Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Book Club Books For May

I'm a member of several bookclubs, as well as a follower of some internet groups that share a book each month. This means that a lot of my reading is dictated by these clubs. I aim to read at least 50 pages a day for my book club books, which means that I finish books slowly enough that I remember them well enough to discuss them at the meetings,  Obviously I give priority to book clubs I actually attend or host; the internet ones can get done when I have spare time. And if they pick popular or new books, library wait lists may mean I don't get to them for several months after the rest of the crowd.

Of course, I've just found local meet-up for the internet clubs, so oops...

I'm going to look at what I'm reading or planning to read because of the clubs I subscribe to:

Friday Friends Club

This is what I think of when I say "I'm in a book club;" it's the one I host most often and hate to miss. We pick books because we want to read them, and sometimes we are wrong about that but usually not. Carrie Baughcum

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingShiksa Goddess

Quiet, Susan Caid. We figure most of us fall on the introverted side of the line, so we wanted to read a book celebrating this. And although we aren't taking it too seriously, we talked a bit about The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and decided to try that. I've finished both of these, so I'm in good shape for May. Currently our June book is supposed to be Shiksa Goddess (Wendy Wasserstein), so I can start that whenever I feel like it. I'll wait until after the meeting, because we sometimes shake things up at the last minute.

Tuesday Night Movie Book Club.
William Shakespeare's Star ...The City's Son (The Skyscra...
This is another excuse to hang out with friends, virtually. We all read the same book, then start up a skype session and watch a movie, chatting over the movie about whatever strikes our fancy, including the book.

Star Wars: Verily a New Hope,  by Ian Doescher is the pick this week and next, accompanied by a movie chosen because the description claimed "it's not Shakespeare" -- and true, The Lady of Burlesque was not, and next week by an actual play, probably the Macbeth with Sean Connery in each, chosen for its short running time. I've got the next book,  The City's Son, by Tom Pollock, on my tablet but I like to read my sections on the weekend before the meeting.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - kimberlykv

Talbot Hill Elementary Book Club
The One and Only IvanThis was a compromise the kids and I worked out, now that Battle of the Books is over and we can read whatever we want. Interestingly, I've only listened to the audio of The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, and I've enjoyed seeing how differently I react to text rather than voice. The rhythm seems different, because I can see all the white space around the short chapters, especially the ones that are brutally short. I don't know the next book yet, although I think we won't have one -- it will be a Summer Party where the kids get to set up most of my summer reading list.

Vaginal Fantasy:

Shades of Milk and Honey (G...The Magpie Lord (A Charm of...Silver on the Road by Laura Anne GilmanClean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal and The Magpie Lord, K.J. Charles were the books for April, and I've just got hold of them. So those are late. On the other hand, I'm very excited about the May books -- The Silver on the Road by Laura Gilman has been recommended by several people with compatible tastes, and I've already read Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews; in fact I suggested it to my Friday book club and it was our last pick! So I feel like I got even more than my usual money's worth from reading that one. Also my son likes it as well. And it's on the shelves at my local library, so I can start it soon. As I've just found a local meet up for this online club, I'm happy to see that I'll probably finish the book on time so I can go and have fun.

Sword & Laser
AuroraThe Fifth Season (The Broke...A Darker Shade of Magic (Sh...All the Birds in the SkyCity of Stairs (The Divine ...Annihilation (Southern Reac...

Ok, I'm a bit behind with this online book club, although I did track down their monthly meetup in Seattle last week since I had read one of the two books for April. I'm hoping to finish the May book for the next meeting, which is Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson. I've read other books by him, so I expect I'll like this one. I loved and recommended to a friend (who also loved) The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemison, which was the April book I did finish, although the library just got me the other book for April (it was a rare two-book month),  A Darker Shade of Magic, by Victoria Schwab. I'll read that when I finish the May books. Or maybe I'll read the book from even earlier that I also just got --  All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders. Or I can read the books from my shelves that appeared on earlier months picks --  City of Stairs,  Robert Jackson Bennett or  Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer.

I think I need to dedicate a shelf to book club books so I can keep them in order by reading priorities and deadlines. Hmm.

Monday, May 2, 2016


It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
This week I feel into the hole of a little game on my phone (Avenger's Academy) and had little time for anything else. Well, I got Groot, so I win, but never again, I hope. I've even made a deal with my younger son to trade phones if I find myself tempted by their next "special event."

In between frantically tapping on my phone, I read a teensy bit, so here's my report.

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 which does the same thing for kidlit, since I read a little of that as well.

This week I finished five books:

Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess, #1)Havoc (Dred Chronicles, #2)A Spool of Blue ThreadBone GapQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Harriet the Invincible, Ursula Vernon. The men in my Tuesday book club admitted that this was a fun read, and we talked a bit about expectations. One guy said his kids weren't really into fairy tales so he wasn't sure how many jokes they would miss. I talked about my son enjoying a pastiche of Tale of Two Cities without having read the original, but then he's loved everything Sarah Rees Brennan has written so it's not surprising that Tell the Wind and Fire worked for him.

Havoc, by Ann Aguirre. Another fine entry from one of my favorite SF writers. I like how her characters deal with their own imperfections without being boring about it. In this case Dred and Jael have a lot of baggage, but they are willing to work on themselves. And of course, willing to fight through the decaying corridors of a dying space station against the mercenaries and other convicts all conspiring to kill them.

A Spool of Blue Thread, Anne Tyler. This was a fascinating weaving of the history and lives of a Baltimore family, which I completely enjoyed until the final revelations about the founding generation, which creeped me out and spoilt some of the enjoyment. It's still a well written story, but no longer one I recommend for a good time. A Reading My Library Quest pick.

Bone Gap, Laura Ruby. The next Cybils finalist on my list. I started out distrusting the magic realism but ended up loving it and how Finn's issues tie in with the theme of knowing oneself and one's family.

* Quiet, Susan Cain. My next book-club-with-friends pick. It's a look at how what it means to be introverted and how to make sure that is a strength and not a liability, both for yourself, your peers and and subordinates, and your children.

* 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 more books:

Ready Player OneYear Of Living DangerouslyWilliam Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope (William Shakespeare's Star Wars, #4)Wool (Wool, #1)

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline. Both my kids read this ages ago (last fall?) and tell me I'll like it.

The Year of Living Dangerously, Christopher Koch. This is for my new challenge "Surprise Me" where I randomly pick a book from my goodread's to-read list and try to read it. This was April's book, which I will finish sometime in May. Hey, it's time to pick the May book.

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, Ian Doescher. This is my next Tuesday Book Club/Movie night pick. I only read through the first two acts, as it will take a while for everyone to find the book.

Wool, Hugh Howey. This was recommended to me years ago, so I bought a copy. Time to try to actually read it!

Bookmarks moved in several books. This seems like a more manageable set to me:
Under a Graveyard Sky (Black Tide Rising, #1)CruxBlake: or; The Huts of AmericaSisterlandUnnatural Causes (Adam Dalgliesh, #3)The Flowers of Adonis

Under a Graveyard Sky, John Ringo. Family bonding through zombie massacres. It's quite touching, really.

Crux, Ramez Naam. Things happen.

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. Our hero wanders through all the slave states spreading his secret message.

Sisterland, Curtis Sittenfeld. My next Reading My Library pick. Still not caring about these characters.

Unnatural Causes, P.D. James. My next audio book for my Reading My Library Quest. Gossip and social nicities help solve the crime.

The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. The army has gone off to war, but things will not go well. Lots of foreshadowing from our narrator to tell us that. Also, the Athenian governing council may be controlled by idiots.

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. The trick of Gideon writing to his therapist is a little precious.
Awakening to the Sacred, Lama Surya Das. Prayers for all occasions and temperments.
Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris. Rescuing a friend. Or picking her up after she rescues herself.
Emerald Atlas, John Stephens. Negotiations with the dwarves is complicated.
Kenilworth, Walter Scott. Our hero's minion is apparently a master alchemist.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca. How to ask questions and teach children to ask questions that improve reading comprehension.

2016 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015:  22 out of 82. Knocked off another YA Fantasy.
  2. Reading My Library:  Reading Sisterland. Not enjoying it. Finished A Spool of Blue Thread.  About to start Large Print nonfiction. Started disc 5 of 8 of Unnatural Causes.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 22/50.  A Spool of Blue Thread is set in Maryland.  Bone Gap was Illinois, but I already had that.
  4. Full House Challenge: 22/25.   I set up the card again.
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 77. I do love me a good public library.
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: Kidlit: 10/12. No change. Adult lit: 8/12. Although there were a lot of side characters who were LGBT in my reading, very few main characters were (in April). In May I'll track the economic class of my characters -- Upper, middle, or lower.
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  15! Halfway through the next goal.
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 16/20. No change.
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 10/12. The Anne Tyler was a Booker Prize finalist! And Quiet counts as psychology. Boo yah!
  10. Surprise Me Challenge: My April book arrived from the library: The Year of Living Dangerously. Now I just have to read it. I ordered the May book.
  11. Flash Bingo: Seven Bingos!
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 10/12. I'm stuck on horror and classics. I'm not sure I'll recognize horror -- how gross is something before it counts?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Power Picks!

My nephew and I are working our way through all the Power Ranger shows on netflix, and sneaking in an extra episode of Power Rangers: Wild Force on Thursday made me late for the library. A few days ago we finished the season of Power Rangers: Time Force so we were feeling rather pumped and wanted to get a good start on the new season. I liked Time Force because although they had to have a boy for the Red Ranger position (very essentialist, these Power Rangers) it was clear that the Pink Ranger was the boss. I still think the love interest plot was squicky, but my nephew assures me that it was romantic, and anyone, the heart loves as the heart loves. Even if it's the guy who looks just like your recently dead fiance and is actually his 1000-year ancestor.

Anyway, this meant I didn't have time to browse the shelves, but the hold shelf had a full load so perhaps it's just as well!

My loot from the hold shelf:
AuroraLemonade MouthTwin SpicaShades of Milk and Honey

Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson. This is the May pick for the online book club/podcast Sword and Laser. Their theme was SPACE!

Lemonade Mouth, Mark Peter Hughes. I started this earlier but the library called it home. Trying again. Re-loot for the win!

Twin Spica 8, Kou Yaginuma.  Continuing my trip with these hopeful astronauts in training. I think there are 12, so I still have a ways to go.

Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal. My other online book club/ video show is reading this as their alt pick for April. I still haven't found the main pick; I may have to buy it.

I also knew they had the copy of my next elementary school book club pick, so I grabbed it from the shelves:

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate. I've listened to this on audio but this is the first time with pages for me. I remember crying over it, which was an issue as I was driving at the time. I had to pause the story for a few minutes to get a hold of myself, which aggravated the listening passengers. Safety First, people!

And I should probably mention the ebooks which have dropped into my tablet:

William Shakespeare's Star WarsThe City's Son

Verily: A New Hope, Ian Doescher. The Star Wars/Shakespeare mash-up that my Tuesday night book/movie club is reading next Tuesday. Because it's Shakespeare week or death day or birthday or something, right? I've read it before, and I think my kid owns a copy, but I'm not sure where he put it.
I've currently got things out from the library.  I'd like to keep that number under thirty; it includes the stockpiled Cybils and Library Quest books, as well as a handful for the rest of the family. Also, I haven't really mastered returning e-books early, especially ones I read on my tablet in Kindle format. So I can ignore one or two of those numbers.

City's Son, Tom Pollock. The book we'll read after the Doescher. I know nothing about it.

That's a total of 29 things out, which isn't too bad. 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.

Unnatural Causes by P.D. James is the current audio. It's only 8 discs and I'm on #4. This is a terrible vacation for Dagliesh -- the worst of police work and no authority to make it fun.

I'm still reading Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld, but I'm not really enjoying it and don't really care what happens to the characters. So after pushing ahead a few pages I let myself skip onto Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread which I'm enjoying more. Or I was until the icky part with the guy finding out that his high school girl friend (already scandalously young) is actually just starting middle school. Oops.