Monday, November 13, 2017

Book Club!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I was dragging my feet on reading this week, so I gave up and just read and reread stuff that I knew I'd like from authors who I knew would deliver what I wanted. K J Charles, Courtney Milan, Lee Child, Norah McClintock -- all are authors that describe their contents on the tin and deliver what they promised. So I cheered my self up.

Friday was my friend's book club, which was a delight as always. These ladies are great. One jumped onto the plan to see THOR:RAGNAROK with me and my brother and son on Friday, and that was also a good time. And I got to zip around delivering people to places mostly on time, which makes me feel useful.

Currently Reading has wavered and stopped at 21. There are a few books I've been inching through that I need to finish up so I can get below 20 and stay 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 and I'm signing up there. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed, and my Cybils reading qualifies me. I'll go look to see what everyone else was reading at either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers.

This Week I started:

An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities, #2)An Unsuitable Heir (Sins of the Cities, #3)A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies, #2)The Third Degree (Chloe & Levesque, #1)
Flight of Magpies (A Charm of Magpies, #3)Jackdaw (The World of A Charm of Magpies)Make Me (Jack Reacher, #20)A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5)
The Keeper of the MistNothing to Lose (Jack Reacher, #12)Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American RightExpendable (League of Peoples, #1)

An Unnatural Vice, K J Charles. Ooo, one of my favorite tropes in a romance is where the problem is that one of the pair is a scoundrel. Not a "rake" but a crook or on the lam or, as in this case, a fraudulent spiritualist. Add in the rest of the friends crowd and this may be one of my favorites.

An Unsuitable Heir, K J Charles. This trilogy has the tightest over-all arc of the books of Charles that I've read so far. It will be fun to see if she sticks the landing.

A Case of Possession, K J Charles. When I go back to an author I go back with a vengeance.

The Third Degree, Norah McClintock. I'm trying to find more of her backlist.

A Flight of Magpies, K J Charles. More Charles.

Jackdaw, K J Charles. This one is set at the same time as Flight of Magpies but from a different perspective, so I'm going to read them in tandem.

Make Me, Lee Child. I'm not feeling like reading anything, so I'm going with random impulses. Also this may be set in Oklahoma.

A Kiss for Midwinter, Courtney Milan. Not only do I read anything I think of, I'm thinking of very short things.

The Keeper of the Mist, Rachel Neumeier. The next Cybils YA book.

Nothing to Lose, Lee Child. Another Jack Reacher story, this one hopefully in Colorado.

Strangers in Their Own Land, Arlie Hochschild. Apparently this book will explain how people can vote for Trump.

Expendable, James Alan Gardner.  For my Tuesday BookClub, which is also now a Minecraft club.

I finished:

An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities, #2)The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1)A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies, #2)An Unsuitable Heir (Sins of the Cities, #3)
A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5)Flight of Magpies (A Charm of Magpies, #3)Make Me (Jack Reacher, #20)Lust Killer

An Unnatural Vice, K J Charles. Just as fun as the first pages promised. The fogs of London are described in loathsome detail, and the tricks of communing with the dead also seem well researched. I like the dynamic between the characters, and the resolution of the conflict seemed fairly on and will lead into the next book well.

The Magpie Lord, K J Charles. It was fun to go back to Stephen and Lucien and the magic mixed in with a slightly earlier London.

A Case of Possession, K J Charles. These are short and fun and perfect for repelling a reading slump. The mix of interior and outer problems for our magician and the lord is finely balanced, along with a good mix of world building both fantastical and historical.

An Unsuitable Heir, K J Charles. This book was a bit distracted by having to wrap up the overarching mystery of the fog-killer, and the pairing didn't seem as strong, but the individuals were fascinating as they fit into their historical period as a one-armed man and a transgender acrobat. Or as the son of an anarchist and the lost heir to a title and estate.

A Kiss for Midwinter, Courtney Milan. I liked this but I couldn't really believe in the characters, so that limited its effectiveness for me. I'm also baffled on how it's a Brothers Sinister book but that's probably because it's been so long since I read the first ones. Again I had fun seeing the society from the viewpoints of Milan's always interesting people, but I didn't really buy their reactions to each other so it didn't really work as a romance for me.

A Flight of Magpies, K J Charles. It was interesting reading this alongside Jackdaw because you can really see the problems in the system with characters on both sides. I like how I can have such sympathy for people fighting between themselves. Stephen, Lucien, and Jonah had firmly held and completely incompatible ideas that had to be navigated.

Make Me, Lee Child. Jack Reacher and idle curiosity save the day. I find his relationships with women emotionally utterly opaque, but I guess he has a robust sex life? And he's probably good in bed, being athletic and all. On more important questions, they never give the state of the town he has to clean up, but the closest big city is Oklahoma City, so I'm counting this for Oklahoma. He goes there for supplies, anyway.

The Lust Killer, Ann Rule. Sarah Monette thinks this is a good example of true crime writing, and I agree that it gives a good sense of both the killer and the society he lives in (thirty years ago is a very different world). I also discovered that I'm far too squeamish to enjoy true crime stories.

I started 12 and finished 8. That's a bit of a backsliding for me.

Picture Books and Short Stories:
Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Lowriders in Space, #2)The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleig...

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, Cathy Camper. Cybils finalist. This elementary graphic novel mixes Spanish and English easily as the impala, mosquito and octopus search for their lost cat in their cool hot rod. I liked the red toned pictures and the easy friendship and trust among the three amigos.

"The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh," K J Charles. I believe I have now consumed all of Charles's published works, so I feel like a good completist. This one was a bit stressful for me, even though I knew it worked out well because I've read all the later novels.

Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Someplace to Be Flying (Newford, #8)Giant Pumpkin SuiteFirst Impressions

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Episode 23. I've started listening on higher speed because Alexander isn't here to either complain or change the speed back. Nonfiction podcasts are always on the highest speed diction allows, but audio books seem like a performance and it seems rude to alter the speed. But not as rude as crashing while driving because I tried to mess with my phone.

Someplace to Be Fying, Charles de Lint. Men are stomping around at each other.

Great Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. The kids play with sharp tools.

First Impressions, Nora Roberts. My audio Reading my Library Quest book. Maryland again! And I keep forgetting that Shane is the girl.

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

KenilworthA Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenReading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George. The stalled musician is still asking after his sister in the form of annoying pretend letters to his psychiatrist.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016!  49/107-ish. Working through elementary Graphic Novels and also back at the YAs. I'm not looking likely to finish by the end of the year.
  2. Reading My Library: Started First Impressions for my next audio, and picked up five more books from the next bookcase.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 36/51. I'm still doomed, even after picking up Oklahoma, Oregon, and something else that I forget.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Weather Craziness

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Well, I put off blogging, and then I read a lot of books, so I put it off again, but I like being able to go back to this book diary and see what I was reading when. Even when I'm reading too much because the weather got dark and dreary (it SNOWED! twice!) so I have been refusing to leave the house and ignoring all my responsibilities and just reading books. Sometimes even rereading books, because that feels even more like avoiding reality.

We also had Halloween, where I gave out candy and had a kidlit book club, and then I caved to Trump's War on Thanksgiving and didn't bother to put out my turkey decorations, figuring I would just start right in on procrastinating on putting out my Christmas stuff.

Currently Reading has held at 20 (single page!) for several days, until I started rereading several series at once so now it's at 22. Obviously I am a model of self-restraint. Or perhaps not.

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 not going to sign up because it's Thursday already. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed, and my Cybils reading qualifies me, but again it's Thursday so who am I kidding. I'll go look to see what everyone else was reading at either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers.

This Fortnight I started:
Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)The Secret Casebook of Simon FeximalWonderment in Death (In Death, #41.5)Still Life with TornadoA Family Under the Stars (Sugar Falls, Idaho #6)Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)Lust KillerGeared for the Grave (The Cycle Path Mysteries #1)
Running Out of TimeOnce a Rebel (Rogues Redeemed #2)Murder on a Summer's Day: A Kate Shackleton MysteryFirst ImpressionsThe Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4)Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister, #4.5)The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1)The Prisoner of Limnos (Penric and Desdemona, #6)

Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer. This was for my Tuesday night book club.

The Secret Casebook of Simon Fexinal, K.J. Charles. This is a book of short stories that are prequels to The Spectred Isle from last week.

Wonderment in Death, J.D. Robb. I am cleverly going for very short books, especially audios, in my Library Quest.

Still Life With Tornado, A.S. King. The next Cybils book. I am so far behind this year!

A Family Under the Stars, Christy Jeffries. I'm trying to read the books I've acquired this year, especially if they are set in Idaho (or other useful states).

Magic Binds, Ilona Andrews. Catching up with Kate Daniels.

Lust Killer, Ann Rule. Katherine Monette has been recommending Ann Rule books, so I picked one up.

Geared for the Grave, Duffy Brown. A Reading My Library Quest book.

Running Out of Time, Margaret Haddix. For the elementary school book club.

Once a Rebel, Mary Jo Putney. I am only a book behind on this series, I think.

Murder on a Summer's Day, Frances Brody. Another Reading My Library Quest book.

First Impressions, Nora Roberts. An audio Reading my Library Quest book. I liked the symmetry of picking a Nora Roberts after a J.D. Robb book (they are the same person).

Suffragette Scandal, Courtney Milan. I just wanted to read it.

Talk Sweetly to Me, Courtney Milan. I was on a roll!

The Magpie Lord, K J Charles. I decided I wanted more historical romance, so I'm rereading.

The Prisoner of Limnos, Lois McMaster Bujold. A new Penric story!

I finished:

The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)Little FuzzyThe Secret Casebook of Simon FeximalAnnihilation (Southern Reach, #1)Still Life with TornadoA Family Under the Stars (Sugar Falls, Idaho #6)
Hostage (The Change, #2)Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)Running Out of TimeOnce a Rebel (Rogues Redeemed #2)Geared for the Grave (The Cycle Path Mysteries #1)
Murder on a Summer's Day: A Kate Shackleton MysteryWonderment in Death (In Death, #41.5)The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4)Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister, #4.5)The Prisoner of Limnos (Penric and Desdemona, #6)

The Emerald Atlas, John Stephens. A fun fantasy kidlit, although I found the kids a bit amoral for my parental tastes. The older one also tended towards selfish guilt, which she used to talk herself into a lot of lying and avoiding speaking tough truths. My kids weren't all that prone to those faults, so I'm fairly intolerant of them.

Little Fuzzy, H. Beam Piper.  Another shelf in the audio section completed for my Reading My Library Quest. I've read this book in paper several times, shared it with my son, and enjoyed the retelling by Scalzi. Still, it was fun to hear it read to me, with all the exotic alien stuff such as after work cocktails and cigarettes and stuff.

The Secret Casebook of Simon Fexinal, K.J. Charles. I enjoyed the stories of this team of a magician and a journalist who defeat evil together in magical Victorian England, while enjoying a secret love affair that would shock readers of the in-story descriptions of their adventures. Charles has a good balance of interesting historical details and complex characters that are a bit out of the ordinary.

Annihilation
, Jeff VanderMeer. I find this a bit too weird for my tastes. Why the sex-segregated teams? Why the lack of names? Why the bizarre terminology? I wasn't interested enough to worry  my pretty head over any of it.

Still Life With Tornado
, A.S. King. Although learning that the main character was an artist made me drag my feet about investing (I am weary of super sensitive and talented teen artists in YA), the magic realism and truancy pulled me into the story. The dad was a bit of a cardboard villain, but the girl and her alter egos were enough to keep me reading.

A Family Under the Stars, Christy Jeffries. This was a fun modern romance (set it Idaho -- woot!) with a single mom learning to let men into her family and a guy afraid of city women learning not to let his abandonment issues keep him from reaching out. Also she is the most accident prone woman alive and I would not put a toe into the woods in her company.

Hostage, Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown. This book radiates teenaged sincerity and earnestness, which gets a bit tiring for aged me but still provides a good read. I like the magic world and the rebuilding aspects, and the general decency of most characters and the mean-spiritedness and pettiness of a few others. Even the villains are authentic about their villainy. I will download and read the next one in a few weeks.

Flame in the Mist, Renee Ahdieh. I managed to finish this, but I didn't enjoy it enough to want to find the next one. The kids seemed silly and foolish especially when they thought they were dramatic and inspiring or clever. I felt very old.

Magic Binds, Ilona Andrews. I was reminded of Hines's Unbound in that the character thinks of something to do as a next step, and then instantly does it, but in this case it's something that actually works, which to some extent is the author helping out and to some extent is that Kate has a better sense of the bigger picture so she rarely does things with side effects that end up putting her further behind. I liked the way she has to grapple with the moral issues her immense powers gives her, especially as she accepts help from people who would seem to be pushing her the wrong way. I'll look forward to the next one.

Running Out of Time, Margaret Haddix. This is a fun SF book about a kid in the past who thinks she is further in the past. I liked talking to the kids about the two layers of history there -- 1996 and 1840. The cookies were odd though -- I think they were missing an ingredient.

Once a Rebel, Mary Jo Putney. Putney lures her characters from England to Baltimore so she can indulge in a little home town setting. It's a nice peek into American history while also hanging out with Putney's articulate and pleasant characters, who suffer through rapidly improving conditions despite war and assassinations.

Geared for the Grave, Duffy Brown. Not my perfect fit. The entire plot hinged on the local law enforcement being stupid and lazy, so he was, but then the author decided he should also be the romantic interest, which left me nonplussed. Apparently the main character finds it attractive when a cop threatens to send people to prison so he doesn't have to leave the office? It gives him more time to hang around a local bar and steal fries off her plate, which is hot? When the real bad guy finally confesses he does agree to release the harmless old man our Heroine was trying to protect, so yay?

Murder on a Summer's Day, Frances Brody. I enjoyed this one more -- the time period (post World War 1 England) gives its own interest, and the detective is a widowed detective who is comfortable with her assistants. Not as instantly charming as my beloved Daisy Dalrymple, but another interesting perspective. The swathes of deaths among the visiting Indians were a bit disconcerting, but a few survived to the end.

Wonderment in Death, J.D. Robb. This was a fun short story (3 discs) except that the narrator and I had completely different ideas on what everyone should sound like. So by the time I acclimated it was almost over. It leant a bit hard on the woo-woo side of science, although maybe drugs got that much better.

Suffragette Scandal, Courtney Milan. Fun historical romance about a woman fighting for human rights and a man who deeply distrusts society, and then sparks fly. The ending was hilarious, as the man decides to use democracy to protect his wife's newspaper. Milan has a fairly light touch and a steady hand for historical details (and she reviews her accuracy in an afterward, which I appreciate).

Talk Sweetly to Me, Courtney Milan. This is the (final?) novella about the Brother's Sinister, although I'm not sure Stephen is really a brother. But since he played a fairly large role in Suffragette Scandal, it was fun to see where he ended up. I think he picked a harder life than he anticipated, but he will enjoy it a lot. And mathematical women are always pleasant to find.

The Prisoner of Limnos, Lois McMaster Bujold. Penric gets to put on a dress again, which is not making him feel better about his progress in courting a wife. She on the other hand is realizing that clothes do not make the man, but actions do, so a happy ending could be in sight.

I started 16 and finished 17. That's a good direction for my currently-reading list! It seems very high, but remember that that includes a bunch of mini-books.

Picture Books:
The Wolves of CurrumpawPrincess Princess Ever AfterDory Dory Black Sheep

The Wolves of Currumpaw, William Grill. Cybils younger graphic novel finalist. Gosh, this was depressing. It's the story of the long hunt for a pack of clever wolves, by men who become convinced that the wolves are not the villains but find themselves unable to turn back because of pride. The good guys die but at least the bad guys feel bad about it. The pictures are deceptively simple but add to the atmosphere and power of the story, and the giant size of the book itself makes it seem a picture book for the older crowd.

Princess Princess Ever After, Katie O'Neill. Another Cybils graphic novel. A princess is saved from a tower and she turns out to have a personality. The savior also has unexpected depths, as does the loser prince they rescue over his protests. I think it's supposed to be exciting that the two who live happily ever after are both princesses, but I think I am jaded because doesn't seem that surprising so I wanted something more. I did like that they both insisted on taking time to become competent at their careers before the marriage -- that was cool.

Dory Dory, Black Sheep, Abby Hanlon. Cybils young chapter book. Another fun visit with the charming Dory, aka Rascal. We see both her real friends and her imaginary ones, and watch her deal with the worry of not being a good reader and the rather archaic ways her teacher and parents deal with it (I speak as the parent of a late reader). It didn't really seem to have a unified whole, although I appreciated that Dory didn't magically start reading even when she decided to start trying. But her friendships stayed strong as did her commitment to her imagination.


Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Someplace to Be Flying (Newford, #8)Virtues of War (Virtues of War, #1)Giant Pumpkin Suite

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Episode 21. Dav is waking up. So far I feel his an Ailiana's survival is unearned; the authors have to convince me that this is part of the narrative, not just that they can't bear to let their characters face the consequences of their actions. Also, Liadan is still struggling financially.

Someplace to Be Fying, Charles de Lint. We're back to the other time line, but I'm still grumpy about the creepy guy. Humph.

Virtues of War, Bennett Coles. I need to put more time into this so I remember which characters I do like and which ones I'm supposed to like.

Great Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. I'm afraid of physical pain so I'm reading the next bits with my eyes closed.

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

KenilworthA Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenReading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott. I admit I am dragging my feet on this one, since I know it ends badly but I find everyone involved unworthy but wordy about it so it's hard to care but not worth working on. The best part of the book is that it's falling apart so I literally throw out the pages as I finish reading them, which is a kind of guilty thrill.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George. Sadly, I don't like anyone in this book, and I'm pretty sure the author will betray me in the end. Maybe I should bail.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.
2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016!  47/107-ish. Read a bunch of Early Chapter books and elementary Graphic Novels.
  2. Reading My Library: Finished Little Fuzzy and Wonderment in Death for audios. Geared for the Grave and Murder on a Summer's Day finished off stack 2 for Reading My Library.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 33/51. I'm looking doomed.