Monday, September 29, 2014

Birthday Time

2a
This week my oldest son turned 16. The day itself passed almost unnoticed around here, since he spent it with his dad. Also, instead of a birthday party I throw a Foam Sword party and invite anyone who we think might enjoy it, and don't really mention the birthday part since some people have never seen us before. That went off to great success last week.

Also, my usual gift is memberships to things, but he's not really into museums. I"ll have to decide if I want to keep my cards to the Pacific Science Center, but I'm not going to blame it on him if I do. So instead I was going to give him books, and a lot of his favorite authors kindly put out new books this month, but I am greedy and got them all as soon as they hit the shelves so he read them all already. (Unmade, Exo, Monstrous Affections). And I was supposed to make his cake last Thursday, but managed to completely forget so now I'll make it tomorrow (brain permitting).

In spite of my inability to make the day special, I have to agree that he's pretty special himself. He's really turning into a wonderful man -- I look up at him with delight and gratitude. He's responsible. He's hard working. He's handsome. He's funny. He's gentle. And generous. He's smart. He's gosh durned nice to have around the house. And he likes to read my books, which makes me feel less silly about bringing home so many from the library.

I'm off to sign up to see what everyone else is reading lately at bookjourney's and Teach Mentor Texts lists. Here's what I finished this week and last week:
  • The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee. Alt pick from last month's Vaginal Fantasy.
  • Ultra, David Carroll. Cybils middle grade fiction. I think this was the winner, actually.
  • The Golden Leopard, Lynn Kerstan. Cute romance with secret Ninjas lurking about.
  • Growing Up Brave, Donna B. Pincus. How I probably gave my kid an anxiety problem. Oops.
  • There Is No Dog, Meg Rosoff. Odd book with flooding and a very strange supreme being.
  • Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang. Cybils YA graphic novel. Powerful retelling of the Boxer rebellion, in two volumes.
What am I currently reading? Less than I was last week, but still too much. I've got 22 books in my currently-reading sack.  Most (not quite all) of my currently reading list is now on  GOODREADS.
  • A Free Man of Color, Barbara Hambly. NOOK. A solid sense of setting in this historical book set in New Orleans.
  • Imprisoned, Martin W. Sandler. Cybils book about Japanese interment during World War II. I'm discovering things I didn't know -- like that Canada also interned their citizens.
  • Codex Born, Jim C. Hines. Second book in a series where magicians get their power from books, so it's hard to see how it can possibly go wrong. I liked the first one, so I bought this one.
  • A Web of Air, Philip Reeve. Sequel to a Cybils book from last year, and my son says it's pretty good. So far we've had a tidal wave, cyberpunk stage lighting, and a budding Orville Wright, so I'm happy.
  • Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean. From my shelves.
  • Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood, Nathan Hale. This will probably be a downer.
  • A Matter for Men, David Gerrold. From my shelves.
  • Anna of Byzantium, Tracy Barett. No change.
  • Magic City: Recent Spells, Paula Guran, ed. Soon this will come back to me. p.201
  • Always, Abigail, Nancy J. Cavanaugh. No change. 
  • About That Night, Norah McClintock.  No change. 
  • Rogue, Michael Z. Williamson. I don't really pay attention to their techniques, but I like the action.
  • Protector, C.J. Cherryh. Kid with a hangover, Bren with a dinner plan.
  • Wildflower, Alecia Whitaker. No change. p. 51 16%
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt. No change.
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth. No change.  
  • Yonder Comes the Other End of Time, Suzette Elgin. No change. 
  • Shards of Time, Lynn Flewelling. No change.
  • Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty. No change. 
  • Tinker, Wen Spencer. I do enjoy this book. Tink is married but hasn't figured it out yet. 
  • Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. No change.
  • The Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan. Percy and his man-purse. Hee hee hee.
Reading intermittently, and deliberately slowly. These never change much:
  • The Jury, Stephen Adler. Now an example of a bad jury. 
  • Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vacca. Skills-based approaches. 
  • Nerds, Michael Buckley. Our hero discovers that the kids he bullied don't like him.
  • Out to Canaan, Jan Karon. The wife doesn't want to hear about a move.
  • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. Bringing idiots along to a delicate negotiation is not a good idea.
What's up next?  Still starting a book every other day, until I get this library backlog under control. I think I'll have to only start one non-library book a week:

Monday: The Search For WondLa (Sword & Laser Kids October selection)
Tuesday: skip
Wednesday: Unmade (Sarah Rees Brennan's newest). This is mine!
Thursday:  skip
Friday: Template (Cybils YA graphic novel)
Saturday:  skip
Sunday:  Mrs Pollifax and the Lion Killer (I'm working my way through the series)

NOOK books:  I'll probably start  Blood and Betrayal on Tuesday. If I finish A Free Man of Color I'll move on to The Governess Affair. 

2014 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils: 59/77. Finished Middle Grade Fiction and powering through YA Graphic Novels.
  2. Where Am I Reading? 32/51. Things looking grim. My Connecticut book is pushed back a week.
  3. Alphabetically Inclined: 19/26. No change. So many U's!
  4. What's In a Name?: 7/7. Still have to review everything. Ha!
  5. Book Bingo: Fifteen boxes into square 2.
  6. Gentle Spectrum Challenge complete!.
  7. Small Fry Safari: 8/8. All done! Except for the reviewing...
  8. PoC Speculative Fiction 19/5: One more!
  9. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  I am stalled.
  10. Reading My Library: Library temporarily closed, so on hiatus.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Complete Collapse


Remember how last week I was complaining that I may have checked out too many books, because of long hold periods all ending at the same time and other fascinating excuses? Last week was nothing.

This week I staggered out of the library with nine new books, all thick and lovely looking, and I have no idea when I'll make time to read them. Oops. I'm way over my limit of 46 books, and I think that's even including the book that I may have lost (I could have SWORN I turned it in -- I do miss the robot-automated returns complete with receipt) and the books that I got out for my sons but I don't to read. Much. Although some of those look good too...

It also is the week Sarah Rees Brennan's new book Unmade came out, so I bought that and gave it to my older son to give myself breathing room, and he brought it back the next day saying it was great and now it smiles at me next to the pile of new library books... ACK! And I bought the new Wen Spencer, but that doesn't count as much because I've already read the ARC. And I'd like to say I'm very proud of Barnes and Noble's for having Unmade, because sometimes they don't carry this series and that is very foolish of them.

I bought:

Coming September 23, 2014Wood Sprites

And from my library I got:
The Search for WondLaGrave MercyFangirlThe Interrogation of Ashala WolfA Free Man of Color
The Search for WondLa, Tony Diterlizzi. October's pick for the Sword and Lasers Kids group, of which I am Chief Laser, and this is a laser book.

Grave Mercy, Robin LaFevers. This may have been a mistake; I think I meant to get the sequel Dark Triumph which is a Cybils book. On the good side, I'll give this to my teen and then he'll be willing to read the next. He's a stickler for that sort of thing.

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell. I've been waiting to read this so long I can't remember why I'm reading it.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, Ambelin Kwaymullina. Recommend by Jim Hines.

A Free Man of Color, Barbara Hambly. NOOK. Recommended by Rachel Manija.

UzumakiUzumakiConjuredPantomimeThe Brontë Sisters

All Cybils books:

Uzumaki 1 & 2, Junji Ito. A Cybils graphic novel. I'm waiting on #3 since the combined book got nominated but my library got them seperately.

Conjured, Sarah Beth Durst. A Cybils YA book.
Pantomime, Laura Lam. Also a Cybils YA book.
The Bronte Sisters, Catherine Reef. Cybils nonfiction book.


badge-4So I still have 51 books out on my library card.  I have to keep my library card under my age or I ban myself from getting new books. Except I cheated this week, obviously. But really -- a new Sarah Rees Brennan! But clearly I need to go on a retreat or find a 48 hour reading challenge or something.

I'll go sign in to Library Loot which is at The Captive Reader  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-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Family Reunion

2a
This is a two-week post since I was out of town last Monday. We want to Georgia for my father's memorial, and it was a wonderful time. I reconnected with many of my East Coast relatives, and more importantly we talked and told stories and I know think of my Dad as he was before Parkinson's took so much of him away.

This week has been a resettling into routine, with me hosting my monthly book club on Friday, followed on Saturday with our annual Foam Sword party, which was a lot of fun. A good range of ages, everyone was a good sport, and the heat didn't descend until the afternoon. Even the pizza came on time, so success! Book club was also good, with a lively discussion of the book, plus good friends, and the surprise addition of a delicious cake. So I'm in good mood to start the autumn.

I'm off to sign up to see what everyone else is reading lately at bookjourney's and Teach Mentor Texts lists. Here's what I finished this week and last week:
  • The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Stars: Steadfast, Jack Campbell. I can't recommend the writing style, but I like the characters and am enjoying the plot.
  • Into the Forest, Jean Hegman. This was our Friday night book club pick. No one really enjoyed it, but it made for a good discussion.
  • The Fault in Our Stars, John Green. Now I can go see the movie!
  • Affliction, Laurel K Hamilton. These always make me laugh. Nothing like trying to find a work/life balance between a zombie apocalypse and your twelve or so lovers.
And last week, a lot of which was spent traveling to my father's memorial,  I finished:
  • Whedonistas! A Celebration of the Worlds of Josh Whedon by the Women Who Love Them, Ed. Lynne M. Thomas. I like reading essays.
  • Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang. For Sword & Laser book club. Very good.
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. Finished is a strong word, as I just go back to the start. This will probably be my phone book for a long time.
  • The Fourteenth Goldfish, Jennifer Holm. Science Fiction for kids!
  • He, She, and It, Marge Piercy. Vaginal Fantasies pick last month. Slow start but strong middle and finish.
  • The 14 Fibs of Gregory K., Greg Pincus. Wow, this kid has a mean family. Cybils.
  • War Brothers: The Graphic Novel, Sharon McKay. Very painful but strong book. Cybils.
What am I currently reading? In good news, I finished more books than I started. I'm still reading a couple of dozen books, though, which is a bit excessive even for me. Most (not quite all) of my currently reading list is now on  GOODREADS.
  • The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee. For last month's Vaginal Fantasies pick.
  • There Is No Dog, Meg Rosoff. YA. So far God is not very impressive.
  • Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean. From my shelves.
  • Nathan Hale's Hazadous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood, Nathan Hale. This will probably be a downer.
  • A Matter for Men, David Gerrold. From my shelves.
  • Ultra, David Carroll.  I like the framing story -- the run, the interview, the memories.
  • Anna of Byzantium, Tracy Barett. p.23. This is the story of a strong woman failing in her dubious goal -- I can tell I will have to read it slowly.
  • Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang. Boys are dumb around girls.
  • Growing Up Brave, Donna Pincus.  How to not have an anxious child.
  • Magic City: Recent Spells, Paula Guran, ed. Soon this will come back to me. p.201
  • Always, Abigail, Nancy J. Cavanaugh. No change. p. 51
  • About That Night, Norah McClintock.  No change. p. 53.
  • Rogue, Michael Z. Williamson. I don't always understand their undercover techniques.
  • Protector, C.J. Cherryh.  No change. p. 67
  • Wildflower, Alecia Whitaker. No change. p. 51 16%
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt. No change.
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth. No change.  p.61
  • Yonder Comes the Other End of Time, Suzette Elgin. No change. p.113
  • Shards of Time, Lynn Flewelling. No change. p.35
  • Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty. No change. p.107
  • Tinker, Wen Spencer.  No change. p.310
  • The Golden Leopard, Lynn Kerstan. No change. p. 234.
  • Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. No change. p. 260
  • The Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan. No change. p.256
Reading intermittently, and deliberately slowly. These never change much:
  • The Jury, Stephen Adler.  No change.  p. 36.
  • Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vacca. Top down versus bottom-up reading theories. p.31.
  • Nerds, Michael Buckley. Life is hard for villains. Also, there is a secret department in the school. p.54.
  • Out to Canaan, Jan Karon. The dog gets hurt but doesn't die. p.276.
  • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. No change. p. 755.
What's up next?  Ideally I would only start two books a week until my currently-pile approaches normal, but I'm still frantically playing catch-up with challenges and a groaning library pile. Every other day will have to do:

Monday: (skip)
Tuesday: A Web of Air (sequel to a book I liked)
Wednesday: (skip)
Thursday:  Codex Born (from my shelves, another sequel)
Friday: (skip)
Saturday:  Imprisoned, Cybils pick
Sunday: (skip)

NOOK books: I've got some more library books waiting, starting with Trial By Desire. Also, I bought Blood and Betrayal last spring and would really like to read it.

2014 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils: 57/77. War Brothers and 14 Fibs are my two for this fortnight. I'm still behind pace.
  2. Where Am I Reading? 32/51. Added one more. Behind pace.
  3. Alphabetically Inclined: 19/26. No change. Still need an E, I, J,  V, X, Y, and Z.
  4. What's In a Name?: 7/7. Still have to review everything. Ha!
  5. Book Bingo: Fifteen boxes into square 2.
  6. Gentle Spectrum Challenge: Got all the colors. Need a punny book.
  7. Small Fry Safari: 8/8. All done! Except for the reviewing...
  8. PoC Speculative Fiction 18/5: Affliction is a rather weak entry, I think, but Anita Blake is proud of her Hispanic heritage.
  9. Big Books: 1. Time's up so I'll have to be content with my singleton pass.
  10. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  I am stalled.
  11. Reading My Library: Library temporarily closed, so on hiatus.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cybils Middle Grade Speculative Fiction Finalists

Cybils2013Small
This is probably my favorite category, with the imagination and adventure of speculative fiction, but without the angst and romance drama of YA. These kids are here to save the world, or themselves, or their families, and they don't spend a lot of time on their hair or wondering whether their marriage is doomed. There's a nice variety among the selections, some alternate worlds, some set in a different version of this world with magic inserted, and some set in this world and the kids discover some private magic that's all their own.

JinxJinx, Sage Blackwood.  I really enjoyed this story of a boy growing up in an enchanted forest who doesn't know how he is different from other people. To make it more fun, the reader doesn't know if he is different -- we don't know what regular people can do in his forest. I had a great sense of perspective -- what is right and what is wrong is filtered through the people seeing the events, and it can be hard to see through to what needs to be done. Jinx has a interesting habit of underestimating himself, and of being unestimated by both the reader and the other characters. I immediately tracked down the sequel and I can't wait for more from Blackwood.

The Screaming StaircaseLockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase, Jonathan Stroud. My older son is a huge Bartimeus fan, so it wasn't hard to talk him into trying this one with me. We both had fun with it, enough to pick it for our family book club which ensured my younger son read it as well. We liked the alternate history, with the setting hinting at Victorian times but then surprising the reader with more modern technology. Finding ghosts changed things, which makes sense. We also liked the kid-run business, and the different professional relationship among the company. I have the sequel on hold at the library.

RoseRose, Holly Webb. This had more depth and nuance than the cover promised. (My cover was much more pink and young looking. I think my boys would have liked it, especially the plucky underclass servant vs spoiled but less capable snooty apprentice dynamic. Unfortunately, they never picked it. I think looked too juvenile, although the pink didn't help.

Sidekicked
Sidekicked, John David Anderson. I actually won an ARC for this in a 48 Hour Reading Challenge.  The plot was nice and twisty, but I was uncomfortable with the main character. He seemed to feel that his female friend owed him her affections because he was so nice, and he was always trying to be nice so that she would want to date him. Which is actually kind of creepy. I'm probably projecting stuff that was going on elsewhere onto this book a bit, but it left a bit of a bad taste.
The Rithmatist

The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson. I liked the chalk adventures and the puzzle about how chalk magicians get chosen. For some reason I've never read anything by Sanderson before but now I want to seek out more of his stuff. I bet my son would have enjoyed this one but he didn't notice it in time and the library called it home.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man SwampThe True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Kathi Appelt. Even though this book gave me a state for my state challenge, I couldn't really warm up to the quaint characters and the plot sliding back and forth between the various people and the animals and the creatures of the swamp. It was clear all along that all the pieces would come together and I didn't have a lot of surprises. I tried to get my boys to read this but they didn't bite.

The Water CastleThe Water Castle, Megan Frazer Blakemore. I really like this genre of kids in a regular life dealing with issues and then finding pieces of magic that they can use to help fix things. I wish the magic had come in a bit earlier, although the jumps into historical people helped a bit. I found it a bit too grim for complete enjoyment -- the family situation is dire, the main character's social life is awful, and the family tries to pull together but frequently lets each other down.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Possible Backsliding


I've had some books on hold for months now, since sometimes the library orders them months before they come out. This occasionally results in a surprise dividend of books, such as yesterday when I went to pick up two hold books and came home with a bag full.

And last week (which I think I forgot to post?) I also found a lot of books on my hold shelf. I keep promising myself that I'm bringing my library stack down to manageable proportions, but somehow it hasn't happened yet. At least it occasionally drives me to finish a book.

I also bought a few books, which I'll add in at the bottom, and mostly I'm using as my excuse my oldest son's birthday later this month. I shall regret handing all these books to him when his actual day rolls around and I've got nothing but a stack of receipts to give him.

The Whispering SkullPleasure UnboundMonstrous Affections"The President Has Been Shot!"A Free Man of Color

The Whispering Skull, Jonathan Stroud. We all enjoyed the first of this series.
Pleasure Unbound, Larissa Ione. This is an old Vaginal Fantasy pick that I skipped.
Monstrous Affections. Short stories by authors I like.
The President Has Been Shot, James Swanson. A Cybils pick. I'm stockpiling again.
A Free Man of Color, Barbara Hambly. Recommended by Rachel Manija.

Also, my son requested that I request a few books. I'll probably read the Butler but I still haven't read the first Lynch book, and second son is still reading it.
Red Seas Under Red SkiesBlack Butler

Last week on my way to the airport I picked up:
Waiting for NormalThe New Jim CrowMinion
ImprisonedThe Boy on the Wooden BoxMrs. Pollifax and the Lion Killer (Mrs. Pollifax Series #12)Black butler

At least that last book is a DVD, so it doesn't have to fit in my library book shelf, which is looking a bit crowded right now.

Let's Explore Diabetes With OwlsAfter I'm GoneVeronica MarsTrial by Desire

Well, that last one is for my NOOK, so doesn't swell the book shelf much.

I've also acquired a few books. We ransacked a Georgia Barnes & Nobles until they unearthed the copy of Steven Gould's Exo that the computer insisted they had. The mail (courtesy of paperbackswap) brought me a stack of Norah McClintock books. I've been a fan of hers since the Dooley books.

Double checking my library I see that we've recently acquired a bunch of these as ebooks, but I like having physical books to gloat over. McClintock is exotic and Canadian, you know.

And I may have bought Monstrous Affections for my NOOK, just for the Sarah Rees Brennan's complete story of Elliott, Serene, and Luke. As a special bonus, it includes many other fine stories from authors I am sure I will appreciate. Because waiting three days for the library is hard.

badge-4So I still have 47 books out on my library card.  I have to keep my library card under my age or I ban myself from getting new books. And Unmade is hovering just a week away. Looks like I'll make an extra trip to the (outside book drop for the) library as soon as I finish something!

I'll go sign in to 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-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cybils Fiction Picture Books

Cybils2013SmallI have forced all my kids and some relatives into reading the Cybils picture books. Our committee:

Me: Parent, book lover.
X: 15 year old boy, book lover
P: 12 year old boy, book liker. Willing to read picture books with me fairly often. Enjoys reading to his 2 year old sister when she behaves herself.
N: 11 year old boy, emerging reader. Book acceptor.


Sophie's SquashOpen This Little BookMr. Tiger Goes Wild

  • Sophie's SquashPat Miller. I loved this one -- it's my favorite. P & N liked it. X panned it as weird, which amuses me since he carried around a bruised pumpkin as a buddy for several days in his misspent youth.
  • Open This Little Book, Jessie Klausmeier. Fun for me, P, & N. X thought it squandered a great premise on a flimsy story.
  • Mr Tiger Goes Wild, Peter Brown. N's shocked look when the NUDITY happened was priceless. X's third favorite. Appreciated by me & P.
JourneyIf You Want to See A WhaleCount the Monkeys
  • Journey, Aaron Becker. X's clear winner -- "a thinking man's Harold the Purple Crayon". N, P, and I also liked it. This is the one I urge friends to buy -- it's a clear parent's favorite that kids will like.
  • If You Want To See a Whale, Julie Fogliano. X found it dull. P & I liked it, as did N.
  • Count the MonkeysMac Barnett.  N's declared victor ("they are all good, but this is best"). X's second choice, and his first pick as a read-aloud. P also approved of the concept and art.

The Bear's Song

  • The Bear's Song, Benjamin Chaud. Our library eventually processed this one. Everyone liked it, although the illustrations were not as expansive as our favorites. We liked the Where's Waldo aspect but were frustrated a bit at the cub's nondistinctiveness.
And the winner was: Mr Tiger Goes Wild. Well, it was no one's favorite, but everyone liked it. I shall enjoy telling N that the book he considered borderline pornography was the judge's choice.