Monday, October 16, 2017

Fun Books, Fun People

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I had a good week, both in books and in people. My monthly Friday night bookclub met over pizza and Think of England, which nobody hated (a relief, since I had suggested it).  Now I have to reread The Fifth Season.

We (a bunch of the book club) also went to the annual Romance Writers extravaganza in Bellevue, where romance writers take a break from their professional convention to give away books and other goodies for two hours to anyone who shows up. It's a lot of fun and I now have far too many books to read.

To show it's not all about the books, I also took a trip to the zoo where I saw all the predators. I was on my own, so I was free to set my own pace, see what I liked, and read when I wanted. (OK, it's all about the books. Of course I brought one with me to the zoo -- why else do they have benches there?)

I continued finishing more books than I started. Currently Reading is steady at 22 books already, and my goal is to get back to 20 (the size of my Goodreads page). That's about where I like to be.

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 sign up. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed, and as I finished Legend I sneak in. I'll check in with either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers for their version.

This week I started:

Think of England (Think of England, #1)The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1)An Ancient Peace (Peacekeeper, #1; Confederation, #6)A Peace Divided (Peacekeeper, #2)

Think of England, K. J. Charles. This was my Friday book club pick. A reread for me, as I recommended it.

The Sumage Solution, G.L. Carriger. I like her historical paranormals, so I want to try this modern one.

An Ancient Peace, Tanya Huff. Luckily for me she picked this series back up.

A Peace Divided, Tanya Huff. I seem to have caught up with Huff.

I finished:

Beginnings: Worlds of Honor 6Legend (Legend, #1)Think of England (Think of England, #1)The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1)An Ancient Peace (Peacekeeper, #1; Confederation, #6)

Beginnings, David Weber. The first one seemed very anvilicious with the Earth government's disdain for science or people not toeing the official line, although I suspect they meant to aim at a previous administration. But I had more fun with the stories set later in the time line and away from Earth, especially when I could recognize some characters. It was nice seeing some middle class people instead of the VIPs whom Honor normally deals with.

Legend, Marie Lu. OK, I had fun with the teens taking on the evil government and being super competent. I had less patience when they started falling in love and smooching, because it made them less competent. Where is Katniss to try to put a sense of proportion into people?

Think of England, K. J. Charles. Short and sweet. I still found the characters endearing, and the situations Charles pushed them into had me laughing out loud several times. The final HEA was a little tough but seemed earned.

The Sumage Solution, G. L. Carriger. Not quite as much fun as the historicals -- the two men seemed overly devoted to snark, so that it was sometimes difficult to tell who was talking, which was annoying since they were supposed to be so different. But it was still a fast and easy read, so I'll probably pick up the rest if I stumble across new ones.

An Ancient Peace, Tanya Huff. I like the continuity -- there are large changes taking place in this space empire, but we see it from the point of view of a confident non-com (sorta retired) who doesn't know how to walk away from a problem. Or leave anyone under her large umbrella of responsibility behind.

I started four and finished five. That's a good direction for my currently-reading list!

Short Stories:

 I discovered that K J Charles has a small collection of stories at her web page kjcharleswriter.com. They are mostly either views of scenes from a different perspective or a chance to catch up on characters a little bit after the ending of a series, so I gobbled down the ones matching the characters I knew. None really stand on their own, but I enjoyed "Song for a Viking, " "A Confidential Problem," "A Feast of Stephen" and "A Private Miscellany."





Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from SexThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsHostage (The Change, #2)
Someplace to Be Flying (Newford, #8)Virtues of War (Virtues of War, #1)Giant Pumpkin SuiteHeliconia PrimaveraLittle Fuzzy

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Shan is having problems rebooting the trading empire that Liad has taken for granted for generations.

Harmful to Minors, Judith Levine. American law seems to treat sexual behavior or interest by minors monolithically, despite the difference between a five, twelve, and seventeen year old's developmental level.

The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown. The freshman rowers are looking very promising.

Hostage, Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown. There are an awful lot of moody young people to keep track of. It would help if I read this faster.

Someplace to Be Fying, Charles de Lint. I want to get out of the flashback about the girl child convincing the ancient fairy to marry her, because it's creepy. More author creepy than character creepy, since it's all her call.

Virtues of War, Bennett Coles. I prefer the action scenes that don't involve torturing, executing, or even just threatening civilians. It confuses me about whom I am supposed to root for.

The Giant Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. Bad times for everyone.

Helliconia Spring, Brian Aldiss. The Sword and Laser book for last month, and it's pretty slow going.

Little Fuzzy, H. Beam Piper. I'm enjoying the narrator, and the feeling of nostalgia for the days of high balls and cigarettes. Which I was too young to notice when they were actually happening.

These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.

KenilworthThe Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenReading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

The Emerald Atlas, John Stephens.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016!  36/107-ish. My new pile of short books should give progress.
  2. Reading My Library: Working on the audio book Little Fuzzy.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 33/51. No surprise states, but I did pick up some possibles at the Romance Night.

Monday, October 9, 2017

BrickCon Lego Time!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Last weekend was BrickCon, which is a Lego convention put on to display my brother's nifty Ball Contraptions. Oh, there are a few hundred other people also displaying things (even other Ball Contraptions), but I like to think he's the sweet kernel at the heart of it all. Because he's my brother, not because he's high up in the running of the con or anything, to be clear.

As is traditional, we went out for Greek food before checking out all the cool Bricks. I will try to find a picture; I think I took a couple.

It was also Homecoming at the local high school, so my niece got a chance to show how stunning she can be (wow). Her date was fairly good looking as well. Meanwhile my two sons united at the older one's college for Family Weekend and I have confirmation that 1) Alexander is still healthy and happy at school and 2) he still likes Oreos, as the month supply I sent him at the end of September was completely devoured.

By the way, CYBIL nominations are still open. Did you see any great kids books (picture books through YA) this year? Head on over! I rushed to add my suggestions, although I don't read much new stuff nowadays. And apparently some of the stuff I like doesn't count, although I'm not sure. One was a picture book that was reissued with all new illustrations, so maybe that didn't count.

I continued finishing more books than I started.  Currently Reading is steady at 21 books already, and my goal is to get back to 20 (the size of my Goodreads page). That's about where I like to be.

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 sign up. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed, and with all the pictures books I read I'll check in with either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers for their version.

This week I started:
Valor's Trial (Confederation, #4)Beginnings: Worlds of Honor 6The Truth of Valor (Confederation, #5)Heliconia PrimaveraLittle Fuzzy

Valor's Trial, Tanya Huff. I really like this space marine series.

Beginnings, David Weber. I like the Honorverse, and I grabbed this somewhere -- maybe the last Foolscap?

The Truth of Valor, Tanya Huff. I wasn't kidding.

Helliconia Spring, Brian Aldiss. The Sword and Laser book for last month -- the library had a backlog.

Little Fuzzy, H. Beam Piper. I've read this several times, but I thought I'd try the audio book when I saw it on the next shelf in my Reading My Library Quest. I kinda prefer rereads for car audio.

I only finished the books I'm inhaling like candy corn. The others hang on for next week.

I finished:

Valor's Trial (Confederation, #4)Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence, #1)The Truth of Valor (Confederation, #5)Unbound (Magic Ex Libris, #3)Captive Prince (Captive Prince, #1)

Valor's Trial, Tanya Huff. Torin gets taken prisoner. It doesn't take.

Three Parts Dead, Max Gladstone. Turns out I had another week. But I'm glad I finished -- the momentum really picked up and it was easier to keep all the parts together.

The Truth of Valor, Tanya Huff. Torin quits soldiering. She doesn't find it amusing when soldiering doesn't quit on her. And now the library is denying me the next book!

Unbound, Jim Hines. I like these, but they run a little bit long. Also I never even tried to visualize the poem-puzzle thing, so I felt a bit like a dunce. I have the next one, so when I find it I'll read it. But in addition to book-shenanigans, I need the Michigan setting for this one, so I'm pleased to read it.

Captive Prince, C.S. Pacat. This is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Two hot guys who are obviously fated angst all over the place while toying with fantasy elements, with a master/slave dynamic thrown in for extra fun. Floggings, consent issues (not between protagonists, or any "good" people), etc. But it's smoothly written and I got it for free.

I started 5 and finished 5. I was briefly at one page for my currently-reading shelf, but then I realized I forgot to add my new audio book.

Picture books:
The Great Antonio: TOON Level 2Cuauhtemoc: Shapes/Formas (English and Spanish Edition)The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on TrialFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear
Dinosaur Dance!The Cookie Fiasco (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!, #1)Snail and Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends (Snail & Worm, #1)Rabbit and Robot and Ribbit
Dragons Love Tacos 2: The SequelIt Takes a Village

The Great Antonio, Elise Gravel. Cybils Early Reader finalist. I'm still confused by categories -- isn't this nonfiction? But meant to be read directly by the child? It was an interesting biography, with clear definitions of what is known and what is speculation, up to the author's somewhat twee musings about aliens. Good either as an early reader or a shared picture book.

Cuauhtomec: Shapes/Forms, Patty Rodriguez. Cybils board book finalist. The muted colors kept things strangely calm, and I thought a few of the shapes were rather hidden for the infant audience.

The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial, Susan E. Goodman. Cybils nonfiction finalist. It's a great look at an event I didn't know about -- the Boston segregation cases in the 1800s that started the fight against segregated schools. After details about this case (the girl lost), the book traces the forward and backward progress of integration and social justice, giving background both on history and how historians work.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear, Lindsay Mattick. I think this was a Cybils nonfiction finalist. I'm still confused on the difference between a picture book and a nonfiction book -- the frame of this as a story told to a child (which is true -- the author is descended from the characters) confused me. But I liked reading a mix of fact and fantasy to my kids, and this works well as a bedtime book or as the history of Winnie the Pooh, actual bear and namesake of the famous stuffed animal.

Dinosaur Dance, Sandra Boyton. Cybils board book finalist. Standard delight Boyton words and pictures, although I hoping a few more rhymes. This would be fun to read with a baby on your lap, or for the baby to page through on their own.

The Cookie Fiasco, Dan Santat. Cybils Easy Reader finalist. Good characters, clear voices for shared reading, and conflict resolution through neurosis and math -- this book was made to please me!

Snail and Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends, Tina Kugler. Cybils Easy Reader finalist. Fun pictures and quirky friendship makes for an enticing read, but somehow it didn't catch fire with me. Maybe I need to share it with a beginning reader. I did love snail's eyeballs.

Rabbit and Robot and Ribbit, Cece Bell. Cybils Easy Reader finalist. A bit too didactic for me, with Rabbit and even Ribbit learning a lesson about squabbling when they almost destroy their mutual friend Robot.

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel, Adam Rubin. Good humor, good callbacks, and even the teenager who "doesn't like books" accidentally smiled when he caught a glimpse of the alternate universe diaper party.

It Takes a Village, Hillary Rodhan Clinton. Oddly, Goodreads doesn't seem to differentiate well between this picture book and the earlier book of either essays or proposals. I only read the picture book, which was delightful mainly because the story in the pictures by Marlee Frazee perfectly complemented the ideas of community in the text.

Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from SexThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsHostage (The Change, #2)
Someplace to Be Flying (Newford, #8)Virtues of War (Virtues of War, #1)Legend (Legend, #1)Giant Pumpkin Suite

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. The kid is safe, but still doomed to nightmares, which is not good if she has psychic superpowers (as most of her family does). Meanwhile it's time to worry about the new AI that only has one deterrent for lawbreakers -- DEATH. Which is a bit extreme for jaywalkers. I'm also wondering if I skipped another book, or just forgot a lot.

Harmful to Minors, Judith Levine. The ridiculousness of abstinence training goes back about twenty years. It's still around today.

The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown. Some people manage to keep things together. Not everybody dies.

Hostage, Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown. Back to the main town, we see that many adolescents are insecure, which seems unfair when they already have to deal with an apocalyptic wasteland, mutations, prejudice against mutants, and kidnappings by rival mutant powers.

Someplace to Be Fying, Charles de Lint. In the flashback, we see a grooming situation. I think we are supposed to root for it to work out -- that the kid will grow up to fall in love with the narrator?

Virtues of War, Bennett Coles. And back to our war criminal, who is worried she isn't tough enough.

Legend, Marie Lu. Prison life is tough, especially when the regime is run by torturing evil thugs.

The Giant Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. Time for all of the foreshadowed bad events to happen. This seems a bit much.

These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.

KenilworthThe Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenReading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

The Emerald Atlas, John Stephens.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016!   35/107-ish. Ordering more short books from the library.
  2. Reading My Library:  Started the audio book Little Fuzzy.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 33/51. Picked up an unexpected Michigan.