Monday, November 16, 2015

Writhing In Circles

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
The month is November, AKA NaNoWriMo, so I'm writing a novel. Well, I'm writing 50,000 words about some characters; novel implies more structure and coherence than I seem to be achieving.

This means that I've utterly neglected my blog, since if I pick up this computer to type, I'm supposed to write the novel first. Today however I've finally let the antagonist onto the stage, and I suddenly realized I had no idea what her agenda was or why she was stalking around being a villain. So instead I turn to this blog to report on what I've read so far in November (not much -- see the whole novel thing).

The Book Date is collecting the roundups of what everyone is reading and talking about this week at back at her blog. I'll also look in with Teach Mentor Texts which does the same thing for kidlit.

This week I finished 5 books, almost all of them graphic novels, children's books, or both:
Wandering Son, Vol. 2Station ElevenMercy Thompson: Hopcross JillyThe High Druid's Blade (The...

Wandering Son Vol 2, Shimura Takako. This is a manga about transgender Japanese kids, which is interesting both for the glimpse into how pre-teens manage wanting to cross dress or handle teasing and for the look at the Japanese response to this as well as normal Japanese life. I don't think I'll continue with the series because I'm terrible at reading comics and have problems telling the characters apart even though as my kids point out they look nothing alike.

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel. My book club read this for our Friday meeting, and we were all blindsided by the depressing nature of it, since we are a pretty fluffy reading crowd. It's a good book and fascinating reading, especially as a contrast to most SF books of this nature -- for one thing, there are almost no engineers figuring stuff out and the author is mostly uninterested in the "how" of post-apocalypse survival. One member read it on a business trip and we agreed that this book could be nominated for "Worst Travel Read Ever."

The Princess in Black, Shannon Hale. Great kids book about a pretty princess who sneaks out to battle trolls in violation of all Pretty Princess codes. I'm looking forward to the sequel which may also include so Goat Boy heroics. I wonder if I could get the reluctant reader into this one...

Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly, Patricia Briggs. This Mercy story was written with the intention of becoming a graphic novel, which apparently makes for a better graphic novel, as opposed to just drawing pictures for any old story. Fair enough -- I like that it has a lot about Mercy's step daughter, who is an interesting character. Alexander liked it too, so there's the youthful vote.

The High Druid's Blade, Terry Brooks. I found this audio story annoying in that it rarely allowed the female characters any agency. Even the evil villain thought of girls as means to attack the guy rather than as people. (Hint -- there is a sword hanging forgotten in a family's home. You have the power to mentally control the sister. Do you lure her to your distant house of ill repute so that the brother will hopefully grab the sword and follow, or do you tell her to walk home and bring it to you so you can fly off and disappear forever and probably no one will care? Do one if you are plot stupid, because the second choice would make the book awfully short.)

Last week I finished:

The Blacksmith's Bravery (Ladies' Shooting Club), Susan Page Davis. Another Reading My Library Quest book. Christians in a rough Idaho town struggle with bandits and remaking their lives in accordance with their new religious beliefs.

A Bride's Story Vol 4, Kaoru Mori. The continuing manga about the Asian steppes.

Sideways Stories From Wayside School, Louis Sachar (reread). For my elementary book club, although I also discovered it makes a great read aloud.

The Plague of Doves, Louise Erdrich. Reading this over several months made it a little harder to keep track of the interlocking story lines, but the beauty of the language held it together.

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor, Nathan Hale. A strong addition to this historical series, this book really gave a sense of the immense effort and courage of Harriet Tubman and her continuing journeys to save people from slavery.

Gateway, Sharon Shinn. Good people risking much to do good things, as expected in Shinn's book. I would have found the romance delightful when I was young, although my jaded self found the emotions a bit exhausting.

Almost Amish, Kathryn Cushman. Are more large print books Christian fiction? Do Christians read more as their eyes get tired? I'm not complaining, I'm just wondering. This was a fun exploration of life inside a reality TV show, with the uptight mom getting redeemed instead of demonized.

Dreams Underfoot, Charles de Lint. Strong stories of people who see into the fae world, with a lot of subtext about stories and reality and truth. Reminded me why I like de Lint, so I'll keep reading more of his stuff.

And while I was in the library I browsed a couple of picture books from the holiday shelves:

Zen Ghosts, John Muth. I always feel the whoosh of the koan's wisdom rushing past my head when I read these books. I have no idea what kids think of them.

Monster Needs a Costume, Paul Czajak. I found it a bit predictable, which probably a lot of kids like but my family was more into a twist ending. The monster discovers that you can have it all.

And I started new books:

audio: Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase. This may take longer than I expected, because Alexander is enjoying it tremendously so I may save it for when he's in the car. Although I'm not sure I want to listen to the actual sex scenes with my 17 year old son sitting next to me...

Logan, Linda Lael Miller. True love in MONTANA.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson. I'm reading this to catch up to Sword and Laser. I like it although it's pretty grim. Also, I do not believe Seth is related to Peter Dickinson, which confused me for a while.

The Gods Themselves, Isaac Asimov (reread). I'm supposed to finish this by Tuesday for my movie/book club. It's fun reading this with only dim memories so that I'm not sure what I've figured out and what I remember.

Bookmarks Moved in a few other books:

Mischief and Mistletoe. Christmas themed Regency romance stories from some of my best known authors. I'm reading it a lot lately because it is utterly unlike my novel and so doesn't mess with my head.

Vengeance of the Demon, Diane Rowland. I read this while sorting my mail, because I needed an incentive as the letters were piling up.

The next few books I'm not really reading, just dipping into between the books I'm trying to finish so that I can pretend that I'm going to read the books on my bookcases.

If I'm Jewish and You're Christian, What Are the Kids?: A Parenting Guide for Interfaith FamiliesRob Roy  Waiting for the PartyA Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)Reading and Learning to Read

If I'm Jewish and You're Christian, What Are the Kids?, Andrea King. The latest chapters discuss what happens to observance if you only do religion for the kids, so you have an excuse to give them presents or something.
Rob Roy, Walter Scott. It is possible that our main character may have now met up with a Scot rebel, so that the interesting part of the plot can begin. The book is halfway over. Thank goodness I met this author through Ivanhoe and not this thing.
Waiting For the Party, Ann Thwaite. I had no idea that Francis Burnett was also famous for her adult fiction, back in her day. That she did not have a great marriage is not as surprising.
A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George. My favorite subplot is the musician who can't play and who is inexplicably writing a diary (there's an explanation, but it seems wildly improbable).
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca. I like books about how reading works.

2015 Challenge Progress:
  1. Reading My Library: Finished two. Moving along with the C's in audio books.
  2. Where Am I Reading?: 37/51.  Finished the North Dakota, but repeated Tennessee, Idaho and Michigan. Got a Hawaii and Indiana on my shelves.
  3. Award Winning Book Challenge: I have apparently stopped reviewing books. But I've ticked off many awards. 
  4. Book Riot Read Harder: 23/24. I still need an African author.
  5. Alphabetically Inclined:  I V X  Z still missing. 22/26. Since I only count books I own, this is hard.
  6. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  I am stalled. Maybe time to go back?
  7. Cybils 2014: Complete! I bought the last one as the libraries didn't seem to have it. WOOT!


Lindsey said...

The Princess in Black was a favorite for my kids and it's one I love to give as a gift to boys and girls.

I think NaNoWriMo is a pretty good reason to fall behind on blogging. Keep on rocking the writing!!

Kathryn T said...

LOL re the listening to the Loretta Chase book with your son - good luck with the sex scenes. The graphic novel from the Patricia Briggs series sounds interesting, although I have only read one in the series and want to catch up on it at some point.

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

Very interesting - I read Station Eleven while I was traveling as well, and for some reason, I really didn't take much to it. Great assortment of books yet again.

Anonymous said...

Well done on NaNaWriMo so far, that's great!

kmitcham said...

I've got the latest novel of the Change from Stirling from the library, if you are interested