a Graveyard Sky (Black Tide Rising, #1)The Flowers of AdonisLeft for Dead (Ali Reynolds, #7)Crux (Nexus, #2)The City's Son (The Skyscraper Throne, #1)Slasher Girls & Monster BoysBreakout (Dred Chronicles, #3)Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

Under a Graveyard Sky, John Ringo. Into the crew sections of the cruise boat. At least these survivors had a chance to stock up on supplies.

The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. How far can revenge go?

Left For Dead, J.A. Jance. My audio book for my Reading My Library Quest. I'm really rooting for the cop and his family now.

Crux, Ramez Naam. The good guys (I think they are supposed to be the good guys) are idiots.

The City's Son, Tom Pollock. The big battle against the bad boss did not go well.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, ed. Genevieve Tucholke. Definitely horror. Ick. Yick. I'm too squeamish for most of these stories, even the ones without bloodshed.

Breakout, Ann Aguirre. Last in the series, and from my own personal shelves. I'm enjoying this, and it's my go-to paperback in my bag. Lots of character attrition, but our heroes are making their final attempt at getting off their prison.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham. The next Reading My Library book. Through the Revolutionary War with the highs of writing the "Declaration of Independence" and the lows of being governor of a Virginia under attack, and all the way to the ambassadorship to France and the writing of the constitution.

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)KenilworthReading and Learning to Read

A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George. The police question an old man.
Awakening to the Sacred, Lama Surya Das. How to meditate all over your life.
Emerald Atlas, John Stephens.
Kenilworth, Walter Scott.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca.

2016 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015:  26 out of 82. Still reading the last SF for Young Adults; it's horror short stories and tends to give me nightmares.
  2. Reading My Library:  Left For Dead is on disc 6. Reading Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, which is the last Large Print book.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 25/51. After comparing maps for a long time, I placed Silver on the Road in Nebraska for most of the plot, so I'm still on target in May. Left For Dead is an Arizona book, so I have a start on getting to 30 in June, but things start getting harder now.
  4. Full House Challenge:  7/25 
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 92. And almost everything I'm reading is a library book.
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: Kidlit: 10/12. No change. But a waiting Cybils book will fill out the Holocaust spot.  Adult lit: 8/12. No change. I'll keep tracking the economic class of my characters -- Upper (8), middle (8), or lower (8). I seem to read about the rich and the poor.
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  17. I definitely read a book I own this week. Go me!  
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 16/20. No change. The next ones look hard.
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 10/12. I need a debut author in 2016, and an immigrant experience book. 
  10. Surprise Me Challenge:  I received the May book, and plan to slip it in between Cybils categories. So as soon as I finish the horror stories I'll start it. 
  11. Flash Bingo: Blackout! 
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 10/12. I'm stuck on horror. Cybils to the rescue! I'm counting the old science fiction books by black authors as classics.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Plans and Plans

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The problem with libraries is that the only limit on how much I can read it is time, which I apparently believe is magically expandable. So every week I check out books for my Cybils challenge, my Library Quest, my many book clubs, for any series or favorite authors that have produced new books, and also anything that catches my eye.

When I buy books, I actually sort of have a budget so I can't get too many at once, and I now have a designated spot for new books that I haven't read yet, so it glowers at me and threatens to spill over when my reach exceeds my grasp.  But library books are more cheerful about it -- they know they'll head back at a designated time, so no worries about accumulating too much stuff. This is a problem that I enjoy wrestling with, because there is no way I can lose. I either read too many library books, most of which I enjoy, or I go back to buying the books I bought, all of which I expect to like.

My hold shelf loot was three books:

Front LinesA Darker Shade of MagicTwin Spica

Front Lines, Michael Grant. This is mostly for my kids, who are Michael Grant fans.

A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab. Finally! This is the Sword and Laser book from April.

Twin Spica 9, Kou Yaginuma. I continue working my way through this manga.

This was actually a two library week. I'm vaguely trying to work my way through Nisi Shawl's "Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction."  Several books weren't available through my library system, but then I thought to check Seattle's library. And while I was picking them up, I thought to check the shelves for the first book, which I had read online. They had it, and the print edition contains the missing back half, so I got that as well.
Blake, or The Huts of AmericaThe Black Nation NovelThe Palm-wine Drinkard ; And, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Blake, or the Huts of America, Martin Delaney. So I can get to the science fiction parts and the slave revolt. The online version stops early.

The Black Nation, This will at least discuss Pauline Hopkins Of One Blood, and if I'm extra lucky it will have excerpts.

The Palm Wine Drunkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Amos Tutuola. I'm interested in the second book, which is a collection of related stories.

I also got a new ebook, also from the Seattle library. It's great to be have access to two powerful library systems!:
The Magpie Lord

The Magpie Lord, K.J. Charles. Last month's Vaginal Fantasy book.

That's a total of  things out, which is too many. 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.

Left For Dead, J.A. Jance. I'm on disc 5 and enjoying it a lot; the different plot threads are starting to come together. Four more discs to go, I think.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art o...I'm starting Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. I  haven't gotten very far yet, but I'd better get cracking because it's due back next week. It's too thick to carry around, though.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reading Without Walls Challenge

RWW-ChallengeGene Luen Yang, aka the US Library of Congress appointed 2016 National Ambassador for Children's Literature, is running The Reading Without Walls challenge to support his platform for supporting children's literature. So I shall start doing his challenge to support him.

It's another form of diversity challenge, where diversity isn't the modern term that means minorities but just means people different from yourself, so that your reading is a window instead of always a mirror. That's sounds like fun to me, so here goes
His challenge to readers is:

1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.
  • Twin Spica 8, Kou Yaginuma 5/20/16 (This also hits #3, but not #2)
  • The City's Son, Tom Pollock 5/30/16 
2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.
  • Silver on the Road, Laura Anne Gilman 5/25/16 (also hits #1)
  • Breakout, Ann Aguirre 5/30/16 (also hits #1)
  • Under a Graveyard Sky, John Ringo 5/30/16
3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. This might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book, or a hybrid book.

Gold Star Books (books that hit all three):
  • Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic, Ursula Vernon 5/26/16
If you really want to go for the gold star, read a book that fits all three criteria!
RWW-Criteria

When you finish, take a photo of you and the book (or just the book if you’re shy) and post it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadingWithoutWalls. You’ll inspire others to do the same!

If you are a teacher, librarian, or bookseller, you can challenge your students, patrons, and customers to read without walls, too! Check out what San Francisco’s Live Oak School did this past school year!

Monday, May 23, 2016

PTA Party

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
After a week of collecting clothes for our PTA fundraiser, I zipped off to a PTA conference. Wow are there a lot of people at a conference. I alternated between attending ginormous business meetings, smaller training sessions on how to stay legal while being a PTA, and huddling in my room reading books.

In other words, a great weekend away!

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 a lot of that this week.

This week I finished six books:

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about EverythingBlake: or; The Huts of AmericaReady Player OneTwin Spica, Volume 8Lemonade MouthShades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)


Living With a Wild God
, Barbara Ehrenreich. The next Library Quest book. A very personalized look at the history and science of religion.

Blake, or the Huts of America, Martin Delaney. This is the first book on Nisi Shawl's Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction. I also think my copy is missing a lot of the text, so I'm going to check a different copy to see if it has the rest of it. I know the book is unfinished, but I think what I read is more unfinished than it has to be -- so far it's hard to see how it counts as science fiction. But once I got used to the period style (and the dialect spellings) the story worked, and it was a vivid mirror of the realities for African Americans before the American Civil War.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline. This was a lighthearted romp that made me feel very old. It's like finding that I remember events covered in books that win historical fiction awards. But I'm glad I read it because now I've caught up with my kids, who enjoyed the gaming parts while tolerating the nostalgia bits -- I suspect that we have reversed experiences in that way, although I bet I do more gaming than they do nostalgia.

*Twin Spica 8, Kou Yagimuma. OK, it's true that I get confused about who is who, especially during backstory flashbacks, because basically everyone in a graphic novel looks alike to me. If anyone changes their hair to indicate the passage of time, it takes me an amazingly long time to realize this is not a completely new person. But it does a great job of capturing the camaraderie of school years, where everyone is working towards goals that mean breaking up your friendship groups, so suddenly you realize the cost of achieving your hearts desire, and that life means giving up things to get things. And it's done with rockets!

Lemonade Mouth, Mark Peter Hughes. I read half of this a few months back, and then the library called it home, so now I finished it. It took me a while to remember which typography went with which character (everyone in the band got to narrate their own account), but then I got into it again. It's a fun mix of early teen political activism (don't sell out our lemonade!) and music and angst (school is hard! romance is fraught! parents are mean! life messes us up!).

*Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal. This has been on my list for ages, and I finally read it for last month's Vaginal Fantasy alt pick. It's a Austin pastiche with extra magic, where young ladies add glamour to their musical and artistic talents. It had kind of a Sense & Sensibility vibe, with the older sister tied to common sense and the younger one dashing off being an idiot. Good enough that I will look about for the sequels.

* 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.

There were also several short stories I read as I continue down Nisi Shawl's Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction. I'm doing OK in getting (free) copies of her list, thanks to Project Gutenberg and by back up amazing library, Seattle Public Library, which often does better with obscure texts. Otherwise I turn to library loan, which is slower. Anyway, the short stories were:

"The Goophered Grapevine" by Charles Chesnutt, and "The Comet" by W.E.B. Du Bois. The longer texts earlier in the syllabus should be showing up at the library soon. The Chesnutt was tall tale that is probably notable for its place in literary history; the Du Bois was a powerful story with a stinger ending.

I started and am still reading books:
Breakout (Dred Chronicles, #3)Thomas Jefferson: The Art of PowerMissoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

Breakout, Ann Aguirre. Last in the series, and from my own personal shelves. I'm enjoying this, and it's my go-to paperback in my bag.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham. The next Reading My Library book. Chosen for the author's last name (mine is Mitcham).

Missoula, Jon Krakauer. I've only read a few pages in this; I started it while waiting for some panels go get going at the conference. It looks a bit more high-brow than the Aguirre.

I read some picture books in the library:
The Mighty Avengers: An Origin StoryTake Away the A

The Mighty Avengers, Rich Thomas. This is a simplified summary of a comic arc, so it reads fairly blandly to me. But now I'll have an idea of what the people who read the comics are talking about. I found some resonances with the Civil War superhero movie I saw last week.

Take Away the A, Michael Eschoffier. A book based on an Electric Company game, with illustrations showing two words, the second one formed by removing a letter from the first, all marching through the alphabet. It's cute but not sock-removing. Fun for kids who like wordplay, and I can see teachers using it in a kindergarten to help kids get word-wise.

Bookmarks moved in several books:
Under a Graveyard Sky (Black Tide Rising, #1)The Flowers of AdonisLeft for Dead (Ali Reynolds, #7)Crux (Nexus, #2)Silver on the Road (The Devil's West, #1)The City's Son (The Skyscraper Throne, #1)Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Under a Graveyard Sky, John Ringo. Major battle in the spa room of the cruise ship. Makes me think about signing up for a massage this summer.

The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. The king of Sparta had a son while he was away. Funny how these things happen.

Left For Dead, J.A. Jance. My audio book for my Reading My Library Quest. The cop hero is getting framed while he fights for his life in the ER!

Crux, Ramez Naam. People worry about their choices.

Silver on the Road, Laura Anne Gilman. Our heroine isn't sure whether she's a hapless pawn or a budding adult.

The City's Son, Tom Pollock. Beth is obviously the coolest character. Her friend Pen may mean well, but she's an idiot.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, ed. Genevieve Tucholke. Definitely horror. And I'm definitely NOT a horror reader. So I'm going slowly.

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)Midnight Crossroad (Midnigh...The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)KenilworthReading and Learning to Read

A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George.
Awakening to the Sacred, Lama Surya Das.
Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris.
Emerald Atlas, John Stephens. The treasure room is found.
Kenilworth, Walter Scott.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca.

2016 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015:  26 out of 82. Reading the last SF for Young Adults.
  2. Reading My Library:  Left For Dead is on disc 4. Finished one, started another, grabbed the next pile from the shelf.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 24/51. The kid's body was in Ohio in Ready Player One. And Lemonade Mouth is set in Rhode Island. Left For Dead is an Arizona book, so I should stay on target in May.
  4. Full House Challenge: 25/25.  I set up the card again. 4/25 
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 90. 
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: Kidlit: 10/12. No change. But a waiting Cybils book will fill out the Holocaust spot.  Adult lit: 8/12. I've got some books out from the library that will fill some spots. I'll keep tracking the economic class of my characters -- Upper (6), middle (6), or lower (7). I seem to read about the rich and the poor.
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  16.  Sort of. I got the paper copy from the library, but remembered I had the book on my NOOK, and mostly read that.
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 16/20. No change. The next ones look hard.
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 10/12. I need a debut author in 2016, and an immigrant experience book. 
  10. Surprise Me Challenge:  I received the May book, and plan to slip it in between Cybils categories.
  11. Flash Bingo: Blackout! 
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 10/12. I'm stuck on horror and classics. Cybils to the rescue!