Thursday, January 16, 2020

Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder Challenge



I'm going to try Book Riot's Read Charder Challenge this year, although it's a pretty hefty one -- 24 books. On the other hand, you can use the same book for multiple challenge, so maybe I'll get lucky. And I like the concept of paying more attention to what you are reading, of incorporating mindfulness into my reading hobby. Obsession. Whatever you want to call it.

If I keep up with tweeting the books I read, I'll try to remember to use their hashtag #ReadHarder. That's a lot of letters, though. Also, I say this to remember it later, they have a link to suggestions for each of the tasks in case I need help finding something.


  1. Read a YA nonfiction book 
  2. Read a retelling of a classic of the canon, fairytale, or myth by an author of color 
  3. Read a mystery where the victim(s) is not a woman Bloodshot, Cherie Priest 1/11/20
  4. Read a graphic memoir 
  5. Read a book about a natural disaster I Survived the Eruption of Mount St Helens 1980, Lauren Tarshis 1/8/10
  6. Read a play by an author of color and/or queer author 
  7. Read a historical fiction novel not set in WWII 
  8. Read an audiobook of poetry 
  9. Read the LAST book in a series 
  10. Read a book that takes place in a rural setting 
  11. Read a debut novel by a queer author 
  12. Read a memoir by someone from a religious tradition (or lack of religious tradition) that is not your own 
  13. Read a food book about a cuisine you’ve never tried before 
  14. Read a romance starring a single parent 
  15. Read a book about climate change 
  16. Read a doorstopper (over 500 pages) published after 1950, written by a woman 
  17. Read a sci-fi/fantasy novella (under 120 pages) 
  18. Read a picture book with a human main character from a marginalized community 
  19. Read a book by or about a refugee 
  20. Read a middle grade book that doesn’t take place in the U.S. or the UK 
  21. Read a book with a main character or protagonist with a disability (fiction or non) 
  22. Read a horror book published by an indie press 
  23. Read an edition of a literary magazine (digital or physical) 
  24. Read a book in any genre by a Native, First Nations, or Indigenous author


Some of these are easy -- the picture book for example. The horror book will be hard, because horror is scary. And I think I'll just plan to get lucky with #3 and #14 -- I read a lot of mysteries and romance, so surely one of them will fit!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Goodbye, Second Son

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I'm spending the fresh year dodging bad weather and huddling at home. Of course, I keep my home unfashionably cold because I like layers and heavy blankets so my kids tell me I might as well be outside except that I'm dryer. Hey, 60 degrees is a fine indoor temperature, except at night when I like things a bit cooler.

I had fun with the kids at book club, although they had slacked off at doing the reading. I brought my cookie-making son as a show and tell, although he's getting old enough not to be as interesting. I think high school is the peak age of coolness to a fourth grader. Older than that and you are just an adult. Boring.

We have all the Christmas decorations stacked on the coffee table because we are missing one giant outdoor ball. Maybe it blew away? But whenever we move to put the boxes in the garage we get distracted by going outside to beat the bushes one more time. That's the dangers of evergreen landscaping around my house -- decorations get swallowed by the plants. And the weather reports call for SNOW next week. The WSU boy left on Sunday for a lengthy and slow drive back to campus through intermittently open passes and snowy roads.

My currently reading shelf descended even further to 21, and I have hopes of getting it to 20, which is one page. Of these at least seven are books I'm although I'm not really reading, I refuse to give up on. They are paused, not abandoned. Honest.

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 so I'll sign up there. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers. I clung onto my kidlit credentials with that book for the elementary school.

Started: 

I Survived the Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 1980 (I Survived, #14)Archangel's War (Guild Hunter, #12)


I Survived the Eruption of Mount St Helens 1980, Lauren Tarshis. For my elementary school book club.

Archangel's War, Nalini Singh. Catching up on a series. I think I skipped a few books here...


Completed:

Once a Spy (Rogues Redeemed, #4)CantorasI Survived the Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 1980 (I Survived, #14)
Bloodshot (Cheshire Red Reports, #1)Sweep with Me (Innkeeper Chronicles, #5)

Once a Spy, Mary Jo Putney. Yes, she learns how to have sex, and they live happily ever after, well, they do once they defeat Napoleon (Wellington and his forces play a contributing role). It does exactly what it says on the tin and I was very happy with this book, but I'm not sure who I would recommend it to.

Cantoras, Carolina de Robertis. The Torches and Pitchforks book club pick for December. This was a lovely book and I'm so glad I finished it after the meeting. I liked having the hints about the plot from the discussion. It was a great book on many levels -- I liked the prose, the structure, the imagery, and the peek into the history of Uruguay during their dictatorship and for lesbians during and after it. I bet my mom would love it.

 I Survived the Eruption of Mount St Helens 1980, Lauren Tarshis. Those lazy kids hadn't read it! So I tried to give them some hints since it's one of the Battle of the Book books, and then we talked about volcanoes and how close they are, Seattle as an exotic destination, and boy books/girl books and the assumptions we make when we recommend things.

Bloodshot, Cherie Priest. Lots of action drove me quickly through to the end. I liked how ambiguous the main character was -- it was in first person so the reader is invited to sympathize with her, and her enemies are clearly very very bad, but when you pull back a bit Rayleen isn't really worth cheering for either. There are a lot of murders there! But she's interesting, which is what I want in a vampire heist mystery story.

Sweep With Me, Ilona Andrews. Wow, I found this just in time. It's completed and up for sale now. I really liked the Orro subplot, especially the happy ending. And I really want to be Calpernia in my next life. I mean, I wouldn't be good at the planet ruling and mayhem, but the retirement in a B&B that has those innkeepers? Perfect!


Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Son of the Black Sword (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, #1)Tender MorselsBook Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and ReasonOne Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers, #2)
The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)The Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #2)Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
ConCom: Conflict Communication A New Paradigm in Conscious CommunicationMasques (Sianim, #1)


Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia. 77/? Baen's podcast serial. OK, it's back!

Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan. 4/10 discs. I am reading this one track at a time. Sadly the tracks are about 45 seconds long, which seems a bit excessively short.

Book Lust, Nancy Pearl. Finished the "C" section. And I really want to read some of the companion sets she recommends.

One Good Dragon Deserves Another, Rachel Aaron. Oh oh. There have been some reversals. I have to trust in Bob.

The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang. Last month's Sword and Laser pick. Hey, the library gave it back!

Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan. The library called this home.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke. I have the audio and switch back and forth between it and the paperback. So far I'm up to 1.75 speed but I need to get up to 2.0 since this is a very long book.

ConCom: Conflict Communication, Rory Miller. Oops, forgot to finish this.

Masques, Patricia Briggs. The main characters have met, and this time I know that they are peers. Well, one is currently a wolf.



Picture Books / Short Stories:

"The Seven Nipples of Molly Kitchen," D.J. Butler. Baen Free Radio Hour podcast offered this in place of the currently serialized novel. I liked the alternate America with magic and compassionate but dependable practitioners.


Palate Cleansers

These books I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading. Of course, since I was off having Christmas in Utah, they were untouched.

A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Educated Child: A Parents Guide from Preschool Through Eighth GradeCookieGive All to Love (Sanguinet Saga, #11)Tell the Wolves I'm HomeReading and Learning to Read

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George.

The Educated Child, William Bennett. The importance of history and geography, and teaching kids to be patriotic.

Cookie, Jacqueline Wilson.

Give All to Love, Patricia Veryan. Is love in the air? For the side characters, I mean.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Basal readers and vocabulary.

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2017. Nothing. I ordered some up, though.
  2. Cybils 2018. Nothing.
  3. Cybils 2019. Nothing.
  4. Reading My Library. Nothing. I rechecked out my next book.
  5. Ten to Try. Of course I'm doing this again. Starting out with a bang -- I've got 3/10 already!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

2020 Ten to Try Challenge

KCLS Challenge: Ten To Try

Progress:  3/10


Once again my fabulous library system is hosting their Ten to Try Challenge where you try to read books fitting ten categories, and if you succeed, you win happiness beyond compare. Also you get a button. Finally, it's an excuse to create a list on the library home page. Lists! Buttons! You see how easy it is for the library to give me happiness.

(The List Link won't go live for a while -- you need at least three items on a list to make it public.)

Anyway, this years challenge categories are:


  1. Read a Retelling of a Fairytale or Myth : Finding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen 1/3/20 
  2. Read a Book That Teaches You a New Skill 
  3. Read a Book About a Journey 
  4. Read a Book with a Friend 
  5. Read a Book About a Person You’d Like to Meet 
  6. Read a Book About Nature I Survived the Eruption of Mount St Helens 1980, Lauren Tarshis 1/8/20
  7. Read a Book About Music or a Musician 
  8. Read a Book About Current Events 
  9. Read a Book Recommended by KCLS Staff 
  10. Read a Book by an author whose gender is different from yours Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, Tony Cliff 1/2/20

Monday, January 6, 2020

Merry Little Christmas! Down With the Decorations

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I hope everyone had a Happy New Year! I stayed in. I planned to go to bed early so stayed up until I could text my mom (several time zones over) a Happy New Year but then I ended up reading late anyway. So a typical celebration for me! My sons come to me for Christmas so they go off to their dad for New Year; it's a bigger holiday for Greeks anyway.

My triple book club night was Saturday, and I only skipped half of one book, which isn't bad seeing as I didn't start reading them until New Years Day. It's a fun crowd, although not everyone stays for all three books -- first Sword and Laser, then Torches and Pitchforks, and finally Vaginal Fantasy. I'm not sure how they came up with that order, but I do all of them and it makes it worth the extra drive.

I ordered some Nabisco Famous chocolate wafers and my kids came back home to make our traditional Icebox cake Little Christmas. I'm not sure how I fobbed off this tradition on them but it was completely worthwhile. We brought it over to share at family dinner on Sunday, so my sister's family and my brother could partake. Hmm, I wonder if there is any leftovers in the fridge -- that might make a good blogging snack...

In general it's been a very low energy year so far. It's hard to get motivated. But we did manage to take down Christmas. Except as I write this I realize I forgot about the door wreath. Excuse me a moment...

My currently reading shelf has slowly moved down to 23, although some of those I'm just kidding myself about. My New Years resolution is to only check out two library books a week, so that should help there.

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 so I'll sign up there. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers

Started: 

Capsized!: The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland DisasterCaleb and KitHogfather (Discworld, #20)Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (Delilah Dirk, #1)
CantorasFinding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in VerseSweep with Me (Innkeeper Chronicles, #5)

Capsized! The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster, Patricia Sutton. Cybils 2018 nonfiction book.

Caleb and Kit, Beth Vrabel. Cybils 2017 middle grade fiction.

Hogfather, Terry Pratchett. The December Sword and Laser pick.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, Tony Cliff. The local Vaginal Fantasy pick for December.  

Cantoras, Carolina de Robertis. The Torches and Pitchforks book club pick for December.

Finding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen. The other December pick for our Vaginal Fantasy book club.

Sweep With Me, Ilona Andrews. They are posting another story live! I will catch up and then sulk.


Completed:

Brave FaceCapsized!: The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland DisasterCaleb and KitLord Darcy Investigates (Lord Darcy, #3)
Hogfather (Discworld, #20)Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (Delilah Dirk, #1)Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse

Brave Face, Shaun Hutchinson. Cybils nonfiction longlist. I didn't really complete this, but I've skipped around to read most of it. When my kids are older I'll be more willing to sink into a book about a depressed teen. I was impressed with the honesty of this memoir -- the author had to really go back to his memories of being an unhappy teen who was often stupid with his unhappiness. Unhappy people tend to be unlikable, but it's hard to realize when one is driving people away with actions rather than with the parts of oneself (in this case, his discomfort with acknowledging his gayness) that is causing some of the unhappiness. It makes for a vicious circle that can lead to despair.


Capsized! The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster, Patricia Sutton. Cybils 2018 nonfiction book. Strong book that features many (although by no means most!) of the casualties and survivors of the horrific event where a shipful of picnic goers (families, young people, workers) fell into the frigid river and many died. Written for junior high kids, it clearly traces how it happened, who was involved, and even the aftershocks for the victims, families, and companies. A worthy finalist.

Caleb and Kit, Beth Vrabel. Cybils 2018 middle grade fiction. A solid book about a boy maturing, going from a rather self-centered kid to a more compassionate and responsible youth who is able to both extend and accept love and friendship. Caleb and his family are struggling to deal with his growing need for independence, complicated by the extra demands of his medical condition which is is starting to feel defines him to an unacceptable degree. But his efforts to separate himself both puts him in danger and alienates him from the people who care about him until he learns to balance different desires better. An emotionally realistic book with lots of details that kids appreciate, from the annoyance of being an over-age day camper to the guilty pleasure of imaginative play after being "too old" for it.

Lord Darcy Investigates, Randall Garrett. Very genre book, but a fun set of stories. It's mysteries set in an alternate history, where the existence of magic made recent events go a bit differently, so everyone is very Regency (? my historicals are fuzzy) with lots of British Empire classism and titles thrown about and the monarchy is very much in power. Science is less advanced because magic does a lot of that, and I had no intention of solving the puzzles because maybe magic did it, so it was relaxing and I still felt clever when I figured stuff out (Garrett obviously intended them to be solvable, but he's not the boss of me). I particularly liked the homage to Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express which was really grumpy about it.

Hogfather, Terry Pratchett. A fun and seasonal read, with Pratchett's humor and heart in strong evidence. Susan and Death are the prizes, but there are also fun bits with the Unseen University and their Hex computer, an appearance of a few Guards, and a tasty restaurant scene. Probably not the best introduction to Discworld for some of our members, but as they read on audio book they could just enjoy the accents when things seemed a bit unwieldy (the professors especially seemed a bit jammed in).

CybilsLogo2013-Web-ButtonDelilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, Tony Cliff. A fun and fast reread, although I admit I was usually completely lost in the action scenes and I managed to confuse the two main characters several times. I'm terrible at graphic novels! But the art was lovely and painterly and both heroes charming in very different ways and I do mean to read the next two in the series.

Finding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen. I enjoyed this as a vivid and lush story -- it's a novel in verse and although the individual poems never really struck a chord with me the story as a whole was powerful and evocative. It felt like enhanced prose, not just artificially short lines on a page. The discussion was interesting as well -- the other people thought it was a more literal story which I hadn't considered, while my mutterings about liminal spaces and the mythic nature of the forest made some people also revisit their conceptions. That's part of what I go to book clubs for -- to trade missed interpretations.

Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Son of the Black Sword (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, #1)Tender MorselsBook Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason
One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers, #2)The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)The Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #2)Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
ConCom: Conflict Communication A New Paradigm in Conscious CommunicationOnce a Spy (Rogues Redeemed, #4)Bloodshot (Cheshire Red Reports, #1)Masques (Sianim, #1)


Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia. 77/? Baen's podcast serial. I haven't listened to this part yet since they switched off to a short story and I spent my time digging up the old one because I could have sworn that wasn't an ending. It wasn't an ending. Now I can go enjoy the short story.

Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan. 4/10 discs. I am reading this one track at a time. Sadly the tracks are about 45 seconds long, which seems a bit excessively short. When it's the annoying dwarf that's fine but I like hearing about the girls.

Book Lust, Nancy Pearl. I am being very stern and not letting myself put books on my TBR list just because they sound good. I have to actually want to read them in the next five years.

One Good Dragon Deserves Another, Rachel Aaron. Ha! Take that, mean people who want to hurt Justin. And his friends.

The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang. Last month's Sword and Laser pick. Waiting to recover it.

Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan. The library called this home.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke. I am finally ready to start the audio and it will be due in a few days. Sigh.

ConCom: Conflict Communication, Rory Miller. Oops, forgot to finish this. Moved it back to my bedside table so I don't forget again.

Once a Spy, Mary Jo Putney. If this were fanfiction, I would describe it as crack. She has mad harem skillz, but fears sex. He is endless patient although he appreciates those skills. Also, they get all the aristo titles.

Bloodshot, Cherie Priest. The library wanted the paperback back (I had just started!) so I got the ebook and I'm enjoying it a lot.

Masques, Patricia Briggs. It will be fun rereading it knowing how young the guy is this time. I won't spend so much time being shocked.



Picture Books / Short Stories:

None.


Palate Cleansers

These books I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading. Of course, since I was off having Christmas in Utah, they were untouched.

A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Educated Child: A Parents Guide from Preschool Through Eighth GradeCookieGive All to Love (Sanguinet Saga, #11)Tell the Wolves I'm HomeReading and Learning to Read

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George. Gideon was raised to be an unpleasant musician, and is only now finding out how far that went. He is regretful but still unpleasant. As are everyone else in this book.

The Educated Child, William Bennett.

Cookie, Jacqueline Wilson.

Give All to Love, Patricia Veryan.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Oh of course -- Basal readers are those story collections that are designed to boost up your reading! I liked reading about the ones from long ago.

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2017. I read a middle grade fiction!
  2. Cybils 2018.  I read a middle grade nonfiction!
  3. Cybils 2019. OK, I needed a break. Then I'll start. Finished junior and senior high nonfiction.
  4. Reading My Library. Nothing. I rechecked out my next book.
  5. Ten to Try. Of course I'm doing this again.