Monday, May 25, 2020

Dip a Toe In the World -- Nope, Too Cold

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Well, I'm in Stage One, and my county apparently isn't likely to qualify for Stage Two for a while, but we are gently opening up a little bit even in our Stage Oneness. So I've been living a wild life! La vida loca!

I drove my son to a dentist appointment (it was the first day dentists could re-open, and he was lucky enough to have scheduled his appointment for then). I waited in a parking lot until he was done. Wow! I know, you are all envious. He said they took his temperature on the way in, and the dentist wore a facemask as well as a face shield. And a beard. 

As if that wasn't enough excitement, I had my regular mammogram on Thursday. No lines, I'm happy to say. And I got the elevator all to myself going up and down again. Oh, and parking was free! This pandemic just saved me $2. And the next day, I took my car in to be serviced. I decided to go for a walk instead of waiting in the lounge, and the mechanic told me about a nature trail only a few blocks away. I've been going there for about ten years and never thought of going to the park, which as I found out this week is lovely and has many birds along the river.

I also had a fun weekend. A science fiction convention called Balticon (because it's in Baltimore) went online, so I signed up and spent a lot of the weekend listening to fun panels on books and science and writing techniques, with occasional ventures into concerts and other spectator things. That was fun and a good rehearsal for World Con this summer.

And of course, I had my group Minecraft game/book club Tuesday night, and then a Family Chat on Sunday where we checked in with people in California, Utah, and Texas.

My currently reading is 17, which is low for me. It includes four books I'm not really actively reading but plan to get back to, five books that I read a few pages in each week, and two audio books that are going equally slowly, one because I can only listen in the car and the other because it's a serial that comes in bits each Friday. That leaves only six books that I'm really concentrating on, which is not as crazy as you think. One is an audio on my phone, one is for my Tuesday book club, two are ebooks (one library, one mine), one is a library paper book, and one is from my unread shelves. 

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

All the Pieces Fit (Hilo, #6)Fantastic Mr. FoxThirteen Reasons WhyThe Ballad of Huck & Miguel

HiLo 6: All the Pieces Fit, Judd Winick. After reading 1-5 last summer, it's time to see how this ends!

The Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl. For my elementary school book club, which is going to ZOOM!

13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher. This was an emergency book on my TBR list that I keep in my bag. Thank goodness, because I somehow managed to leave my NOOK behind when I had my car serviced.

The Ballad of Huck and Miguel, Tim DeRoche. My next RML book. 


Completed

Hero Code (Star Kingdom #3)Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellTell the Wolves I'm HomeOn a Sunbeam
Fantastic Mr. FoxRediscover CatholicismWinter Sisters (Mary Sutter, #2)All the Pieces Fit (Hilo, #6)


Hero Code, Lindsay Buroker. Back home, the characters have to work to fit back into society. Well, to escape prison, really. Cosmir and the pirate have to work together, and everyone gets to fight giant robots. It's a lot of fun and I want the rest.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke. Well, I finished! And I'm glad I read it. I didn't always enjoy reading it -- I felt it was very long for what it did, and the print in my book was very tiny. I suspect if I had read this when I first got it this would not have been such an issue for me; as it was I listened to most of it on audio which makes me cranky. The ending was great as it pulled all the pieces together and then backed away again. The final scene between Strange and his wife was perfection. If Clarke ever writes another book I will read it electronically so I can make the print big.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt. This was a pitch perfect book of a young teen girl, who makes bad decisions with absolute sincerity, always aware that she is probably a figure of mockery to all around her, which may be occasionally true but usually is masking a deeper fear of the real truth -- no one notices her at all. It also brings back the hysteria and cruelty that the early years of the AIDS crisis brought. I was given this book on an airplane by a seatmate who finished it and highly recommended it, and I see why. Too bad I'm not likely to go on a plane sometime soon so I can also pass it on.

On a Sunbeam, Tillie Walden. Cybils 2018 YA Graphic Novel finalist. This was rather wasted on me. I did like the illustrations; there were surreal planets and spaceships, but the plot didn't really work on a science fiction level and my old problem with face recognition came back. This is ridiculous because the cast is diverse, but I couldn't tell anyone apart in many of the scenes. Or worse, in the flashbacks I can objectively say that the characters were clearly drawn younger, but while reading it I couldn't tell; I would have to stop and pull myself out to carefully examine chin lines or something. So it wasn't fun. However, anyone with basic competence in reading comics would almost certainly not have these problems and could enjoy the story.

The Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl. We're going to try the elementary book club in remote ZOOM format on Tuesday. I don't know if anyone will show up, but my son is making cookies (which I guess I'll eat in front of the kids) and I read the book. It's a quick read with the ugly baddies and our oppressed but successful goodies. I'll ask the kids if it worked, if they saw the movie, and which farmer was the WORST. And if they are into it, I'll ask if they could retell the story so the farmers were the good guys. 

Rediscover Catholicism, Matthew Kelly. This book really expresses how deep a love of Catholicism can be and how the Church can help someone live a good and moral life. It doesn't address belief at all, and also doesn't address some of the issues I have with the Church, or how different the more vocal people are from the reverence Kelly exemplifies. But it does make me more interested in maybe looking in my local church more to see if there is something there for me. The timing is awkward of course; our churches haven't reopened yet. That's a good sign, actually -- it means that they don't think Pro-Life only applies to fetuses. 

Winter Sisters, Robin Oliveira. This is a historical book about family; good families are defined by love, and the family members will move mountains for each other. But there is also the dark version of that; if someone treats family as a power game, where family means the people they have absolute control over with no sense of responsibility, then the bonds are broken. It's very woman-centered; the book is very aware of the injustice of the social system and how easily men accept that since it benefits them. But each character, male and female, is treated as an individual. I'm sad that our book club never met (this was supposed to be March's choice) but I'm glad I read this. Now I guess I'll hope to read June's book, but I think July is more likely. If we are lucky.

HiLo 6: All the Pieces Fit, Judd Winick. I raced through the first five last summer while visiting friends, and was very miffed to find the last one not available. But now I forgive my nibling because I found it on my own. There was sacrifice and redemption; I love how Winick has his young characters be forgiving and empathic; that echos how kids really are in my experience. There was loss and tears, but also love and friendship. The mom reacted very well and I liked how the community came together to save the planet. And I'm delighted that there will be more books about these characters.


Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Tender MorselsThe Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #2)Uncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington, #14)Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle, #1)Magician: Apprentice (The Riftwar Saga, #1)

Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan. 6/10 discs. I finished a disc!

Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan. I got the audio back! No one believed me but I still considered this an active read. 

Uncompromising Honor, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial, parts 13-14. Things got blown up!

Witchmark, C.L. Polk. For my Tuesday book club. Except it turns out that this was from Tor.com (they give away a free book every month) right before everyone else joined in the download fun. So I'm still reading it, but more on a backburner as we've moved to Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw.

Magician: Apprentice, Raymond Feist. Sword and Laser pick. This is definitely old-school -- I can clearly see the heavy reliance on Tolkien and also the lack of thought about stereotypes and worldbuilding. The female characters suffer as a result, but in general there is a heavy reliance on tropes for side characters. Of course, I think this is one of the books that established those tropes, so perhaps it seemed fresher when it came out.


Picture Books / Short Stories:

The Poky Little Puppy

The Poky Little Puppy, Janette Sebring Lowrey. I found this under a bookcase. It's a bit late for my boys (in college now) but it was cute to revisit and when I can I'll donate it so more kids can enjoy it. I remember enjoying the didactic nature of the ending, which is tremendous fun while reading aloud.
  

Palate Cleansers

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

The Educated Child: A Parents Guide from Preschool Through Eighth GradeCookieGive All to Love (Sanguinet Saga, #11)Wool (Wool, #1)Reading and Learning to Read


The Educated Child, William Bennett. 

Cookie, Jacqueline Wilson. They are setting up a new life.

Give All to Love, Patricia Veryan. 

Wool, Hugh Howey. Conflict in the tower.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Finished up basal readers.

Reading Challenges
  1. May Asian Heritage Month: Three books, and calendar is almost full.
  2. Cybils TBR Challenge: #CybilsReaddown: Count now at 15! 
  3. Cybils 2017. Nothing. 
  4. Cybils 2018. Finished On a Sunbeam. 
  5. Cybils 2019.  I requested the early chapter books from the library.
  6. Reading My Library. I started The Ballad of Huck and Miguel. But I'm in no hurry because I can't get the next book until the libraries reopen.
  7. Ten to Try. At 9/10. I now have my KCLS staff recommendation on hold. And my musician book is lame. 
  8. Where Am I Reading: 17/51 states. 13 Countries. Nothing new. 
  9. Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. 17/24. Six left:  #2 (retelling by PoC author), 6 (play by PoC or queer author), 13 (food book about a new to me cuisine), 15 (climate change), 17 (sci-fi novella), 23 (literary magazine), and 24 (Indigenous author). 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Same Same

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?Knock knock.

(Who's there?)

Stella.

(Stella who?)

Stella 'nother week at home!

Washington, and more particularly King County, is still in Stage One of reopening (although Stage 2 is looking close!). So it's been another week of staying home, with my car leaving the garage only twice -- once to mail back an old router and once to walk in a park and then get donuts. 

I'm incredibly lucky that this has actually been rather pleasant for me. I've started walking a lot, and Alexander has started often walking with me, lured by my Pokemon Go game and his far superior game play. I'm actually in better shape than I was at the beginning; I'm eating more healthily and may have actually lost weight. I still get most of my book clubs in, and those were my favorite forms of socializing. I joke that I've even learned a foreign language, but really I just made it through Duolingo Greek, which is one of their shorter courses. I'm now trying to read some of the baby books left over from my kids' babyhood, and I can confidently say I do not actually speak or read Greek.

College semesters are officially over for my boys, and they aren't particularly interested in rushing out to find summer jobs, at least until we know that the pandemic has really settled down. So they are home and being mostly good housemates. We each take over one big job and then help out in general. My jobs are the biggest, but it's my house, and I'm slowly pushing the stuff I like least out onto their backs. So lawn care is not my problem, and now cooking isn't either -- my younger son decided that if I'd do the meal planning he'd take over actually cooking as one of his roles. Woot! So far I've made him make Thai chicken curry and Mexican lasagna.

I've hung out online with my regular book club/gaming group on Tuesdays (we're currently back to Minecraft and we read the four Murderbot stories by Martha Wells. Thanks Tor.com for the gift!) The library had an interesting professor tell me (and some other folks) about crows and ravens. I organized an expanded family Zoom session on Sunday, which went pretty well except for one Aunt whose audio took a vacation. And I met up with a real person on Saturday for a social distanced walk in a park, complete with masks. Then I celebrated Krispy Kreme's last BeSweet Saturday by picking up two dozen donuts for me and my nice neighbor.

My currently reading is currently 19, which seems a lot but is low for me. It also includes twelve books I claim to be reading but have no intention of finishing anytime soon. I'll have to concentrate on some library ebooks I carelessly checked out for a while; unlike regular library books nowadays, these will have to go back to the library fairly soon.

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 which I only qualify for on the strength of my Greek book and my one Cybils read. I'll sign up at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers.

Started
Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4)Magician: Apprentice (The Riftwar Saga, #1)Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle, #1)Hero Code (Star Kingdom #3)

Exit Strategy, Martha Wells. Murderbot #4. For my Tuesday book club.

Magician: Apprentice, Raymond Feist. Sword and Laser pick.

Witchmark, C.L. Polk. For my Tuesday book club.

Hero Code, Lindsay Buroker. Fun author.


Completed

The Great AloneRogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3)Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4)Ship of Ruin (Star Kingdom #2)The Witches Are Coming

The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah. (spoilers) Ugh. I was really enjoying this book -- the complex emotions, the descriptions that made Alaska seem beautiful even to timid little me, the revisiting of my youth -- I was only a little bit younger than Leni and grew up among the same historical event. And then we hit the end, where the author makes everyone suffer a lot, and worst of all, a last twist, where Leni ignores all advice and confesses to a pointless crime. As it turns out, this doesn't matter at all to anyone (or the plot) so the only effect was to make her seem like an idiot. I'm not sure why it was so important that the reader not respect her. It's rather spoiled the book for me; I hope as time goes on I forget the ending and only remember the powerful beginning and middle. It added about a week to the reading time because I just didn't want to go back to spend time with a woman who I now suspect will spend the rest of her life looking for a man to abuse her, despite the temporary happy ending on the last page.

Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells. Murderbot #3. My reread of the Murderbot books has really sealed how great they are. The first time I read them there was a month or so between them as I ordered them from the library; this time Tor.com gave them away as ebooks to celebrate the new novel and my book club read them all in two weeks. It brings clarity to Murderbot's emotional journey as it runs from emotional entanglements but then tiptoes back toward friendships. So Murderbot has no intention of going back to its guardian/owner but just happens to decide to find things to give her. I also like the way the titles mean several things -- Murderbot has gone rogue, but so has Miki. Miki's owners programmed free choice into it. Occasionally humans surprise Murderbot.

Exit Strategy, Martha Wells. Murderbot #4. This had a great balance of Murderbot being very good at being a security bot and very bad at understanding its emotions. It is good at getting people out of dangerous situations and using any tool at hand to facilitate that and bring confusion to its enemies; it is very bad and knowing when it is having a bit of a mental breakdown or recognizing a friend. Also, Wells is very good at pleasing me as a reader and I'm looking forward to the next book.

Ship of Ruin, Lindsay Buroker. The complications, moral dilemmas, and triumphs continue to pile up for Cosmir and his friends. Who stole the design for the robots? Who should have access to the deadly but potentially gamechanging artifacts? What do friends owe each other? When is violence morally acceptable? And is that woman trying to flirt with him? Buroker is good at having her characters solve their immediate problems but have that solution leave them with bigger issues to deal with in the next book. 

The Witches Are Coming, Lindy West. For my feminist book club. Lindy West again being willing to assert herself and not squeeze herself in the smaller space reserved for women (or the even smaller space fat women are supposed to occupy).  I found myself not enjoying this as much as I did Shrill, although I found her viciously accurate and still funny and enjoyed watching her skewer the people who would deprive women of health care, of safety, of standing as human beings. And I think the reason is that I don't share her optimism -- I fear that the witches are coming but they'll be gunned down by men and the people who support them, the people who elected Trump. I've lost faith in the basic humanity of Americans. Yuck.

Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Tender MorselsThe Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #2)Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellUncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington, #14)
Rediscover CatholicismWinter Sisters (Mary Sutter, #2)On a Sunbeam


Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan. 5/10 discs. The girls are growing up, which obviously worries their mom since by the time she was their age she had been repeatedly raped. Bear is getting a bit inappropriate. 

Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan. The library called this home. I will try to get it back after I finish Jonathan Strange. 

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke. The scene where Clarke tells us that Norrell had no idea that Strange cared about his wife was really well done. 

Uncompromising Honor, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial. We're still prepping for the action. This will be a long haul.

Rediscover Catholicism, Matthew Kelly. Final section is the call to action in regard to rejoining the Church, especially if you still have issues.

Winter Sisters, Robin Oliveira. Time for testimony.

On a Sunbeam, Tillie Walden. Just when I was starting to feel complacent about my growing skill in reading graphic novels, I find myself struggling to tell people apart. 

Picture Books / Short Stories:

Το μήλο και άλλα φρούτα - | Public βιβλία

Το μήλο και άλλα φρούτα (Οι Πρώτες Ανακαλύψεις μου), Pierre Marie-Valat. (The Apple and Other Fruit) This was actually really hard, with complete and complex sentences and a lot of new vocabulary. If I have ever read it to my kids, I definitely faked it really hard. I will need to rest my exhausted brain for a week or so after this.
  

Palate Cleansers

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

The Educated Child: A Parents Guide from Preschool Through Eighth GradeCookieGive All to Love (Sanguinet Saga, #11)Tell the Wolves I'm HomeWool (Wool, #1)Reading and Learning to Read


The Educated Child, William Bennett. Art and music. There is good art and bad art, and you'll know it when you see it, I guess.

Cookie, Jacqueline Wilson.

Give All to Love, Patricia Veryan. 

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt. I am so glad that I never learned how to do existential guilt.

Wool, Hugh Howey.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Teachers should look at how and why they are choosing different parts of a reading program.

Reading Challenges
  1. May Asian Heritage Month: Two books, working on calendar.
  2. Cybils TBR Challenge: #CybilsReaddown: Count now at 12! 
  3. Cybils 2017. Nothing. 
  4. Cybils 2018. Still reading On a Sunbeam. 
  5. Cybils 2019. I bought all the board books. And I think I'll try to read the early chapter books.
  6. Reading My Library. OK, I finished some books but now am deep in book club weeds but this is right there...
  7. Ten to Try. At 9/10. I now have my KCLS staff recommendation. I went with The Witches Are Coming as more consciously current. I still want a better musician book. 
  8. Where Am I Reading: 17/51 states. 13 Countries. The Great Alone is Alaska, and Spirit Hunters is D.C.
  9. Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. 17/24. Six left:  #2 (retelling by PoC author), 6 (play by PoC or queer author), 13 (food book about a new to me cuisine), 15 (climate change), 17 (sci-fi novella), 23 (literary magazine), and 24 (Indigenous author). Hmm. There's a strong discussion of climate change in The Witches Are Coming, but it's not really "about" it.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Asian Heritage Month -- May Challenge



(File photo by Flickr user Nate McBean via Creative Commons license)

May is Asian Heritage Month, and a friend in a book club pointed out a challenge to go with it, hosted by ReadWith Cindy  with a selection of challenges and a read-along. I can't do the read-along, but I'll try for the others. 

CHALLENGES
1) Read any book by an Asian author. 
2) Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who you can relate to. Ex: If you’re an immigrant you can read about an immigrant character; if you’re a woman you can read a book by another woman; etc. 
3) Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who is different from you. Ex: If you’re straight you can read about a queer character; if you’re Japanese you can read a book by a Vietnamese author; etc. 
4) Read a book recommended by an Asian. Ex: Watch an Asian booktuber’s recommendations video; ask your Asian friend what book best represents them; have an Asian friend choose between 2 books on your TBR; etc. 
5) OPTIONAL: Read “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng and participate in the Little Fires Readalong and the Little Fires Watchalong

  1. Spirit Hunters, Ellen Oh. (Korean) (a book!)
  2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, Mindy Kaling (India) (woman, person who isn't hung out with)
  3. On a Sunbeam, Tilly Waldon. (I think Mia was Asian. Sometimes. They were different from me because they were very young). Midwinter Witch, Molly Ostertag. (I think young Ariel was Asian)
Looking around for an image to put at the top I tripped across another challenge for May, so I'll see how I do on that as well. This one is by Books And Boba, a blog and podcast about Asian books. Each day they challenge you to come up with a book matching that day's type.  I'll keep coming back to this through May to see how I do. So far it's pretty hard.

  1. Dragonwings, Laurence Yep 
  2. Giant Spider & Me, Kikori Morino
  3. We Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai
  4. Eight Million Gods, Wen Spencer.
  5. Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee
  6. Jade City, Fonda Lee
  7. On a Sunbeam, Tilly Waldon. ??
  8. Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Alan Burgess ??
  9. House of Sixty Fathers, Meindert Dejong. ??
  10. Legend, Lu
  11. Three Body Problem
  12. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, Mindy Kaling
  13. The Bride Test, Helan Hoang
  14. Turner Brothers by Courtney Milan
  15. A Bride's Story, Kaoru Mori
  16. The Spirit Hunter, Ellen Oh
  17. Lin Po Po
  18. ?? Mystery by Asian author?
  19. I Shot the Buddha, Colin Cotterill
  20. Dragonwings, Laurence Yep
  21. Best We Could Do, Thi Bui
  22. Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson
  23. Boxer/Saints Gene Luen Yang
  24. The Shadow Hero, Gene Luen Yang
  25. ??Asian MC with disability??
  26. Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
  27. Other Words For Home, Jasmine Warga
  28. Listen, Slowly, Tranhha Lee
  29. Every Falling Star, Sunju Lee
  30. ?? 2020 Debut novel ??
  31. The Black Tides of Heaven, JY Yang

rasterized sqaure challenge