The biggest news of last week is that my nephew graduated from high school! I got to go -- he got four tickets and I made the cut. He was really nervous because he missed the rehearsal but he marched across the stage like a champ. Academic Success -- Achieved! We celebrated with a lunch at Red Robin and then a pile of gifts at home.
In smaller news, I had my call-back mammogram and then an ultrasound and managed to pass! Woot! I also went to visit my friend Linda in her senior living place. She has dementia and I'm pretty sure she doesn't remember me, but she was happy to see me anyway. I'm hoping we can start going to movies again next week, and so I took myself to the theater and saw Quiet Place II just to scope out procedures. I felt comfortable, especially since when I go right after lunch the theaters are almost empty.
I had my last elementary book club of the school year, but only one kid showed up. She was enthusiastic, so I guess that's a win. In an even bigger win for me, when I dropped by the school to deliver prizes to be quarantined and then given out to some of the kids, the librarian gave me a big box of strawberries from her garden. They are wonderful!
I got no exercise last week. I went on a few walks but never made it to the gym and some of my planned walks were canceled. Oh well. This is Monday, so a new week dawns!
Cooking son prepared a pasta dish with cauliflowers (it was also supposed to have chickpeas, but I forgot to order those. Who wants chickpeas in a pasta dish anyway?), and then a Thai curry that received many raves, especially from his cousin who is a bit of a picky eater. So I hope that encourages him to keep trying my suggestions. I have to say that I've broken one side of my sink (the garbage disposal side) and he resents working under these conditions.
I am currently reading 26 books, which seems slightly too many but I'm OK with it. One up from last week, but several books are almost done. So far I'm hitting my #bookaday goal of finishing a book a day.
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 go sign up. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers.
Dramacon Vol 2, Svetlana Chmakova. Cybils finalist.
Snapdragon, Kat Leyh. Cybils finalist.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill. For 4/5 grade book club.
Paladin's Sword, T. Kingfisher. I'm a patreon!
The Lost Scrolls: Fire, Nickelodeon. Avatar book from my shelves.
Three Shadows, Cyril Pedrosa. Cybils finalist.
Piranesi, Susanna Clarke. Sword & Laser pick. Also Hugo finalist.
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch, Julie Abe. 2020 Cybils Middle-grade Speculative Fiction finalist. Sorry I forgot the picture last week! This is a fun book with an engaging protagonist. Once I got over the idea that at twelve she moves on her own to a new town to demonstrate her magical skills (like how Pokemon kids just wander away from home) I enjoyed her dedication and innovations. She doesn't have much power, so she frequently has to come up with solutions that leverage what she can do into what needs to be done. The world feels almost Japanese, although I guess what I mean by that is that it reminded me of Pokemon shows (the snacks, the town structures, the independence accorded to child protagonists). The magic systems is neat, although the poems the girl uses are terrible and don't usually scan. I am going to head-canon that they are all translations. The world-building is not very logical but does support her story arc, and I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.
The Last Emperox, John Scalzi. For Tuesday book club and Hugo reading. This again has snarky banner, people being clever or cunning according to the natures, and fun twists along the way. It did some things I didn't expect, and some I didn't really like, and also managed to do what it wanted to fairly well. I'm a bit disgruntled because it showcased some other options that it wasn't interested in pursuing, and I was more interested in them than what the characters actually wanted to do. Oh well, maybe he'll go back to this world and do the other things, now that he's wrapped up the arcs for these people.
Murder at Veronica's Diner, J.D. Griffo. My meal companion. They did mention some good food which was fun, but the mystery stuff didn't really grab me. Most of their theories had giant holes, they connection with legality was intermittent, and I still have no idea of the purpose of the final heist. Also, do people really just take a private plane from New Jersey to Texas without wanting to go to Texas? Just as a lark? Because that was odd. Maybe this works better starting at the beginning; I didn't feel like I was missing information about any of the characters or their relationship, but maybe everything is a pay off for stuff carefully seeded in previous chapters. But I was glad it was set in New Jersey.
Dramacon Vol 2, Svetlana Chmakova. 2006 Cybils 13+ Graphic Novel finalist. I'm always pleased when I can start a series in the middle, and this one was fine to jump into. The changing relationships and connections and dreams were clear. I had more problem with what I think are manga style choices, because it's already hard for me to recognize characters on sight (which makes graphic novels hard) and when the book jumps into a more cartoony version for a few panels I tend to panic. But I made it through and now I want to know the rest of the story.
Snapdragon, Kat Leyh. 2020 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novel finalist. I never really warmed to the art, and found the loneliness of the main character a bit one note. Her interactions with the local witch somehow became less magic when the actual magic showed up, which seemed to lower the emotional stakes a lot. I wanted more complexity from the people, who were either good or bad, and didn't seem to have backstories of their own unless it impacted the main character. Ugh. I was probably in a bad mood when I read it.
Crystal Singer, Anne McCaffrey. Expectations matter! I was really worried that this would be awful, but it has aged much better than I feared. Killashandra feels like a new adult, although I think she is supposed to be in her mid-to-late twenties. But she's been a student in a singing program and therefore in a supportive, closed environment. When her planned career disappears, she is ready to a complete change. I liked her ambition and pride, as well as her willingness to accommodate the needs of her friends. I was still a bit shocked at how much she disliked the people at her off-planet assignment, but I also appreciated her sense of drama as she made a ceremony out of the installation. This reread was a fun trip back to much younger me.
The Lost Scrolls: Fire, Nickelodeon. I think the TV show Avatar was the first time a recommendation flowed from my kids to me, instead of me showing them the wonders of the world. It wasn't the last time, but I still have a special place in my heart for the show. This book retells some of the stories from the show, and I bet it's only good for people who already like the show, but I enjoyed the reminders of watching when my kids weren't even in elementary school yet.
Piranesi, Susanna Clarke. Sword & Laser pick. Also Hugo finalist. Lovely writing, which I could appreciate more in this much smaller book! It was deeply immersive, even as I as reader had a much greater understanding of what was going on than the speaker. Watching him follow clues and make connections could have been frustrating, but instead I was deeply involved in having him remain true to his current self even as many of his understandings were challenged. The final chapters were an expert examination of the nature of identity evan as they were a skillful tying of up plot strings. I'm looking forward to a discussion of this book on Monday (today!) night.
Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:
Uncompromising Honor 69/??, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial. Distracted by library audio books.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James. Ancient Sword and Laser pick. Carried it around a bit.
The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendelson. Hugo finalist. Didn't touch it.
The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton. Read some pages. It's my book to read while walking on a treadmill. Sadly, I have not gone to the gym at all this week.
The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum. Didn't touch it.
The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O'Brien. Didn't touch it.
An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole. Didn't touch it.
Seven Sisters, Lucinda Riley. The library brought it back, but I pushed for another week.
Sharks in the Time of Saviors, Kawai Strong Washburn. I carried it around, and found my place.
The Lost Orphan, Stacey Halls. I have about reconciled myself to the fact that this is historical fiction, not fantasy. I went in completely expecting fairies, and this is not that at all.
Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells. I think I'll listen to the audios. Just got Network Effect, but I have to finish Paladin of Souls first.
Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold. Continuing my audio reread of the World of the Five Gods series. I got to listen to a discussion of Curse of Chalion over the weekend that informed this.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Malinda Lo. Ice cream date!
The Whim of the Dragon, Pamela Dean. Read-aloud book. I'm enjoying this.
Murder Must Advertise, Dorothy L. Sayers. Read-aloud book. Another good one. I remember more of the plot, but hearing other people read it helps contextualize things I missed when I read it.
The Secrets of Star Whales, Rebecca Thorne. A gift from LibraryThing, and I'm trying to actually be timely here. Except I'm at the part where the protagonist is about to make a character-building mistake, and I don't want to see him do that.
Picture Books / Short Stories:
Donut Feed the Squirrels, Mika Song. 2020 Cybils Elementary Graphic Novel finalist. A fun tale of hungry squirrels and a beleaguered food truck donut maker. This would be fun to share read with a kid, or for fairly new readers to enjoy by themselves. I was a bit confused that one squirrel was named Belly, which is not a name I've seen before, but hey, squirrels. My favorite part was belatedly realizing the pun in the name -- they changed the "o in "DO NOT" to a "u." OK, I'm slow.
These books I'm barely reading; lately I use them bribes to get me to deal with the mail. Hmm. I should get back to that.
The Educated Child, William Bennett. Physical Education and other concerns beyond the academic. These guys are very suspicious of any trends away from competition.
Wool, Hugh Howey.
Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho.
Under the Eye of the Storm, John Hersey.
Dates From Hell, Kim Harrison & others. Bad dates are fun. Supernatural organizations are also fun.
Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Time to put it all together.
- Cybils 2020. Finished Eva, the Semi-Magical Witch. And Snapdragon and Donut Feed the Squirrels.
- Early Cybils: Read Dramacon Vol 2. I'm so happy that a volume 2 got nominated.
- KCLS 10 To Try: 8/10. I did get a recommendation from a librarian, but I'll probably read that with a book club this summer. Epistolary will be hard.
- Tacoma Extreme Reading Challenge. 39/55. No change/
- Reading My Library. Finished Veronica.
- Where Am I Reading 2021: 24/51 states -- picked up New Jersey. 11 Countries.
Future PlansI'm putting this at the end because I suspect it's complete fiction, but I feel I should attempt some structure.
I am reading:
- Book I own: Last Night at the Telegraph Club. Next: Educated Child
- Library Book: The Lost Orphan Next: something really short. I'm more likely to read the short one.
- Ebook I own: Paladin's Strength Up Next: Extraordinary Union
- Library Ebook: Girl Who Drank the Moon Next: Luminaries
- Book Club Book: Uprooted Up Next: Addie Larue
- Tuesday Book Club Book: Next: I need to finish The Wind Dark Sea
- Review Book: Secrets of Star Whales Next: Back Home
- Hugo Book: The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein. Next: Joanna Russ.
- Rereading: Uprooted
- Meal Companion: a romance set in Oklahoma
- Audio: Paladin of Souls Next: Network Effect