Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Library Questing

So, for the past few years I've been slowly reading a book from every shelf of the library. I check out a pile, then return in a few months and check out the next pile. But now things need to speed up a bit -- We have our official notice that the library is getting renovated this summer, so I'm trying to hurry up and finish the Juvenile books before everything is completely reshuffled. Then I just have to figure out what are the new sections of the library and continue my Every Shelf Quest.

Anyway, I hit the Fairy Tale shelves:

E398.20941 A Home In the Sky, Olivia Snowe. This retelling of Jack and the Beanstock drags the story into the modern day, which leaves a lot of moral ambiguity. Jack's mother is poor and rather abusive, demanding that Jack sell his bike and exchange his paper route for an elusive better job, and she swerves from blindly accepting the bag of gold he brings home to foolishly insisting they turn themselves into the tyrant Jack has been stealing from.  It's a sprightly tale but doesn't hang together in afterthought.

E398.20942 English Fairy Tales & More English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs, ed. by Donald Haase. Back when the Grimms were big news, other countries also searched out their home tales. These books were written for kids but had scholarly notes at the back detailing where the stories were found, what changes were made, and parallels between other stories here and in other lands. Interesting. I tried reading a few of them to my captive audience and he enjoyed it.

E398.20956 The Wise Fool: Fables From the Islamic World, Shahruhk Husain. A delightful book about a trickster iman who sometimes triumphs and sometimes fails. The illustrations match the mood of the stories perfectly.

E398.8 Other Goose, J.otto Siebold Reminiscent of The Stinky Cheese Man, this has twisted version of nursery rhymes along with bold, almost deviant art. Preschoolers should love it.

The Holiday Shelves:

CHRISTMAS: A Child Is Born: From the Gospel According to St. Luke. Unlike the other Christmas stories, this one is about religious Christmas, not the secular, Santa one. Warm, gentle pictures accompany the text, even occasionally obscuring it a little when the dark print appears in the dark blue sky. Each page has only a few sentences, making this appropriate for smaller children, but the pages are interesting enough to linger over.

CHRISTMAS  Christmas Wombat, Jackie French. Clean white pages show tubby wombat and his quest for carrots as he smuggles himself aboard Santa's sleigh and eats delicacies (carrots) all over on Christmas Eve. Cute.

CHRISTMAS Dinosaur vs. Santa, Bob Shea. Vibrant colors and huge depictions of little dinosaur propel this preschool aimed story along with energy and vim. I would have enjoyed reading this to my sons when they were young (I just handed it to an old one).

EASTER: Piggy Bunny, Rachel Vail. A wonderful story about a piglet who dreams of becoming the Easter Bunny. His family assure him that he's a wonderful piglet who doesn't need to change, but his grandma enables his fantasy. With a little help from the internet in my favorite page spread -- Liam: "You know how to make an Easter Bunny suit?" Grandma: "Absolutely not. We will order one on the internet." I want to grow up to be that Grandma.

HALLOWEEN: Halloween Good Night, Doug Cushman. A cozy little book with a repetitive rhythm following a variety of traditional Halloween monsters getting tucked into bed, from a werewolf through ghosts to an alien, with a nice concluding page summarizing all the good night phrases and adding in a bunch of different languages, helpfully translated on the final page.

JEWISH HOLIDAYS: Talia and the Rude Vegetables, Linda Elovitz Marshall. Preparing for Rosh Hashanah, Talia goes out to pick vegetables. Thinking her grandmother asked particularly for "rude" vegetables, she has to figure out how to tell which potatoes, parsnips, etc are rude vs polite, and then gives the extra to the needy. The pictures and text are fun but classy, and the recipe at the end would be fun to make as a family.

The Easy NonFiction Shelves:

E020.23 Let's Meet a Librarian, Gina Bellisario. Of course I picked this one from the shelf of community workers! It's a fun look at the different roles of librarians, especially school librarians, who track books, share information, and fix computers. Sometimes they even read stories! Yes, this book strengthens my belief that librarians are cool.

E323.119607 Rosa's Bus: The Ride to Civil Rights, Jo. S. Kittinger. I have to disagree with the first page of this book -- I don't think bus #2857 is actually famous. I think "famous" implies that people know the name, and I certainly don't know that number. But the story is a good hook for the history of the bus boycott inspired by Rosa Parks.

E428.1 Thumbtacks, Earwax, Lipstick, Dipstick: What Is a Compound Word, Brian P. Cleary. Fun pictures and amusing words fill the pages of this amusing book, but I'm not sure who the audience is. Do kids really pick up grammar books on their own? I think this would work as a picture book, though.

E495.182421 My First Book of Chinese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book, Faye-Lynn Wu. The introduction for parents gives a sense of the purpose of the book and helps with pronunciation, and the pictures and chosen words look like they'd work well with preschoolers. However, the English verses are stilted. I think the rhymes were a mistake. I liked how the book gives both the Chinese characters and the pronunciation of the chosen words.

E513.211 Mice Mischief: Math Facts in Action, Caroline Stills. I have no idea how someone decides what's a picture book versus a Easy Reader nonfiction.  This book actually shows the equations (9+1=10, 8+2=10...) so maybe that sends this book of cute mice cleaning their house over to the serious stuff section?

E536.50287 Measuring Mania: Measuring Temperature, Darice Bailer. Cute, crisp pages explain the science behind temperature. Meanwhile, I'm distracted by the photo of a soup above text discussing getting fudge to the right temperature, a craft to create a fake thermometer (why?), and advice to get adult help to turn on the oven -- my new pet peeve is learned helplessness for children.

E567.918 Pterosaur Trouble, Daniel Loxton.  This cute story of a pterosaur's brush with danger dances very close to the fiction/nonfiction line. It obviously never happened, and it takes a lot of guesses to say it could have happened. Not sure I would have put it on this side of the line.

E591.43 Over and Under the Snow, Kate Messner. Another picture book that could just as easily be shelved outside the nonfiction area. The crisp, white-filled pictures do illustrate a beautiful scene, but the facts appear almost secondary.

E595.789 Grow With Me: Butterfly, Kate Riggs. A denser description of the butterfly life cycle, form, and habits, with highlighted vocabulary and large photos with eye-catching inserts. I do think that elaborate Dewey numbers are worthless for most school and public libraries -- 595 is the insect shelf, and the longer numbers just teach kids that Dewey numbers don't mean much, which is horribly untrue.

E599.67 Queenie: One Elephants Story,  Corienne Fenton. In 1896 or so, a baby elephant, was born, and by 1905 she was old enough to start giving rides to children at the Melbourne zoo. In 1944 she squashed a keeper and banned from giving passenger rides, and since she was no longer a cash cow for the zoo, she was put to sleep. Thus the history of the zoo movement and elephants is distilled into a tragic picture book.

E618.9297 I Think I Am Going to Sneeze: A First Look at Allergies, Pat Thomas. This transparent mission book wants to reassure children that their allergies won't kill them or doom them to a life of social leprosy before they are old enough to understand what loneliness is. If it also transmits some information, BONUS. Still, didactic is not a flaw in the nonfiction section. I will try it on my allergy-lad.

E625.1 Trains, Amy Shields. I had a child who lived and breathed trains, so this shelf is very familiar to me. It's hard to go wrong with pictures of trains, and any text you throw down works. This one was not memorable, so not great but not terrible. I did find the engineer annoying -- I suspect my kid would have wanted him to step out of the way so he could see the trains better.

E636.7376 My Favorite Dogs: German Shepherd, Jinny Johnson. This book is an obvious excuse for lots of cute dog pictures, along with some text giving the history and best features of the breed. It's clearly a nonfiction, and can I use this entry to complain again about huge Dewey numbers on skinny kids books? It's foolish.

E690 Look at That Building: A First Book of Structures, Scot Ritchie. This book felt like a nonfiction tome -- although it had a window dressing of named characters to lead us to the information, each page clearly laid out the message to be delivered and the concepts and vocabulary conveyed. It would have been a fun read and lead to kids playing around with stud finders.

E791.64 Cheer Skills, Jen Jones. I read this after watching the Buffy episode where she tries out for the cheerleading squad, so I had something to compare the skills with. It gives a decent overview of some of the main skills (jumps, hand motions, ripples) and then reminds everyone to SMILE. I'm still not sure that it's a sport, though.

E796.91 Ice Skating, Bob Temple. A similar style book that covers the different kinds of skates and ice sports, with slightly dated pictures of smiling people skating. It seemed odd to me that so many of them were skating outside, but that's because I always try to live in sane places where the weather doesn't allow that sort of thing.

E821.7 Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Jerry Pinkney. Pinkney lavishly illustrates the famous poem (including some less famous verses) with pictures showing a complete story of a questing squirrel. The painting and details are fascinating; I would have enjoyed reading this with my kids. I'm not sure why it's a poetry book rather than a picture book though.

E979.132 Big Outdoors: GRAND CANYON, Valerie Bodden. Big pictures on one side, text with a inset picture on the other, and the Grand Canyon as the subject means this book is fun to page through. The informative text doesn't grate, but of course the pictures of the view dominate. More fun than I expected, and definitely nonfiction.

EB All Star: Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever, Jane Yolen. Fun story of one of the first Baseball Hall of Fame honorees. Wagner played baseball in the early 1900s after a hardworking childhood in a Pittsburgh suburb. He canceled his card when he realized they were sold inside packs of cigarettes, which he considered a bad marketing ploy for children. The title was a bit misleading since the card was only mentioned on one page and the target audience may not have a complete understanding of the economics of memorabilia and scarcity.

And the Easy Readers:

Baker, Keith. Fishing: A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure. Keith Baker is one of my favorite picture book artists, and I remember reading some of these books with my kids. It's a Level 2 (easy) read but with tons of humor and characterization pack in. The characters are as unselfish as Gossie, but in a believable way.

Dunrea, Olivier. Gossie. Level 1 (super easy) reader about an improbably gosling. I didn't find the boot-wearing improbable, but the conclusion to the story -- Gossie's beloved boots are stolen, and her reaction is to split them with the thief. I don't want friends like that.

Marshall, James. George and Martha, Full of Surprises. This older early reader lures new literates with the welcoming hippo art of the main characters. It's easy to like to read when you see the illustrations of two friends squeezed into a Ferris wheel seat.  The surprise plot is an acceptable mate to the pictures.

McPhail, David. A Bug, a Bear, and a Boy. Although the text is simple and sparse enough to justify the Level 1 rating, it's also fresh and entertaining. I read it with my emergent reader, and he approved of everything except the green bath water, which I have to admit is rather repulsive. The author's name sounds familiar -- is this the guy who wrote the prize winning Amos book?

Rylant, Cynthia & Howard, Arthur. Mr Putter & Tabby Dance the Dance. My second son jumped into independent reading with this series, so it has a special place in my heart. And I hope he'll still read this latest selection even though I doubt his eighth grade teachers would accept it in his reading log.

Rylant, Cynthia. Poppleton and Friends. Wow, I guess Rylant rates two shelves worth of easy books. This book was also fun, although the relationships between the characters aren't that firmly established. The giggles at the idea of a pig wearing the same shirt three days in a row were a joy to hear.

Willems, Mo. I'm a Frog! Somehow I skipped last year's entry in the Elephant & Piggie series, which was a shame because this one is a lot of fun. It has some biggish words (pretending) but also has the fun of Gerald's panic and bewilderment as Piggie explains the imagination to him.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Big Books and I Cannot Lie

It's time for another Reading Challenge! How about Book By Book's 2014 Big Book Summer Challenge.The idea here is that summer is the   time to read giant chunksters of books, and I can't really argue with that. So here's to seeing how many books longer than 400 pages I read between now and the end of summer, declared to be the end of America's Labor Day weekend (this year, September 1st).

The first book I'll try for is Lynn Flewelling's Shards of Time, which clocks in at 400 pages. After I get that finished, I'll look at David Weber's A Rising Thunder, Laurell K Hamilton's Affliction, and Elizabeth Moon's Crown of Renewal. I also note that Rick Riordan's Son of Neptune looks promisingly thick.

Note that absolute lack of literary award or academic street cred among my choices. I'm going straight for beach reads, guilty pleasures, and summer relaxation.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Making a Plan and Checking It Twice

Image of Renton
I need to replace my library picture as it is now a giant construction site as our town pulls it into conformity with 21st Century ideas of fashion, safety, and library configuration. The back-up library doesn't actually have any books, just a place for your holds to rest, and healthy as that might be for my normal over-indulgence, it just doesn't work for me.

So I've shifted to my primary back-up library, but the picture our county has for it is the dreamy mock-up they hope will replace THAT sometime next year. I may have to trundle about with a camera to document my library love. Renton Highlands still has books, although I stuck to my hold shelf. Well, I did search through all the tempting QuickPicks for anything set in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado or Connecticut, but came up empty.

Now that I have the idea of starting one book a day for the rest of the summer (as opposed to last year, where the goal was to FINISH a book each day) I have to figure out what I'm reading. And since I'm also doing the library-due-date dance, I have to make sure I finish some books on time. Of course, I'm unlikely to actually complete a book a day, especially with the stuff I have planned for next week, so it's a good thing I've replaced my dainty book bag with a sturdy, voluminous tote.

So this week I had some books planned out:

Monday: Derik's Bane
Tuesday: Mrs Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish
Wednesday: Prisoner B-3087
Thursday: Ouran High School Host Club 1

And I mostly kept to that, so that I could go the library and turn in all of those (well, not Derik's Bane, because that was an e-book and will just quietly go poof from my NOOK).  And then I went into the library and picked up a few books, which I will ignore and instead read:

Friday: Death's Daughter, Amber Benson. Vaginal Fantasy online book club pick. NOOK.
Saturday: Crown of Renewal, Elizabeth Moon. Because I like her stuff.
Sunday: Archangel's Storm, Nalini Singh. I skipped this and read the latest.
Monday: A Rising Thunder, David Weber. Because Weber is fun.
Tuesday: Yonder Comes the Other End of Time, Suzette Haden Elgin. This is from my TBR bookcase.
Wednesday: Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh, R.L. LaFevers. Finishing off this series.
Thursday: Skin Dive, Ava Gray. Another NOOK pick.

If somehow I don't need to start Skin Dive (I'm trying to limit myself to only a few open NOOK books at a time), I have The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay as a back-up.

What did I bring home? And wouldn't it be different if I caught up enough on my library pile that the books I was planning to read had some relation to the books I brought home with such eager anticipation? I should really try that sometime...
The Marriage Bureau for Rich PeopleReading in the WildA Web of AirDivergent

The Marrige Bureau for Rich People, Farahad Zama. This is our August book pick, so I don't want to read it for a few weeks.
Reading in the Wild, Donalyn Miller. How a teacher inspires kids to love reading. I'm not a teacher, but I like kids to love reading, and I also like book recommendations, so I'll probably enjoy this book. In my dream job I'd wander around schools and match kids to books.

A Web of Air, Philip Reeve. I liked the first book in this series, so I got the second. X has already read it and says it's good. I'll get to it in August sometime.

Divergent, Veronica Roth. Well, this was a surprise. I thought my spot on the holds list was about three weeks away. It's already been stolen by X anyway, but I'd better schedule it for next week sometime.
Death's DaughterSkin Dive
I also got two digital books sometime this week. I'll go sign in to Library Loot which is at Captive Reader this week to see what everyone else is getting.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fireworks and Statuses

I've just come back from a lovely vacation, where I got to visit my mom and my best friend and her lovely family, and I brought along my lovely son. It was lovely. Have I mentioned that?

It was also a time of delicious food and interesting days, along with learning much about my iphone that I had never known before. Also there were sparklers involved.

Most summers I try to read a book a day, but this year I haven't really committed to that. Yet not having an impossible and arbitary goal is nagging at me. I think I'll commence STARTING a book each day (and try to keep that to only one book) and see how that works for me.

What have I read this week and last week? I shall tell bookjourney's crew about it, and, since so much of my reading is kidlit, also link to Teach Mentor Texts:
  • Skin Heat, Ava Gray. I'm enjoying these almost science fictional paranormals, although the sex is a bit graphic for my tastes.
  • Angel's Blood, Nalini Singh (reread). My book club had fun with this. It was as close as I could find to a "sex slave" book.
  • Grim, Ellen Hopkins (ed). My son and I enjoyed these YA short stories. Sarah Rees Brennan's "Beauty and the Chad" was our favorite because it made us laugh.
  • Black Butler, Yana Toboso. A manga recommended by my elementary book club. Good enough for me to order up the sequel.
  • Other Goose, J.otto Seibold. A Reading My Library pick, reminiscent of The Stinky Cheese Man.
  • The Gilda Stories, Jewelle Gomez. Best lesbian vampire book I've ever read.
  • The Martian, Andy Weir. Simple, clever fun.
  • Blue Remembered Hills, Rosemary Sutcliff. Nifty biography. I like how she faced her lameness.
  • Garment of Shadows, Laurie R. King. A good addition to the girl-marries-Sherlock-Holmes series. I think the amnesia endeared Mary Russell to me; she sometimes seems too smug.
  • A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis. This was an interesting if a bit repetitive discussion of the science and biology of the emotion love.
  • The Sharing Knife 4: Horizon, Lois McMaster Bujold (reread). At first I was grumpy because I really liked the idea of an insoluble problem, but the more I get over the book it isn't the more I appreciate the book it is.
  • My Real Children, Jo Walton. Very cool. Highly recommended.
  • Poppleton and Friends, Cynthia Rylant (picture book) Why do the animals wear shirts but not pants? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • A Bug, a Bear, and a Boy, David McPhail (picture book). Even the fifth sixth grader noticed the alliteration -- let's hear it for the letter B. An exceptional easy reader -- simple but not boring.
What am I currently reading?
  • The Midnight Tunnel, Angie Frasier. The library is calling this middle grade mystery home so I am trying to finish it quickly. I like the setting -- a holiday hotel in Canada in the early 1900s.
  • The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan. A paperback pick from the library that looks interesting. I hope it's a quick read as it's due on Thursday.
  • English Fairy Tales and More English Fairy Tales, Joseph Jacobs. The last book for my Reading My Library Quest, Juvenile Section.
  • Shards of Time, Lynn Flewelling.  The series is long enough to get a bit top-heavy -- I hope she reminds me of backstory because it's all muddled, but I can usually trust Flewelling to tell an interesting tale.
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. I am slowly savoring this. I suspect when I finish it I will go back to the first page and start all over again.
  • Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty. Tough family life. 
  • Tinker, Wen Spencer. I'm rereading to see how it works with Wood Sprites. And because I like rereading it.
  • The Golden Leopard, Lynn Kerstan. Finally made some progress!
  • Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. Recommended by Talbot Hill Elementary book club. Library due dates keep pushing it back -- see Black Butler up ahead, another recommendation.
  • The Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan. Following up on this series. Since I own it, there is no urgency.
Reading intermittently, and deliberately slowly. These never change much:
  • Out to Canaan, Jan Karon. Some reunions, which probably mean more to people who read the earlier books.
  • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. Quite dull.
  • How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, Orson Scott Card. How to live the life of a real writer.
What's up next? After I finish the library fire drills, I've got a paranormal on my NOOK and I'm hankering for another Mrs Pollifax fix.

2014 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils: 48/77. Time to get cracking on these again.
  2. Where Am I Reading? 29/51. Gosh darn it, I already had Alabama! I need Alaska, Arizona and Arkansas. Also Colorado and Connecticut -- any recommendations?
  3. Alphabetically Inclined: 18/26. It would help to catch up on these library books so I can read more from my shelves!
  4. What's In a Name?: 6/7. Weather is surprisingly hard. Would "Heat" count?
  5. Book Bingo: Finished a square!  Seven boxes into the next one since I last calculated.
  6. Gentle Spectrum Challenge: 10/10 colors, but I still need a cheesy title. The Other Goose would count, but I want a longer entry.-
  7. Small Fry Safari: 7/8. No change. Still need something precious.
  8. PoC Speculative Fiction 9/5: Three books this week would qualify. Maybe four, but I forget how dark the protagonist of Skin Heat was.
  9. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  I am stalled.
  10. Reading My Library: One book to finish off the first section. Then I go on break while they rebuild the library.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Reading In the Summertime

I'm clinging to my blog by this weekly update, although at least I'm thinking a little about what I would say if I did write about my reading. Maybe in a few weeks I'll actually type them down.

It was a lazy week; I let the boys sleep in and loll about to decompress from the school year. They even declined a trip to the local amusement park, preferring to avoid the AM hours. In July we have our trips and vacations planned, so we'll be more active.

I did enjoy going through the first season of Buffy with my new teenager. I highly recommend that as a coming-of-age show for parents and teens, since it takes aim at the stresses of adolescence and makes them cheesy and literal. Yes, that friend you met on the internet is a demon. Yes, boys have an evil beast within. Yes, you are doomed to die. Yes, the things you do mean life or death to the universe.

What have I read this week? I shall tell bookjourney's crew about it, and, since so much of my reading is kidlit, also link to Teach Mentor Texts:
  • The Human Division, John Scalzi. I like the way his books sound light and fluffy, all snark and dialogue, and then suddenly there's a paragraph that lets you know that things are real all the way down.
  • Crow, Barbara Wright. It's very depressing to read historical fiction when you know things are going to end badly but the characters are all hopeful.
  • Perdition (The Dred Chronicles), Ann Aguirre. I noticed the writing was a bit careless, but I still liked the situations and characters.
  • The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction, Justine Larbalestier. Sometimes it's nice to read English PhD papers, with all their fancy words and stuff. I also got some recommendations out of this one.
Also some picture books which I put on my Reading My Library Quest page.

What am I currently reading?
  • My Real Children, Jo Walton. I expect to love this.
  • The Martian, Andy Weir. NOOK Sword & Laser's pick last month.
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. I snuck this onto my phone. It is delicious.
  • Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty. A memoir of growing up in Africa.
  • Tinker, Wen Spencer. I'm rereading to see how it works with Wood Sprites.
  • The Golden Leopard, Lynn Kerstan. Library books keep pushing this NOOK book out of the way.
  • Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. Recommended by Talbot Hill Elementary book club.
  • The Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan. Following up on this series.
  • Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty. Present from LibraryThing EarlyReaders.
Reading intermittently, and deliberately slowly. These never change much:
  • Out to Canaan, Jan Karon. Some reunions, which probably mean more to people who read the earlier books.
  • A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis. The importance of childhood learning in intimacy.
  • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. Quite dull.
  • How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, Orson Scott Card. How to live the life of a real writer.
What's up next? Mostly NOOK reads, plus my travel books for visiting Texas with.

2014 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils: 48/77. Have a pile of the next category but haven't stared anything yet.
  2. Where Am I Reading? 29/51. Added North Carolina. If I don't finish something on Monday (and I haven't started anything relevant) I'll be officially behind schedule on Tuesday. Guess it's time to start seeking out books.
  3. Alphabetically Inclined: 17/26. No change. Luck is not favoring me. Am reading an "M" book, which will help.
  4. What's In a Name?: 6/7. Division is a school subject!
  5. Book Bingo: Finished a square!  Seven boxes into the next one.
  6. Gentle Spectrum Challenge: 8/10, 9/10. Need a cheesy title -- I can't believe it's taking so long!
  7. Small Fry Safari: 7/8. No change. Still need something precious.
  8. PoC Speculative Fiction 6/5: No change.
  9. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  Ready to start Ready Player One.
  10. Reading My Library: Working hard on it. Well, except that the library just closed for a year, so not so much when the current pile is done.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Giant Catch-Up Post

2aMy last status report was over a month ago, and since then I've traveled to see my grandmother a final time, traveled again for her funeral, thrown another foam sword party, had our Shakespeare Reading Book Club meeting (postponed twice -- see above travel), allowed my now 13 year old niece the privilege of the passenger side front seat, had our year-end party for my elementary book club (We Have Cookies) at which I received about 25 book recommendations that I'm expected to read over the summer break, and WON A PRIZE in MotherReader's 48 Hour Reading Challenge. And then summer vacation started.

So it's been a time of ups and downs. Sometimes I read feverishly, sometimes I read glacially, and sometimes I just played on my computer while my books sulked to the side. But summer is coming in, and I hope to make some progress on my to-read book shelves, especially the kidlit books. So far I'm managing to read a book a day this summer, but posting is still a problem.

What have I read since May 5th? I shall tell bookjourney's crew about it, and, since so much of my reading is kidlit, also link to Teach Mentor Texts:
  • A Home in the Sky (Twicetold Tales), Olivia Snowe. A Reading My Library pick -- I'm finishing up the Children's Library shelves before the big library renovation.
  • The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater. The Great Gatsby crossed with The Secret Country. I got bogged down in the rich-are-different parts though.
  • The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson. Very fun Cybils finalist.
  • The Wise Fool, Shahrukh Husain. Another Reading My Library pick. P liked the fables.
  • True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Kathi Appelt. Quirky Cybils pick. A bit too quirky for me.
  • Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin. Alt pick for Vaginal Fantasy. Good mystery and setting.
(The above I read this week, and now we dive into the archives:)
  • Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase, Jonathan Stroud. Another Cybils finalist, so popular we picked it for our June family book club.
  • Mrs Pollifax and the Golden Triangle, Dorothy Gilman. Nothing deep, but a fun visit to Thailand.
  • The World Outside, Eva Wiseman.  LibraryThing EarlyReader gift. Interesting story of a Hasidic girl deciding where to spend her future.
  • Standards-Based Report Cards, Thomas R. Guskey. Finally finished the text for my committee work. They canceled the last meeting to work on training teachers into our recommendations.
  • Wood Sprites, Wen Spencer. I bought the ARC from Baen because I'm a huge fan of this writer. Worth it.
  • Phantom Eyes, Scott Tracey. 48 Hour book challenge book. 
  • The Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou. 48 Hour book challenge book. 
  • Skin Tight, Ava Gray. 48 Hour book challenge book. 
  • The Boy Who Dared, Susan Campbell Bartoletti. 48 Hour book challenge book. 
  • Heart of Steel, Meljean Brook. 48 Hour book challenge book. 
  • Archangel's Legion, Nalini Singh. 48 Hour book challenge book. 
  • The Summer of May, Cecilia Galante. 48 Hour book challenge book. 
  • Demon Eyes, Scott Tracey. 48 Hour book challenge book. 
  • The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan. Sword and Laser Kids pick. Good enough that I'm reading the next one.
  • Jinx's Magic, Sage Blackwood. The Cybils finalist was so good I read the sequel. And now I want the last one.
  • Thankless in Death, J.D. Robb. Standard Eve & Roarke fare, but a bit on the icky side.
  • Skin Game, Ava Gray. Fun SF paranormal romance.
  • Radio Fifth Grade, Gordon Korman. One of my very slow books -- fun and spunky tale of kid shenanigans while dodging homework and running a school radio show.
  • The Candy Shop War, Brandon Mull. Adventure story recommended by my elementary book club, also approved by my high schooler.
  • Child of a Hidden Sea, A.M. Dellamonica. Fun ARC I read through netgallery and recommend to all.
  • Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha, Dorothy Gilman. A glance at the darker aspects of Mrs. Pollifax's holiday.
  • Rose and the Lost Princess, Holly Webb. Another sequel to a Cybils book -- that's always a good sign.
  • Early Sunday Morning: Pearl Harbor Diary of Amber Billows, Barry Denenberg. Book club recommendation that also gave me my Hawaii book for this year.
  • Michael Hague's Read-to-Me Book of Fairy Tales, Michael Hague. Reading My Library book that was beautiful and evocative.
  • Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus, R.L. LaFevers. As a parent, I think the main character is neglected. As a child reader, I'd think her independent.
  • What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings, Joyce Sidman. A Cybils poetry book that didn't quite mesh with me.
  • The Dollhouse Murders, Betty Ren Wright. A book club recommendation that really brought back the books of my youth, with all the adults not interested in understanding the kids' motivations but very concerned with their proper behavior.
What am I currently reading?
  • Tinker, Wen Spencer. I'm rereading to see how it works with Wood Sprites.
  • The Golden Leopard, Lynn Kerstan. Library books keep pushing this NOOK book out of the way.
  • Crow, Barbara White. My current NOOK book, about a boy in turn of the century North Carolina.
  • Perdition, Ann Aguirre. Again, library books are muscling forward, but I am enjoying this.
  • Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. Recommended by Talbot Hill Elementary book club.
  • The Human Division, John Scalzi. My emergency read for the plane.
  • The Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan. Following up on this series.
  • Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty. Present from LibraryThing EarlyReaders.
Reading intermittently, and deliberately slowly. These never change much:
  • Out to Canaan, Jan Karon. I read a section at a time, and this book has sections about half a page long.
  • A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis. 
  • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. 
  • How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, Orson Scott Card. How to live the life of a real writer.
What's up next? Stuff from my Goodreads TBR list, I hope.

2014 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils: 48/77. Finished poetry and Middle Grade Spec Fic. Ordered up Middle Grade Fiction and YA graphic novels.
  2. Where Am I Reading? 28/51. Added Louisiana. Currently reading a North Carolina book.
  3. Alphabetically Inclined: 17/26. Nine more.
  4. What's In a Name?: 5/7. Still need weather and school subject.
  5. Book Bingo: Finished a square! Two boxes into the next one.
  6. Gentle Spectrum Challenge: 8/10, 9/10. Need a cheesy title -- I can't believe it's taking so long!
  7. Small Fry Safari: 7/8. No change. Still need something precious.
  8. PoC Speculative Fiction 6/5: I'm working on Sorcerer!
  9. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  Hmm. I need to get some more of these books.
  10. Reading My Library: Working on it.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Sailer's Life For Me

I've had a netgallery account for ages, but I've never caught up with all the books already on my NOOK so I've rarely used it to get more. But as part of my attempt to start thinking about my reading more, I asked for A.M. Dellamonica's Child of a Hidden Sea, and lucked into a copy.

It's a fun portal world -- girl goes to another world and discovers things. At times it doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, because our viewpoint character knows that this is not her world and it doesn't seem as real too her -- it's a place to explore and wonder at, but especially after she finds she can get back, it's a display, not a reality. Cute ship captains, magic possibilities, hot aristocrats from another island -- it's like a vacation.

But as she returns and becomes more involved with the lives of the people, some of them her relatives, suddenly she and the reader realize that these are events are real, that these people matter, and that the danger may be more than they can overcome. It deepens the story and leaves the reader feeling that an whole meal, not a like popcorn snack, has been read. It didn't hurt that the main character is a strong woman, not perfect but a real protagonist, and her protective feeling towards her brother proves intense enough to help her rise into a real hero. I just found out that there's a sequel planned, and I'm also interested in seeing what Dellamonica's previous books were like.